Senior Spotlight: Miranda Cashmere Washinawatok

How one person leaves behind a legacy.

     This year, as part of the class of 2022, Miranda Cashmere Washinawatok will be graduating from UMPI and moving on to the next chapter of her life. Miranda is receiving a degree in Environmental Science and a certificate in GIS Technology.

Miranda Cashmere Washinawatok with her mom.

     While at UMPI, volleyball was a large part of Miranda’s career. As a freshman and sophomore, she was chosen to be captain of the volleyball team. As a junior and senior, the offers were still available to her. Miranda, however, declined so that she could focus on school for her last two years. 

     “I definitely think in my last two year here, I’ve transitioned into teaching the younger players and teammates how to see the game from my perspective,” Miranda said. “I’m still looked up to as a leader, just in a different sense.” 

     Miranda is incredibly passionate about the sport of volleyball. She uses that to help teach and encourage her younger teammates. She said, “Volleyball is a big deal in my life. I’ve tried to implement my teaching and my IQ through stories and talking with my teammates. I try to share my help as if I was in their shoes.” Miranda also mentioned that she encourages her teammates to step out of their comfort zone and try things that are not as normal as usual

     Over time, Miranda has also learned a lot from the game that she has been teaching for so long. “You must learn how to play with new players and with new coaches. It’s a lot of learning throughout the four years,” Miranda said. 

For the Love of the Game

What the UMPI Baseball and Softball Teams Do to Play

the Game They Love

     “Are we there yet?” junior infielder Joey Blake asked jokingly as the 30-passenger bus rolled out of campus at 4 in the morning and began to head south on Route 1. The UMPI baseball team had about 30 hours of driving ahead of them. Both the baseball and the softball teams were heading to Florida for their spring trip. The baseball team would play nine games in five days in Davenport. The softball team, 10 games in five days in Fort Myers.

The baseball team gets ready to break the huddle before a March 15th game versus SUNY Brockport. Photo courtesy of Tim Goupille.

     Baseball decided to drive, and Softball decided to fly. Both means of travel have their benefits and drawbacks. Some of the negative effects for the baseball team when traveling down were the early mornings. The first two days of travel, the bus was rolling at 4:05 a.m. and 3:41 a.m., respectively. On day one, sophomore infielder Kyle Nichols almost missed the bus. “I tried to stay up all night and I fell asleep and almost missed my trip,” Nichols said. 

     If it weren’t for residence assistant Campton Tinkham, also a sophomore on the team, Nichols may have missed the bus. “Shoutout to Tink for waking me up and grabbing me. Also thanks, Coach, for waiting for a few minutes,” Nichols said. 

     The long journey, mostly down Interstate 95, was broken up into 12 hours on each of the first two days. After a quick stop for batting practice in Brunswick, Georgia, the team finished the last five hours of the journey on the third day of the trip. Despite the long, boring days, team morale never wavered. “I think guys really enjoyed themselves on the bus. There was a lot of laughter and jokes happening. At one point, most of us were watching March Madness on different screens all at the same time,” Nichols said. 

    The headaches of traveling from Maine to Florida you might think you could cure by flying instead. 

     The softball team would have to tell you otherwise. 

UMPI Baseball Progressing

     The UMPI baseball team has started playing games.  Not only have they started playing, they’ve seen slow but steady progress. They have started out the season 2-13. By no means is that record outstanding.  But it does top coach’s win total since his first season where he won four games. 

     Coach Roger Stinson said, “It’s a good feeling to see this team heading in the right direction. I have worked hard to bring in the guys we have, and knowing this is the first full team of guys that I have recruited and to see how the team is bonding is positive. We are all for each other! It’s a true honor to coach this group.”

Coach Stinson hitting groundballs.

     When the team got their second win in Florida team captain Timmy Burns gave the game ball to Stinson and said this is for you. Now Coach Stinson has the ball on his bookshelf in his office, sitting on top of the RussMatt wooden mug he bought. It fits perfectly and he hopes to replace it with another one when the team gets their 5th win this season.  That will be more than any season he has had up here. He hopes to have all the guys sign that one and many more to come. 

