Spring Sports Preview

Coaches weigh in on this season’s outlook

BY AZLINE MAURAIS, STAFF WRITER

Spring sports are now well underway and teams are entering regular-season competitions this week or next. Below are our varsity coaches speaking to this year’s expectations, challenges, and goals.


BASEBALL

BASEBALL: Coach Kyle Bernier

This is Coach Kyle Bernier’s first season coaching for the Spartans and we asked him to share a little bit about his background in baseball and coaching. 

Can you tell us a little about your baseball and coaching background?

I was a four-year member of the New England College baseball team and served as a captain my last two years. After I graduated from New England College, I helped coach both JV and Varsity baseball for a year at Spaulding High School in Rochester, N.H., which was where I went to high school. I then went on to Springfield College for grad school and was a graduate assistant on the baseball team for two years. During the summer after my last year at Springfield, I was the pitching coach for the Westfield Starfires in the future’s collegiate baseball league. This was during the first year of COVID, and we were one of the only leagues that had a season, so a lot of the top college baseball players around the country were playing in this league. It was some of the best baseball I’ve ever been a part of, and a great experience.

What are you most excited about in your first year as head coach?

I don’t know if I can narrow it down to one specific thing. After getting the opportunity to coach some of these kids during the summer, it didn’t take me long to realize they were a special group of kids. More than anything else they just wanted to win. I guess I am most excited about trying to build and execute the vision I have for this program not only now, but for years to come. We have a group of kids that really want to be successful, so I’m going to do everything I can to help get us there.

Who are the top returners, and/or newcomers you are excited about?

After seeing all these kids work for a couple weeks now, there is a lot to be excited about. As I’ve said there is a lot of talent in this program. To single just a few out would be very difficult to do. In order to get where we want to be as a team and program it is going to take a collective effort. There isn’t one guy or a group of guys that can get it done alone, it is going to take everyone coming together as one, as a team. This is something all the coaches have been preaching, so I’m excited to see our guys take this challenge on.

What are your goals for this season? Any challenges you anticipate? 

The ultimate goal is to win a state championship, but that’s the easy answer. Beyond that, I want to not only see our guys be successful on the field but be successful off the field as well. That means the energy and effort they put into baseball; they are matching if not exceeding in the classroom. My final goal is to be the best team at controlling what we can control. I believe this one will be the most important in getting where we want to be. As for challenges, I really don’t foresee anything coming up I won’t be able to handle. I’ve coached at the high school and college level, so there isn’t much I haven’t seen yet. I think if everyone buys into the direction we are trying to take this program, we will be in great shape. 

What are you most looking forward to this season?

The two things I am looking forward to the most are watching these kids compete and winning. Personally, I am as competitive as it gets, and from what I’ve seen so far a lot of our guys are the same way. I think that there will be a lot of teams that come in sleeping on us and then have no idea what hit them when that final out is recorded. If our guys come together and play as one, we can be a very dangerous team.


LACROSSE

Boys Lacrosse: Coach Nate McLellan 

Coach Nate McLellan is the varsity boys lacrosse coach and is looking forward to some wins for their team this year! Here is what he has to say: 

What did your 2020/21 season look like? What was your record?

Our 2020/21 Season was 2-10 with a playoff lost to Noble in the first round. 

What were the biggest challenges given the pandemic? 

Our team was a mix of juniors and freshmen that worked hard together throughout the season to build chemistry. Near the end of the season the team really started to show their strengths and what they are able to accomplish when they work together as a team. 

Who are the top returners, and/or newcomers you are excited about?

Our top returners are Jackson Lyles, Parker Pease, Matt Cote, Hunter Stevens, Cole Lizotte, and AJ Anderson. Newcomers I am excited about are Ayden Lockard and Cam Eckelman. 

What are your goals for this season? Any challenges you anticipate? 

Goals this season is to add some check marks in the win column and improve the level of play for Sanford Lacrosse. 

What are you most looking forward to this season?

Looking forward to making some final memories with the senior class, and finding out which underclassmen are going to evolve into leaders as the season progresses. 


Girls Lacrosse: Kelly Foley

This is Coach Kelly Foley’s second season as the girls varsity lacrosse coach, who saw some great enrollment numbers and interest in this growing sport.

What did your 2020/21 season look like? What was your record?

Last season was my first year as head coach and we had great numbers despite the pandemic. About 1/3 of our players were brand new to lacrosse, which shows the exciting growth of the sport. In general, we focused a lot on skill and strategy fundamentals to build a strong foundation. We had a tough schedule because of the pandemic and had to play local teams only. We finished 3-9 but saw massive improvements over the course of our season, which is important.

What were the biggest challenges given the pandemic? 

Our biggest challenge was definitely attendance – we never had a time where some players weren’t quarantined. At one point we even had to shut down for 14 days but showed resilience and dedication by working out together via Zoom. Also, we weren’t able to do any team bonding outside of practice, which is really important to me.

Who are the top returners, and/or newcomers you are excited about?

I’m thankful to have so many great returners this year – honestly too many to name. I’m looking forward to seeing both seniors and juniors step into some leadership roles on and off the field. We also have a lot of athletic and talented first-year players join our program this year as well, which gives me a lot of excitement for the future of the program.

What are your goals for this season? Any challenges you anticipate? 

Our goals this season are to continue strengthening our stick skills and foundational knowledge of the game, and to execute even more strategy — specifically building a strong offensive mindset to complement our defensive talents. We’ve got some tough games in our schedule and I’m excited to see how we battle.

What are you most looking forward to this season?

