(Ed. Note: This story will appear in our July 18 northern print edition)
Prior to this season, the Falmouth baseball team had been consistently competitive, but hadn’t been able to take the next step and compete for and win a championship.
That wasn’t supposed to happen this spring either, but the Yachtsmen got off to a sizzling start and behind a team-wide effort, found themselves at the top of the heap.
Pushing all the right buttons was coach Kevin Winship, who utilized the entire roster and got his charges to believe they have no peer, a performance that gets him the nod as our northern edition Spring Coach of the Year, of a boys’ team.
Winship is a Portland High graduate. He played golf, hockey and baseball in high school. He came to baseball naturally. His father, Gary, once tried out at Western Kentucky. After attending the University of Maine, Winship began teaching physical education at Memorial Middle School in South Portland and got into coaching. He took the Portland High junior varsity baseball job in 2000 and took a similar position in South Portland six years later before serving as the Red Riots’ varsity assistant in 2007 and 2008.
Winship credits a couple of his mentors, longtime coaches Tony DiBiase and Mike Rutherford, for setting him on the road to his success.
“I owe a lot to those two guys,” Winship said. “I saw two different varsity coaching styles.”
Winship took over the Yachtsmen in 2009. Last year, Falmouth was on the brink of upsetting eventual regional champion Greely in the semifinals before a bad inning sent the Yachtsmen home. An abundance of talent returned, but Falmouth wasn’t considered championship-worthy by the pundits in the preseason.
In response, the Yachtsmen won their first 11 games and wound up 13-3, good for the second seed in the region. While top-ranked Greely was sent packing in the quarterfinals, Falmouth handled Spruce Mountain and Morse to reach the Western B Final for the first time. There, the Yachtsmen were no-hit by Cape Elizabeth, but still found a way to score a run in the eighth inning to advance to the state game where they blanked Foxcroft, 2-0, to win Class B for the first time. It was Falmouth’s first championship in any class since winning Class C 1998.
“The kids believed they were good,” Winship said. “It was a fun ride.”
Winship was able to turn Thomas Fortier into the staff ace, while getting the most out of his other talented arms and crafted a lineup that saw everyone deliver key hits, most notably the No. 9 hitter, Ryan Conley, who had a couple huge postseason knocks.
Winship is an avid golfer. He lives in Portland with his wife, Liz, and sons, Colby (9) and Nicholas (6). He looks forward to making a run at a repeat next season.
Kevin Winship, our northern edition boys’ team Coach of the Year, can bask in the glow of this title. It was a long time in coming and thrilled the town of Falmouth.
2011 winner; Bob McCully (Falmouth tennis)
2010 winner: Marc Halsted (Yarmouth baseball)
2009 winner: Mike LeBel (Falmouth lacrosse)
2008 winner: Casey Abbott (Greely lacrosse)
2007 winner: Derek Soule (Greely baseball)
2006 winner: Chris Carpentier (Freeport lacrosse)
2005 winner: Chris Mazzurco (NYA track)
2004 winner: Craig Curry (Yarmouth lacrosse)
2003 winner: Bruce Poliquin (NYA baseball)
2002 winner: Hank Ogilby (Freeport baseball)
After a regular season of quietly holding its own, the Freeport girls’ lacrosse team stole headlines in the postseason, knocking off traditional power and reigning state champion Yarmouth to make it to the state final for the first time.
The Falcons got better as the season progressed, got contributions from a lot of different sources and threw caution to the wind in the playoffs, making it all the way to the season’s final day.
Much of the credit has to go to coach Karin Kurry. After what she accomplished, she gets our nod as our northern edition Spring 2012 Coach of the Year, of a girls’ team.
Kurry grew up in Princeton, N.J. She played field hockey and lacrosse and ran track in high school. She did the same at Colby College, where she met her husband, Jorma, who coaches track at Falmouth High.
Kurry coached track for several years before starting the Deering girls’ lacrosse program. Despite not having experience, Kurry coached the Rams to several successful seasons in her six years. She took over the Freeport program in 2009. After making the playoffs that first year, the Falcons fell short the past two seasons.
Things turned around in a big way this spring.
Freeport earned confidence with early wins over traditional contenders North Yarmouth Academy and Greely (a stunning 12-11 triumph after trailing, 11-4). The Falcons finished 6-6 against a challenging schedule and with NYA and Yarmouth not at their usual top level, took advantage and wound up the top seed in Eastern B.
Freeport handled Gardiner in the semifinals, 16-4, and earned a date with the Clippers in the regional final. It proved to be one for the ages as once again the Falcons managed to pull off a dramatic rally. Down 9-5 in the second half, Freeport roared back, forced overtime and won, 12-11. The Falcons weren’t able to cap the Cinderella run with a championship, losing to Waynflete in the Class B state game.
“We went way beyond expectations,” said Kurry, who believes her greatest strengths as a coach are her connection with the girls and her focus on them as whole people, not just athletes. “Our goal was to make the playoffs. I felt like we should have gone last year. The Greely win gave the girls confidence. The Yarmouth win was amazing. We wanted to enjoy the experience at states.”
Freeport senior Alexandra Mitch calls Kurry a great motivator.
“She really pushed us,” Mitch said. “She helped us visualize what it would mean to get to states. She wanted it as badly as we did.”
Kurry teaches science at Freeport High School. She also serves as an assistant on the Falcons field hockey team.
Kurry, who lives in Falmouth, is an avid runner. She’s the mother of a son, Iain.
Karin Kurry, our Spring 2012 northern edition girls’ Coach of the Year, got her team to reach great and unexpected heights. It won’t be the last time.
2011 winner: Sara Dimick (Greely)
2010 winner: Julia Sterling (NYA lacrosse)
2009 winner: Sandra Stone (Falmouth tennis)
2008 winner: Julia Littlefield (NYA lacrosse)
2007 winner: Robin Haley (Falmouth lacrosse)
2006 winner: Dorothy Holt (Yarmouth lacrosse)
2005 winner: Sandra Stone (Falmouth tennis)
2004 winner: Ann Harradon (Yarmouth tennis)
2003 winner: Julia Seely (NYA tennis)
2002 winner: Julia Littlefield (Yarmouth lacrosse)