     The good news for the team is that they are playing the toughest competition they’re going to face right now.  It’s only going to get easier when it comes to strength in schedule. The team is already hanging in there with some decent teams, such as Brockport and Fisher colleges. So Stinson and his players feel very optimistic about conference play this season. Jordan Young, a junior from North Carolina on the team, said, “I believe we can definitely make some noise within the North Atlantic Conference (NAC). We have already competed with teams in non-conference play and I think it’ll only get better as the season progresses.” 

     The team still has plenty of games left this season to make some more noise in the NAC and surprise some people. Coach Stinson said, “I certainly do feel the team will keep winning. The hardest part will be some guys will have to accept new roles moving through the season.  But from what I have seen so far is that the guys are more than willing.  They will be there for their teammates as we move forward.  And I believe we will shock many people in the NAC and on campus.” 

UMPI Athletics Getting Major Upgrade

The NCAA Is Getting Its Northernmost Division I School 

     The University of Maine at Presque Isle has an enrollment of around 1,100 students. It has just three resident dorms and 12 building structures. The small-town feel of UMPI is why many students choose to attend. Naturally, UMPI currently competes at an NCAA Division III level. They are part of the North Atlantic Conference. But starting in the 2023-24 athletic season, that will all change.

UMPI Men’s basketball team competes against NVU-Lyndon in front of a packed crown on Senior Day 2022.

      UMPI athletic administrator and men’s basketball coach, Daniel Kane, recently made a huge announcement. UMPI will become a Division I school. “We are all beyond excited. It will be huge for the university to get this exposure,” Kane said. UMPI will compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference for all athletics. 

     Their conference opponents will be many universities known for their athletic success. Duke University, North Carolina Chapel Hill, the University of Virginia are a few. “As the men’s basketball coach, I personally can’t wait. We get to go to Duke and UNC and compete against those powerhouses,” Kane said. 

      Also worth noting is the revenue that UMPI will bring in for traveling to those huge schools. One trip to Notre Dame will bring in nearly a quarter of a million dollars for the university. “Obviously the money will be a huge benefit. We hope we can use it to improve not just athletics but for every aspect of UMPI,” Kane said. 

UMPI Baseball Players Heading to the Big Stage

     This year, Major League Baseball has gone into what is called a “lockout.” This means that Major League Baseball and the Player’s Association, a group that protects the player’s rights, could not come to an agreement on terms for the 2022 season. The MLB has canceled the season until terms are agreed upon. This means that players can’t play, can’t get paid and can’t have much contact with their teams.

     Because of this, the MLB is looking for replacement players who can come in to fill the positions of the professional players for little to no money at all. Three of UMPI’s baseball players–Timmy Burns, Logan McDougall and Spencer Harmon–were chosen as replacement players! 

     “This is a really exciting opportunity for us,” captain Timmy Burns said. “Not only is this great for the three of us who were chosen. It also brings lots of publicity and recognition to UMPI’s baseball program.” 

     The players will meet in Florida for a late spring training since the season is delayed. Spencer Harmon couldn’t believe that he was chosen in the process. He said, “I honestly entered the whole thing as a joke. I never thought I would have been picked to go play in the MLB!” 

     Spencer has only been at UMPI since this past fall. So for him, this means picking up and leaving for the second time in a year. “I think it’s another change I will be able to adjust to. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us, so I have to take it.” 

     Along with Spencer, Logan McDougall joined the team this semester. This means he will be leaving after only being here for a matter of months. “I’m still shocked, honestly,” McDougall said. “It’s another big change that I have to make. But since I have a couple of guys whom I know with me, I think I’ll be OK.” 

     Head Coach Roger Stinson was more than proud of his players for being chosen. “These guys have worked extremely hard. I never thought this was a possibility. But I wish them nothing but the best.” 

     As these players get ready to go train for the big leagues, wish them luck and get ready to follow some of UMPI baseball on TV!

