‘One of Those People’

The Impact of Aaron Marston

By Ricky Goupille

     It’s difficult to put into words the effect Aaron Marston had on everyone he encountered. But if words don’t suffice, perhaps an enormous crowd of blue and gold can help.

The UMPI crowd at the October 29th playoff game at Husson University. Photo by Edie Shea

     On Oct. 29, 2022, the University of Maine at Presque Isle Women’s Soccer team competed in a playoff game against in-state rival Husson University. But the events of that day and that week preceding the game extend far beyond the game of soccer. The UMPI women’s team took the field that day for the first time without their beloved coach, Aaron Marston.

     Aaron tragically and very suddenly passed away 10 days prior to this game. “It was about as difficult a situation as anybody can imagine,” UMPI President Raymond Rice said. In the hours following the tragedy, the UMPI community showed an enormous amount of support for everyone affected by it. “Our student athletes were there for one another, and it shows the great culture we’ve built. You can’t help but be proud of the group we have here,” Athletic Director Dan Kane said.

    Coach Marston took over the program in 2019. He had built the team from the ground up. His first recruiting class, now seniors, took the field that day with their hearts broken. “We knew it was going to be the hardest thing any of us have ever done,” senior Captain Monica McLaughlin said.

     But behind the women who were playing in their coach’s honor was an overwhelming crowd who made the two-and-a-half-hour’s drive to Bangor to support the team. “I would guess there was probably 500 people there, and we had probably two thirds of them,” Dan Kane said.

     On Husson’s home field, UMPI had the crowd.

     Throughout the game, the UMPI players battled through all the emotions. “The whole team’s hearts were aching for Aaron. We felt like we were missing something throughout the entire game,” Monica McLaughlin said. The Owls fought with the best team in the conference, trailing by one goal at the halfway point. “When we ran across the field during halftime to warm up for the second half and we heard everyone cheering for us, it brought tears to every single one of our eyes,” McLaughlin said.

    UMPI continued to compete but trailed 2-0 late in the game. With their season nearing its end, senior defender Kassandra Nelson hit a great free kick. Freshman Camryn Ala was able to get a touch on it and score for UMPI to bring them within one goal. In that moment, the crowd went into a frenzy. “When they scored with a couple minutes to go, the place just erupted,” Dan Kane said. “We were all just overwhelmed by the cheers coming from our fans. After we scored, I think every single one of us was crying,” McLaughlin said.

The Owls celebrate after Camryn Ala scores in the 87th minute to pull UMPI within 1.

     From sorrow in the days and weeks after Aaron Marston’s passing, to complete joy following Ala’s goal. Although UMPI didn’t end up winning the game, the joy in the moments after they scored shows the outpouring of support during a time of tragedy.

     The community’s support, however, is a direct product of the man Aaron Marston was.

The Road to Alaska

    University Day recently made its return for the first time since 2019. Abi Davis, a senior in the Professional Communication and Journalism major, gave a presentation on her senior practicum. Her project on the outside seemed simple. But her presentation proved that it was anything but.

Abi Davis speaks on the difficulties of finding accessible hotel rooms during her presentation, The Road to Alaska.

     Abi’s professor, Dr. Jacqui Lowman, is a wheelchair user with two service dogs. In fact, she is the only employee in the University of Maine System who falls into that category. Dr. J., as her students call her, has proven many times that labels are meaningless for her. She has gone skiing, climbed Mt. Katahdin and hiked parts of the Appalachian Trail.

     In the fall of 2022, Dr. J. will add to her resume. She will make the long voyage driving from her home in Crouseville, Maine, to Alaska– and back, of course. Abi’s practicum was to hash out the logistics for her. “Dr. J. mentioned that this was a trip they were going to be taking and I said, ‘I think that’s right up my alley,’” Abi said. 

     With this task came a lot of intricate details. Every hotel and gas station had to be planned out and researched for accessibility. Information on this is extremely hard to find. “I ended up calling two big oil companies and really nagging them for information on accessibility,” Abi said in her presentation. 

     Abi’s role in Dr. J.’s trip gives them much more peace of mind. The Lowmans now know that where they are going will work for them. “Having another person with that level of expertise…. It was a great project for her and was extremely helpful,” Dr. Lowman said.     

     Abi saw the bigger picture in this project of helping Dr. J. She has also found a joy in helping others. “This class and the PCJ program as a whole have inspired my passion in advocacy and helping marginalized groups find their voices.”

     “The Road to Alaska” brought up a lot of things most of us would not think about. Driving from Maine to Alaska is daunting enough. But adding two service dogs and a wheelchair to the mix makes it even more so. But despite the many challenges, Abi couldn’t have found the project more rewarding. “Overall, my favorite part of this class was the opportunity of having the one-on-one time with Dr. J.” 

