In preparation for basketball season, Forest Hills boys coach Anthony Amero put new windshield wipers on his car this weekend.

It’s not as exciting as opening a bottle of champagne or buying a new suit, but that’s the point. Monday was the first day most Maine winter sports teams could practice, and Amero knows that from now until at least February, his free time will be extremely limited.

“You don’t want to be distracted when the season starts, like, ‘Oh, I forgot to change the filter on my furnace,'” Amero said. “Just all those 15-minute projects around the house that you don’t have time for. If you don’t get it done, it’s not getting done until hopefully March — you don’t want to be catching up with your list on February vacation. That means things didn’t go well.”

Amero and his wife, Ami, were dating when he was an assistant coach at Messalonskee. He later moved on to Forest Hills, where he’s been for 18 years.

“I am so fortunate to be married to who I am, because she understands it,” Amero said. “I won’t let the dog out for the next three months. If we have a bad practice, and I want to go home and talk about it, she’s the first person who’s going to give me input. I always told her she should coach. She’s way smarter than I am to begin with.”

At Winslow, girls basketball coach Lindsey Welch was also ready for the season to begin.

“I didn’t sleep last night,” Welch said after Monday’s practice. “It was like Christmas Eve to me. I try to explain it — I’m a big candy fanatic, so it was like Nov. 1, the day after Halloween, when all the candy’s half off. It was like that day for me — just really exciting. Today in school, I had all I could do to just make it through the day so I could get here for practice.”

The Black Raiders had 12 players in their program last season, and had 16 at practice on Monday. Welch said that will be enough for Winslow to field a junior varsity team again.

“We’re making it work,” Welch said. “We’ll have, definitely, a JV team. It will be tough where we’ll have to practice together a lot of the days, but kind of overlap as well, so we can both have our alone time, but also team time together.”

Winslow finished 14-5 last season. The Raiders were the No. 4 seed in Eastern B, but lost to 13th-seeded Waterville in the preliminary round.

“Coming into this season I feel like all of us as a team, even incoming freshmen, know that last year we left off on that pretty negative note,” Winslow senior Hannah Doble said. “Losing to Waterville really left a fire in our eyes, and more importantly, our heart, and gave us that big intensity to come in today and know what our ultimate goal is.”

At Waterville, senior Michaela DeVogt was back and practicing after missing nearly all of last season. Last Dec. 6, DeVogt suffered a torn lateral meniscus and a partially torn ACL, and missed the rest of the basketball season. She was cleared to play before softball season, but hurt her knee again and missed that season as well.

DeVogt said she was cleared to play again this summer, and was interested to see how she’d respond at Monday’s practice.

“I was super-nervous,” she said. “I’m usually anxious for the start of the season. I think I picked it up. I think I did all right. I’m happy with myself.”

DeVogt said she is still deciding whether to play basketball this season. She hopes to play softball in college, and with her ACL still partially torn, she is wary of an injury that might cause her to miss a second straight softball season.

The Winslow girls open their season at Maranacook on Dec. 5. The Forest Hills boys open their season at Vinalhaven the same night. That’s 18 days from Monday, and rosters will change a little bit before then. Still, Dec. 5 will sneak up on everyone quickly, as Amero realized when he saw his gym’s new finished floor.

“When you walk in, it smells like basketball,” Amero said. “Then I look out and it’s snowing outside. I’m like, ‘Boy, we got right into it, didn’t we?'”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo


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