Hockey Is Much More Than ‘Just a Sport’

     The Juan Murphy’s Bulldogs, a local hockey team, is more than just a group of players: it’s a community. “Hockey is a family to me. The team, even other teams and players I’ve met over the years. It’s a huge group of so many new people who I would’ve never known. And a bunch that are now friends,” Steven Rokitowski said.

The Juan Murphy’s Bulldogs celebrate after winning the championship in 2021.

      Nick Medwid also enjoys the camaraderie that comes with being on a team. “Brotherhood aspect of the game. Playing with a team, going into battle with each other and for each other,” he said.

      Steve Hertzog has been playing adult league hockey for about 20 years and played for many teams. He has played this long because of the community. Their team name shows that sense of community. “I like our name. For some reason I am glad I am on a team named after a neighborhood bar,” Hertzog said. James Fitzmaurice agrees. He believes that the sponsor is extremely important for local teams. “The bar that we’re named for is an awesome place that is owned and operated by really good people,” Fitzmaurice said. The bar is a local spot where the entire team is always welcome. Not only is there good food, there’s good company. 

     Mike Mills plays for fun. But he also plays to relieve stress. “Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and negative energy. Hockey allows that while having fun and being able to get out a little frustration and turning your brain off. While on the ice, you can’t think about anything else but what’s happening on the ice.” Even though it is a good way to relieve that energy, winning a couple of championships definitely makes it better. Mills has won five times. Even though that isn’t why they play, it’s nice to feel rewarded for their hard work. 

     Frank Collura, who has a lifetime of experience playing hockey, feels the game is an escape. “I feel the sport melts stress away. For the one hour I’m out there with the team. It’s like life itself is on hold. I feel more alive, especially now in this world of COVID.” He doesn’t just play for that, though. It’s his love of the game. “I know hockey is mostly considered a winter sport. But in beer/men’s league, it’s an all-year event. I want to make it to every game/open ice and/or practice I can skate on. It’s a passion for the smell of the ice, the feel of a freshly Zambonied ice surface and the sound of a ripping slap shot that drive my passion week after week,” Collura said.

     Tyler Katz has been playing hockey for about 17 years now. His most memorable years were on his high school team, the Big Dogs. Playing has always been a helpful break for him. He refers to it as “an intensive source of therapy.” Katz faces struggles in his life outside the game but, “ Hockey is such a release for me that I wish I could play it every day and I can’t stop thinking about it.”

Spring Is Upon Us!

     Spring 2022 is upon us. With it is a new UMPI baseball season with a bunch of familiar faces and some new ones, as well. The team went 1-17 in the coronavirus infected season of 2021. The team won the final game of the season against Farmington 7-3. In fall 2021, UMPI beat Central Maine Community College twice. UMPI in that sense is on a three game winning streak. It is looking to carry that over to the spring.

     The 2022 team roster has added 11 new faces. The rest are returners from last season or a couple of seasons ago. Among those 11 new faces are Jake Neddeau and Ricky Goupille. Jake is a freshman from Connecticut. Ricky is a sophomore from Presque Isle, Maine, but in his first year as an UMPI Owls baseball player. 

     Ricky is more excited than he’s ever been to start a baseball season since this will be his first experience playing at the college level. Ricky said, “I’m ecstatic because I really feel like this team can do some damage. I haven’t been here the last couple of years. But the team chemistry seems to be there, and I think that is the recipe for winning.” 

     Jake hopes to better himself and as a result better the team. He wants to focus on getting better at hitting. According to Jake, “With the tools we have, I think I will be able to become much better at the plate. But overall, I just hope to become a better ball player.” For Jake, playing at the college level has always been a dream. Making it to UMPI shows him that all of his hard work and dedication has paid off. He is also pumped to get going.  Jake said, “I have never been on a team that has as much camaraderie and team spirit before.  I can’t wait to get on the road with the team and have some fun. I’m excited to get the season started!”

