I WAS WRONG: Lessons Learned in Wake of Houlton-MA Incident

Unless you’ve been living in a cave or lost power for several days, you most likely are aware of the ugly incidents which occurred in last Friday night’s high school boys basketball game between Mattanawcook Academy and Houlton in Lincoln.  I don’t believe we need to rehash the sordid details again.

Since then the school administration has conducted an investigation and meted out disciplinary action.  Two players have been suspended indefinitely from the squad while the Lynx head coach, Ryan Libby, subsequently resigned.

In reflecting upon last week’s incident, I penned my most recent column.  In doing so I made a most erroneous statement.  In the piece I said there were not any life lessons taught in Lincoln on Friday night.  It was a statement I made in haste.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  I had failed to remember it is not usually in our successes but in our shortcomings and failures when we often learn the most.  These life lessons are not just for the players or those in leadership but for all of us who have an interest in sport.

It should be noted in the wake of Friday night’s game, many from the Lincoln community reached out to coaches, players, and fans from Houlton.  Most were appalled and embarrassed in what transpired at their school, in their town.  Please note:  part of the headline in Sunday’s column stated “black mark in Lincoln” not on Lincoln.  While this particular incident did happen in Lincoln, it could have happened anywhere.  It should in no way be construed by anyone as a reflection of the school or town as a whole.

We are reminded of this by the graciousness of Houlton High School principal, Marty Bouchard.  His son, Kyle, is a star basketball player on the team.  Through his leadership we have learned grace, which will help both communities move forward.

For those of us in leadership, we are reminded that we are held responsible for those we are to be guiding.  Justly or unjustly when things go terribly wrong, it is those at the top that will take the fall.

For the players who are serving their suspensions, the lesson learned is how one’s actions can reflect upon an entire school and community.  The same can be said for those fans who cheered on the perpetrators.

For the majority of the players that were completely innocent, this is an opportunity to unite in solidarity.  It’s a chance to vow to each other that what happened the other night will never happen again.  They have the chance to once again bring pride to this tight-knit community.

Finally, what lessons have I learned in this ordeal?  First, it was really driven home that despite the claims of people wanting more positive, uplifting stories, the fact remains the majority are attracted to controversy and drama.  To put things in perspective:  I have been writing in this space for over a year.  Last Sunday’s column has accounted for over one-third of my total hits.  I’ll admit, I got caught up in the drama of this subject to my shame.

In reflecting over the past few days, I feel I have cheated my regular readers who have come to enjoy the positive pieces I have written over the past year.  This is what I want The Press Box to be about and I vow it will be going forward.  I asked myself:  Is Sunday’s piece what I want people to remember me for?  The answer I came back with was a resounding no.  Do I think I was wrong in writing the column?  Not necessarily.  Do I regret writing it?  Yes, yes I do.

I’ll begin to wrap up with a question I asked in Sunday’s column:  Where do the Lynx go from here?  The school has done their investigation.  Without knowing all the details, I have faith the powers that be have done due diligence in their findings.

One of life’s lessons to be learned is that an incident like this does not have to seal one’s fate.  I believe Coach Libby is a good man and am sure he cares about his players.  Hopefully he will have the opportunity to coach basketball again in some capacity if he so desires.

For the players who have been suspended, here’s hoping they will grow from this experience and become true leaders.  Upon return, maybe not this year but next if they are underclassmen, they have the chance to use this as a teaching opportunity for others.

It is my hope that everyone will rise up and turn this negative into a positive.  It is time, regardless of what opinions you may have, to support those in both the Lincoln and Houlton communities.  The actions of last Friday night do not have to tarnish this community any longer.  Those players who remain can learn for this experience and become a beacon of light for the town of Lincoln.  I wish the good folks of Lincoln and the surrounding communities nothing but the best as they move forward.




Bob Beatham

About Bob Beatham

Bob, a lifelong Bangor resident, has just completed his 21st season as the Public Address Announcer at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor. Bob is also the public address voice for John Bapst Crusader football. He also currently serves as the scorekeeper for John Bapst basketball. Bob is an avid follower of Maine high school athletics, particularly football and basketball. The University of Maine at Farmington graduate is the service coordinator at Aging Excellence, which provides in-home care for seniors..