Messalonskee catcher Brooke Martin holds up the glove to the ump, who calls out Skowhegan runner Amber Merry during a 2019 Class A North semifinal game in Skowhegan. FIle photo

Jimmy Reed, a senior on the Skowhegan baseball team, heard the news that a normal spring season was on the way from an unusual source.

His grandfather told him.

“I had no idea,” he said. “I’m super excited. After last year, not having baseball season, finding out we’re going to have a regular season … this is unbelievable. I love this news.”

The news was the Maine Principals’ Association’s announcement Friday that it will hold regional and state championships in baseball, softball, lacrosse, outdoor track and field and tennis. After not having a season at all in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, spring athletes will be the first to play for the normal state titles since winter athletes did in 2019-20.

And for the athletes who had to go without their sport a year ago, it’s a long-awaited return.

“I definitely missed all the guys that I’ve been playing with growing up,” Reed said. “This is going to be an exciting season with the boys, especially (being) the last one.”

Brooke Martin, a senior on the Messalonskee softball team, said she knew she and her teammates would be back on the field this season, given that many fall and winter athletes got to play their sports. She just didn’t know if the spring season would look any different than the fall and winter seasons, which featured regional competition and no state tournaments.

“Most of us were expecting just the local matchups type of thing, like it was for basketball. I don’t think we were expecting it to be statewide,” she said. “It was really amazing news. We really couldn’t ask for anything better at this point.”

Martin said missing the entire 2020 season has only increased the anticipation for this one.

“We lost everything. We didn’t get a chance to even practice or try out or anything,” she said. “It just builds the appreciation. We don’t know what we’re going to get. We have to appreciate everything. We cannot take for granted a single second.”

Carly Warn, a senior on the Winslow outdoor track and field team, lost not only last spring, but this past winter season effectively as well. Winter track was limited primarily to practices and weight training.

“It’s very exciting that we’ll be able to have championships, which are really important to me,” said Warn, who won the Class B triple jump and was third in the 100 as a sophomore in 2019. “It definitely means a lot to me, just because I’ve been doing track ever since I was really little, and I’ve always just enjoyed being with the great (athletes). I’m also very competitive, so it’s very fun for me.”

Warn also thought the spring would be scaled back like the fall and winter seasons were.

“I was kind of shocked in the beginning (after hearing the news), just because I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect,” she said. “But I was really happy, and really excited for the opportunity to be out on the track again.”

Athletes weren’t the only ones happy to hear the announcement. Kyle Bishop, the baseball coach at Hall-Dale, was supposed to have his first season at the Bulldogs’ helm last spring, but will finally get to make his head coaching debut.

Winslow’s Carly Warn competes in the 100-meter finals at the 2019 Class B track and field championship meet in Brewer. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“We knew we were going to play in some capacity, and you hear the rumors of is it going to be full, is it going to be regionalized like the winter sports were, so it was just kind of a waiting game,” he said. “We waited anxiously and we got some good news, so we’re looking forward to it.”

Like other coaches, Messalonskee girls lacrosse head coach Crystal Leavitt is excited to get back on the field. Not only did her program not fall apart during the pandemic, it actually grew.

“I heard word that there’s over 30 girls signed up right now,” Leavitt said. “The kids are ready to get out and do stuff, get outside, play, be with their friends.”

“I’m so excited,” Leavitt continued. “I was actually on vacation last week when it came out. I found out because the girls were texting me and asking ‘coach, is this real?’ I was ready to come back home and go ‘OK, let’s get this started.'”

Gardiner boys lacrosse coach KC Johnson is also excited to get back on the field, but is curious how it will all go.

“I’m still waiting on word from our (school) district and the conference and then, really how they’re going to put into play crossover (games), if that’s happening going forward. (There’s) a little apprehension, but it is what it is.”

“It’s a matter of where we’re going next and seeing what all districts have to say about it,” Johnson said. “The (Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference) is a pretty big conference, so it’ll be interesting to see how everyone feels about it… It’ll be interesting to see how some school districts feel about this.”

 

Staff writer Dave Dyer contributed to this report.

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