     Both Jake and Ricky think that the team is ready for the season and that they are ready to compete. According to Ricky, “I think we are shaping up very well. We had a hard few weeks of conditioning and just getting back into baseball shape. Our trainer, Brian Morrison, has done a phenomenal job with that and keeping us motivated to work on the non-baseball-specific stuff. I really think we are ready to get rolling and start competing. That’s what it’s all about is competition.  This team is itching to do that when we start games in the coming weeks.” 

     The baseball season begins March 5 against Colby. The Owls have a doubleheader that afternoon. Let’s keep the wins coming this spring, UMPI Baseball!

 

Volleyball Setting Up for Success

     UMPI’s Volleyball team has just begun to enter their off-season this semester. This means time to begin preparing for the 2022 fall season! Some of that preparation begins with looking back on this past season to see where there was success. They also look at where work needs to be done and what challenges they faced. For sophomore Alondra Lopez, that meant overcoming a sprained ankle for the third time. Even with that, Lopez said she had a lot of fun. “I loved being able to still be there and still support my team. Even when we’re injured, we might feel like we can’t do much, but I got to hype up my girls.”  For Lopez, being a supportive teammate from the sideline is just as important as being on the court making plays, which is an underrated quality of a great teammate.

     For the off-season, the team gets together to scrimmage in Gentile and work on specific drills. They also work on keeping their team chemistry strong. Sophomore Bailey LaPlante mentioned that she loves the scrimmages. “I feel like we all put in 100 percent,” she said. “We all work super hard…. Working with each other to fix what we can.” They also have been focused on working as a unit together and have been seeing the growth that they all have been making together. Senior Miranda Cashmere said, “It was so awesome to see girls just step up as players, confidently…. I’m super proud to see that.” 

     The team is really excited for the upcoming season next fall. “I feel really confident,” LaPlante said. “With the group of girls we have now and how hard we’re all working, we can have a good season next year.” Lopez’ thoughts on the upcoming season were, “It’s been going awesome. Everyone is reaching more and more and trying to push themselves more. It’s great to see. I feel like everyone improves every time we step on the court.” 

     The volleyball team is coming off a 4-17 season this year. They are looking to improve on working as a unit and their own individual skill sets to be ready for the upcoming fall. As the team prepares for the upcoming season, be on the lookout next fall as the UMPI volleyball team looks to be better than ever before. And if you see them preparing along the way, wish them good luck!

 

From Wildcat and Warrior to Owls

Rookie UMPI Athletes Continue Playing Basketball in the County

After High School

    Playing high school basketball in Aroostook County is a way of life. But rarely do county athletes go on to play in college for UMPI. Two rookie basketball players from local high schools just wrapped up a memorable season. First-year Hattie Bubar of the women’s team and sophomore Jace Rocheleau of the men’s team both went to high school in the County. Hattie went to Presque Isle High School. Jace attended Fort Kent Community School. Both players had great experiences playing basketball for their respective high schools.

Hattie Bubar fires up a three in a game her senior year at PIHS. Photo by: Dave Allen

      Hattie played three varsity seasons for Coach Jeff Hudson. She made two appearances at the Cross Insurance Center for the state tournament. Hattie also was a starter her senior year. Her team finished as Aroostook County Runners-up in a COVID shortened season. 

     Jace made two appearances at the Cross Center. He became a 1000-point scorer during his senior season. “My favorite memory in high school was when I reached 1000. I needed four points going into the game against Southern Aroostook and ended up playing the best game of my life with 45 points,” Jace said. 

    Jace and Hattie were determined not to make their high school careers their peak. Both have gone on to play basketball at the NCAA level at UMPI. 

     “I wanted to challenge myself and see how big the difference was from high school to college. Basketball is like home to me, and I wasn’t ready to give it up,” Jace said. “I have always loved playing basketball. And when I was given the opportunity to play, I knew I could not pass on that opportunity,” Hattie said. 

NAC Conference Meeting Overview: Spring Athletics

   Usually the North Atlantic Conference meets every year so that the athletic directors from all the schools can come together and create their schedules for the season ahead.

     This season is unique. As everyone already knows, COVID took the world by storm last year and all spring sports were canceled. The advantage we have this year is that we know that COVID is still a pretty big deal. Thus, we can plan for it.