Milestone win for Waynflete coach; Cathie Connors earns 200th victory
PORTLAND—Monday afternoon's 17-6 home victory by the Waynflete girls' lacrosse team over Freeport wasn't just a run of the mill win in yet another season.
Instead, it proved historic.
That's because for the 200th time since inheriting the Flyers program at the ripe age of 22, coach Cathie Connors tasted triumph.
"I'm not really a numbers person," Connors said, moments after being engulfed in a team hug after news broke of her landmark. "It means that I've had 18 years of really amazing, fun times with lacrosse and the kids, many that I still have relationships with now. It's a nice number and all that. It means I've been around awhile too."
Waynflete's dynasty builder and the state's premier coach is now 200-37-1 in her time with the Flyers, with 10 of those wins coming in championship games.
Connors' 200th victory was very similar to so many in the past. Waynflete subdued its opponent with balanced offense (senior Amy Allen had six goals and was one of seven players to score), stifling zone defense and did the little things (winning 20 of 25 draws and grabbing 43 ground balls to Freeport's 25) so well.
Allen was happy to pay tribute to Connors after the win.
"I couldn't have asked to play for a better coach the past four years," Allen said. "It's been amazing. I know every player feels extremely proud to be on the team and to play for Cathie. She means a lot to all of us. The reason why we've been successful is that she makes us feel like we're all best friends and we are and she's one of our best friends. She's not just our coach. She gets it if we have bad days."
Connors, who grew up immersed in the sport of lacrosse on Long Island, played at Castleton State (Vt.) College, then, as Cathie Keenan, took over the Waynflete program for the 1993 season.
"I think the best thing I ever did was answer the ad," Connors said. "I thought I'd be there for a year. I love the school and the support of the community is unmatched and now I can't see myself anywhere else."
She's never suffered a sub-.500 campaign and has never fallen short of the semifinal round of the playoffs. Connors won a state title in 1997, just days after the birth of her son, Joseph, and coached the Flyers to the 2003 championship, when she was six months pregnant with her daughter, Jessica.
In total, since the Maine Principals' Association began sanctioning girls' lacrosse in 1998, Connors has led Waynflete to eight championships.
Yarmouth coach Dorothy Holt feels that Connors sets the bar for excellence.
"First of all, she's a fabulous coach," said Holt. "She holds the standard for all the coaches in Maine. I strive to be like her. She's the most consistent coach. She really teaches her kids great lacrosse. She could go anywhere to coach and be successful. Congratulations to her."
Waynflete athletic director Ross Burdick also had plenty of praise to bestow.
"Cathie is not only the heart and soul of the Waynflete girls' lacrosse program, but she is also a dedicated ambassador for the sport of girls' lacrosse in Maine," Burdick said. "She cares so deeply about her teams and individual players that they always give her an outstanding effort on the field. Cathie embodies the spirit of sportsmanship and fair play. She treats all officials, coaches and players with respect. She is an outstanding coach, but an even better person. I am honored to work with her and am privileged to see her in action every day. Waynflete is truly fortunate to have Cathie Connors on our coaching staff."
Connors hopes to stick around long enough to chase No. 300 and win a few more championships along the way.
"I plan on being here for awhile," she said. "I couldn't imagine myself anywhere else. The administration is wonderful. Ross is unreal. I get so much support. Why even think about going anywhere else?"
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com