The Impact of Tragedy

How Capturing a Tragic Moment in Time Becomes Timeless

     The Pulitzer Prize awards a wide number of journalism categories. Perhaps the most famous  would be those for photography. Images resonate more than words. Tragic images even more so. People remember where they were at these moments. Photography bears witness to those moments, including the tragic incidents in each of the following decades.

     1940s: Perhaps no athlete in history has been as polarizing to American culture as Babe Ruth. More than Brady, Gretzky or Jordan. Babe Ruth defined the sport of baseball. He began as a member of the Boston Red Sox. But we mostly remember him as a New York Yankee. 

     Nate Fein captured this Pulitzer-winning photo. It shows the moment when Babe Ruth returned to Yankee Stadium for the final time. The stadium would go on to be known as “The House That Ruth Built.”  He had been retired for 13 seasons. Now his health was failing. The Yankees decided to honor him one more time by retiring his number. This gave the fans one last look at the Sultan of Swat. This is one of the more tragic and heart wrenching photos in the history of sports. Ruth would die just two months later. 

Lending CDK a Paw

    UMPI English majors Bethany Tabb, Megan Waceken and Bailey Corley gave a University Day presentation on an organization most of us have not heard of. That is “Canines for Disabled Kids,” a nonprofit organization that helps place Service Animals with children and their families who could benefit from them.

Bethany Tabb, Megan Waceken, and Bailey Corley give their presentation on CDK and advocacy.

     Corley, Waceken and Tabb were all part of an Advocacy class. “At the beginning of the semester, pretty much none of us knew what advocacy was,” Bethany Tabb said. In working on their semester-long projects with CDK, however, they all would leave us with a better understanding of what advocacy really means. 

     The project involved talking with a number of CDK clients, partners and board members. The board members work Pro-bono. They put their time and energy into CDK’s cause for advocacy. “Meeting new people was my favorite part of all the process,” Bailey Corley said.

     One example the presenters gave of CDK’s impact was the story about Jacob and Murphy. Jacob has autism and was diagnosed at the age of three. He was nonverbal before getting Murphy. After CDK helped Jacob get Murphy, Jacob could speak in full sentences. For Jacob, Murphy brought out the best in him. 

     UMPI’s professor of communication and journalism, Dr. Jacqui Lowman, taught the advocacy class. Dr. Lowman is a wheelchair user who has two service dogs. Her students adore Saint and Dusty. 

     “I feel like we really learned so much just by having Dr. J. as our teacher. Because you don’t know a lot about something unless you’re experiencing it firsthand,” Megan Waceken said. 

     Overall, CDK is a humble organization whose mission is simple: help those in need. In talking to the members of CDK, these three presenters grasped a great understanding of what advocacy and helping others really means. That is, doing so out of the goodness of your heart, and not expecting anything in return.

A Dangerous Truth

The Investigative Journalism That Nearly Cost Us

the First Amendment

     “All the President’s Men” is a film released in 1976. It detailed two Washington Post journalists’ quest to dig to the bottom of the infamous Watergate scandal. The journalists, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, quickly discovered a huge cover-up. No one they reached out to would reveal any information. At first it seemed that Bernstein and Woodward were on a wild goose chase to find a dangerous truth. They knew it existed, but had no idea what the consequences of finding it could bring. 

     Because of their persistence they were finally able to publish an initial story. The story implicated very important men close to the president of engaging in highly criminal behavior. Because of this, the two reporters found themselves in hot water. The executive editor, Ben Bradlee, put things in perspective. “Not that there’s a lot riding on this. Only the First Amendment and Freedom of the Press and maybe the future of our democracy.” 

     Bradlee’s line highlights the reality of the situation. The cover-up spanned just about every governmental department. Had the cover-up succeeded in suppressing publication, it would have set a dangerous precedent. It would have given the government the power to censor the press if a story could potentially make those in power look bad. 

     Bradlee, Bernstein and Woodward put their lives at stake and dared to go out and get the story anyway. Had they not, Watergate likely would not have become a national scandal. But most important, Freedom of the Press would have an exception to that rule. 

     “All The President’s Men” has a unique story arc. The entire film is the quest for any information at all. Woodward and Bernstein knew there was a cover-up. But they struggled to write a credible story. When they finally did obtain necessary information, it only got worse. Beyond Bernstein, Woodward and Bradlee, the heroes of the film are the Press and their sacrifices. 

Trailer Promo: 

Two journalists for the Washington Post brave the possible ramifications for their mission of finding a dangerous truth against the President of the United States.

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 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. 