I’m looking forward to watching this team come together on and off the field. We’ve got a great group of players in this program that are ready to improve their skills and abilities and show what Sanford has to offer. 


SOFTBALL

SOFTBALL: Coach SHEPPARD

Coach Sheppard is stepping into his first year as head coach of the girls softball team. Here’s what he shared:

Who are the top returners, and/or newcomers you are excited about?

The softball team will be led into the 2022 season by its four returning starters. Sophomore catcher Hannah Mueller is coming back from a freshman season in which she hit .417 with 2 home runs and 20 RBI’s and multiple extra-base hits. Junior Pitcher/Captain Madison Sheppard will be back in the circle again this year after leading the team last year with 98 strikeouts over 71 innings. Sheppard, who was named all-conference last year, also hit .298 with 2 home runs. Senior Captain Libby Alexander will be running the outfield again in center field and is always finding a way on base with her .753 on base percentage from 2021. Captain Tori Parker will return to the infield, Parker hit an impressive .333 last year and is committed to playing next year at Thomas College.

We have a very promising group of underclassmen and players who are trying to get back into the game after the pandemic including Annie Cyr, Azline Mauris, Julissa BcBarron, Ava Gendron, Addison Long, Ryen Baker, Meg Shappard and Maddie Allen.

What are your goals for this season? Any challenges you anticipate? 

Sanford lost 6 starters from last year and will be fielding a young team looking to grow and develop. On top of losing those starters, the pandemic has really hit Sanford and a lot of neighboring communities hard in their athletic programs, as a lot of would-be players missed out on a season or two of play. 

What are you most looking forward to this season?

I’m looking forward to getting these players on the field and working to improve every day.


TENNIS

BOYS TENNIS: Coach Rossie Kearson 

Fresh out of (a very brief) retirement is Coach Rossie Kearson. Many of the athletes who are playing tennis liked him so much that he came back to coach his new last season with them!

What did your 2020/21 season look like? What was your record?

The season last season was different due to COVID-19.  On the bus rides, we had to wear our masks but when we were out on the court we didn’t have to.  Being outside was nice.  As far as our record went we were 2-10.  Our two victories were against Massabesic.

What were the biggest challenges given the pandemic? 

Masks and keeping track of our daily attendance were challenging. I had to be very detailed when players weren’t present due to contact tracing.  

Who are the top returners, and/or newcomers you are excited about?

Returners are Anthony Signore, Ben English, and Chase Wilson.

What are your goals for this season? Any challenges you anticipate? 

My goal for this season is for the kids to improve and enjoy playing.

What are you most looking forward to this season?

A sense of normalcy for the kids. COVID has been hard on everyone, especially those involved in sports.


Girls Tennis: Coach Lindsay Strout

Coach Lindsay Strout enters her first year as the girls tennis coach and has been excited to have something to do after school! She worked with some returning players to answer the following questions.

What did your 2020/21 season look like? What was your record?

The girls tennis team ended the 2021 season with two wins in a row, ending on a high note! We were more bonded as a team and got strong as the season went on.

What were the biggest challenges given the pandemic? 

Playing with masks on, especially with the heat! The whole team had to quarantine multiple times during the season.  Balancing hybrid and in-person practices was tough. New coaches, new players, and a very young team last year. 

Who are the top returners, and/or newcomers you are excited about?

Top returners are Olivia Guinard, Sophia Tounge, Sophia Corliss and Audrey Cote! We are excited about the newcomers, to build relationships with each other, build friendships, and teach each other the skills of tennis. 

What are your goals for this season? Any challenges you anticipate? 

Our goals this season are to have more team wins, gain more skills and confidence on the courts!  Our challenges… playing some tougher schools that have strong and more experienced players, but we’ve got this!

What are you most looking forward to this season?

Being a part of a team!  Having something to do after school, having purpose! Playing outside! Team Bonding, learning the sport of tennis, gaining more skills, and picking up where I left off.


TRACK

Boys Track: Kevin Way 

Coach Kevin Way is the boys track coach and he shared some of his thoughts about the upcoming and past seasons. 

What did your 2020/21 season look like? What was your record? 

A strange but great season!  We had a 6-3 season with several state meet qualifiers.

What were the biggest challenges given the pandemic?   

Masks!  Especially for the runners. It was the beginning of non-mask time for sports outside. Numbers were down due to the strangeness of the pandemic.  

Who are the top returners, and/or newcomers you are excited about?  

Distance: Josh Werner, JP Alexandre  

Many strong returners from each event group:  Throws/jumps/sprints/distance

What are your goals for this season? Any challenges you anticipate? 

Many state qualifiers/competitive relays. State placers.

What are you most looking forward to this season?  

Growth and progress of a strong group of young men.  Success in events and character leadership on and off the field!


GIRLS TRACK: STEVEN WALKER

Head Coach Steven Walker enters his final season in girls track as well as his final year of teaching. Walker has coached the squad for nearly 35 years and will be retiring at the end of the school year.

What did your 2020/21 season look like? What was your record?

Last year about 500, middles of the pack

What were the biggest challenges given the pandemic? 

Numbers were low during COVID

Who are the top returners, and/or newcomers you are excited about?

Returners: Taylor Tovey, Celia Perks, Jaylyn Bartolome, Makayla O’Brien, Ana Cote, Misty Adams, Skye Morison, Grace Fleming.

New: Adeline Fiandaca, Sophie Therrien, Blair Martin

What are your goals for this season? Any challenges you anticipate? 

Gets kids to improve throughout the season.


We wish the best of luck to all our spring coaches and athletes this season. Go Spartans!

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