It’s normal to have a slow start to your season. It’s not normal when your season has a slow start, and you haven’t even played your first regular-season game.

The reality is, that’s what the Thomas College women’s basketball team is facing. Former coach Dan Leland resigned shortly before the season, and new coach Emily Cummins didn’t have her first practice until Nov. 7 — 23 days after teams could start practicing with their coaches.

Out of 10 players on the roster, six are freshmen, and junior Lindsay Bellegarde is also a newcomer. The only players returning from last season are Ashleigh Gagne of Waterville (5.5 points, 6.0 rebounds per game last season), Katie McAllister of Pittston (10.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg) and sophomore Tess McClenahan (1.5 ppg, 1.8 rpg).

“It’s a great group of girls,” Cummins said. “Given the situation and the circumstances, everything has actually gone really well. They’ve responded. Practices have been great.”

David Roussel, the athletic director at Thomas, and Derek Gaudreau, the school’s sports information director, coached the Terriers before Cummins stepped in. Gaudreau is still on the scene as an assistant coach.

Cummins was on the Wilmington College team that beat previously undefeated Bowdoin for the NCAA Division III championship in 2004. She was Most Valuable Player of that year’s Sectional Tournament to put Wilmington in the final four. She coached three seasons at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark.

“I took a year out of coaching,” Cummins said, “and that made me really miss it, and just kind of hit home about the things that I did miss about it. The more research that I did (on Thomas), the more it sounded like a phenomenal opportunity.”

Cummins is aware of the program’s history. Thomas has had three coaches (Joy Charles, Ted Rioux and Leland) in the last five seasons. Cummins, the school’s first full-time coach, is hoping to provide some consistency.

The Terriers open their season with a home game at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday against the University of Maine at Augusta. From there, they travel to the Salem State University Tip-Off Tournament, where they’ll have games at 5:30 p.m., Friday and 1 p.m., Saturday. That’s three games in less than four full days.

“Obviously we could be in better shape, but we missed the whole preseason,” Cummins said. “With a roster of 10 kids, they’re a little winded. All I ask of my team is that we play hard and compete on every possession.”

• • •

Manchester native and Maranacook graduate Kayla Parker played the last four seasons with the Mt. Holyoke field hockey team. The Lions were 35-9 over the last two seasons and ranked 13th in the nation in Division III entering the tournament.

“We only graduated one senior last year,” Parker said. “We knew that we had six pretty strong first-years coming up as well.”

Parker started 38 games on defense over those two seasons. This year, Mt. Holyoke was 15-2 in the regular season, and won 10 games in a row at one point.

The Lions lost in overtime in their conference championship game against Wellesley, but defeated a solid Husson team, 2-0, in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

“We didn’t really play very well that game,” Parker said. “Defensively, we hadn’t encountered another team in a while that had four forwards. We stuck to our game plan.”

That game was on Mt. Holyoke’s home field. In the next round, the Lions had to play on Bowdoin’s home field, and were limited to an hour of practice on the turf.

“That game, we really had trouble playing on their Astroturf,” Parker said. “That kind of messed up our passing game a lot.”

The loss to Bowdoin was the final field hockey game of Parker’s career, and she said that notion hasn’t fully hit her yet.

“I think I’ll think about it more this coming (season), when I’m not on my way to double sessions,” she said.

Parker is a history major, and will graduate from Mt. Holyoke in the spring.

“Right now, I’m looking to do a short-term education or mentoring program,” she said. “There’s one program in Chicago that I’m a finalist for. I’m flying there in December.”

• • •

Victoria Weber, an Augusta native and Cony grad, is on her way to another strong season as a swimmer at Assumption College. In back-to-back weeks, Weber was named Northeast-10 Conference Swimmer of the Week.

Weber received her first honor Nov. 4, following her performance at the New England Invitational at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Weber placed first out of 31 swimmers in the 50-yard backstroke, first out of 36 in the 100 backstroke, and first out of 47 in the 200 IM. She was also part of two Assumption relay teams that captured first-place finishes.

On Nov. 7-8, Assumption competed in two meets, and Weber scored seven top-two finishes. In a home meet on the 8th, she broke individual pool records in the 100 backstroke and 200 IM, and also helped the Assumption 200 medley relay team break the pool record by more than three seconds.

• • •

As a sophomore on the men’s basketball team at UMaine-Augusta, Keith Chesley averaged 15.4 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Chelsey, a Clinton native and Lawrence High School grad, is off to an even better start as a junior.

Heading into Tuesday night’s game against Northern Maine Community College, Chesley was averaging 28.5 points and 11.8 rebounds over his last four games. He shot 56 percent over those four games, including 45 percent from three-point range. Chesley was also 25 of 30 (83 percent) from the free throw line.

The Moose are at Maine Maritime on Friday, then host Southern Maine Community College on Tuesday.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo


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