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. 

High School Basketball Official Shortages a Real Problem

There are many reasons, but the biggest of which

nobody wants to talk about…

     In Aroostook County, high school basketball is a rich tradition. With the exception of last year’s COVID season, people pack our tiny gyms to support the student athletes’ passion for the game. The one primary element that allows the games to go on are the unsung “third team” that everyone loves to hate: the referees. They are the law, the over-bearing authority, but their job is to remain invisible. One major problem facing the future of high school basketball here in the county is the shortage of officials. 

     Julie Goupille began officiating in 1997. When she began, there were 75 active officials on Aroostook County’s Board 150. Now there are 28. “One reason I think is it is a time commitment. People have to give up their evenings. And there is a lot of travel involved,” Goupille said. “When I first started, you never worked multiple games in a day. But because of dwindling numbers, it will happen every weekend this season.” This further explains the challenges that assignors run into.

Julie Goupille at a 2019 Class D Girls Regional Final. (Photo By Tim Goupille).

     Like anything else, there isn’t just one reason. But there is one that just about every official can attest to. “In my opinion, the primary reason is the abuse that officials take,” Goupille said. Everyone is guilty about complaining about calls or blaming the refs for why their team has a lost a game. After all, they are the easy targets. You don’t have to take any responsibility when laying the blame at the door of the officials. If your team lost by one point, it wasn’t the five layups they missed or the 10 free throws that didn’t fall. It was the player-control call with five seconds left in the fourth quarter. “You are fair game when you’re out on the floor,” Goupille said.

     Young Board 150 official Will Bridges started officiating just one year removed from high school. “I wanted to stay in the world of sports when I was going into college and also stay with basketball throughout my life,” Bridges said. But he really started because of the need for people willing to step up. “I knew Maine, but specifically Aroostook County, needed officials to help with games around the county.” With just two years of experience, Will has put up with more than his fair share of grief when out on the floor. “I have received more abuse than what I thought I was going to get when I first started. I received it from mostly coaches and fans.” 

The Thanksgiving Day Football Game

How a backyard football game became an

unbreakable tradition

     Football on Thanksgiving is not a novel idea. The NFL has held games on Thanksgiving since 1934. Seeing the Cowboys and Lions play on Thanksgiving is just another thing that makes the holiday. Like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, football is engrained into the day itself. For two brothers from rural West Buxton, Maine, football on Thanksgiving is a little bit more than that. Luke Boyd (19) and Jake Boyd (17) have been playing against each other in a game of touch football since 2014. Every year, the same two teams play against each other. Luke is the captain of the Patriots; Jake, the leader of the Broncos. Why those two teams? The answer is simple: those were the only two jerseys the brothers owned. In 2014 for the first game, Luke donned a Tom Brady jersey, while Jake threw on a Tim Tebow Broncos jersey. Seven years later and those team names have stuck. 

Luke makes a fingertip catch over his little brother in the second quarter of the 2015 game (Photo by: Emily Boyd)

     Luke and Jake have always held Thanksgiving with cousins from far away. This provided a perfect opportunity to have some fun with family they rarely got to see. For the first game in 2014, the weather did not cooperate. It was 19 degrees at kickoff, with 20 mile per hour gusts. They shoveled and snow blew the field the morning of the game. At the time, Luke was only 12, and Jake just 10. Never would they dream that they’d be preparing to play again in 2021 with the same giddy feeling they had as young kids.

Jake (left) makes an amazing catch in the 2020 game, as Luke (right) prepares to tackle his brother. (Photo by: Emily Boyd)

     “It only happens once a year. No matter how old you get, you can get excited for things,” Luke said. “The anticipation of the game is always exciting.” For one day a year, they can feel like professional athletes, playing in front of their large family and extended friends. Their siblings and cousins help video record and edit to post the full game on YouTube each year. They also spray paint the field to look just like an NFL field. PVC-pipe goal posts and official end-zone pylons are just a few of the staples that the players see every year. 

     The brothers and their relatives held the first two games in Presque Isle. After the game was canceled in 2016, it was moved down to southern Maine, and they painted a much bigger field in Buxton for the 2017 contest. Teams expanded from just a 2 on 2 game in 2015, to 5 on 5 in 2017. Jake Boyd’s Broncos won the first two contests in 2014 and 2015 by scores of 41-13 and 18-9. But since that move to West Buxton, Luke’s Patriots have won ever since. Most recently in 2020, the Patriots won by a very close score of 51-44. Although it may seem lighthearted in nature on the surface, the heart and desire that comes with competition always comes out in the players. Heartbreaking losses can also stick with the players as they have to wait a whole year before they get a chance to redeem themselves.