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While Scarborough is already recognized an athletic powerhouse to envy, what the Red Storm accomplished this spring was mind-boggling.
After a stellar regular season which saw every varsity squad post a winning mark and qualify for the playoffs, Scarborough kept the good times rolling, as the girls’ outdoor track team fell four points shy of another state title, both tennis teams reached states for the first time and if that wasn’t enough, boys’ lacrosse, girls’ lacrosse and softball all won Class A crowns within a few hours of each other on June 18.
“It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before, seven state championships in one year and three on one day,” said first-year Red Storm athletic director Mike LeGage. “I think we’re blessed with great kids in a climate that’s very supportive of athletics.”
In the fall, Scarborough won Class A titles in boys’ cross-country and girls’ soccer (a team which was truly perfect, not losing a game or surrendering a single goal). Football underwent a renaissance and boys’ soccer and field hockey were the top seeds in their region.
Both indoor track teams won states in the winter, while girls’ hockey was the top ranked team in its region.
Then came this spring where the Red Storm set the bar even higher.
Baseball went 11-5 in the regular season, wound up fourth in Western A, then was upset in extra innings by No. 5 South Portland in the quarterfinals. Girls’ outdoor track’s quest for a fifth championship in six seasons fell just short as Bonny Eagle wound up eking out a title (by a 82-78 margin). The boys’ team, undefeated much of the regular season, was eighth at states. Each tennis team then made an unexpected run to the state final, uncharted waters, before falling to perennial powerhouse Lewiston.
That left the two lacrosse teams and softball.
Softball was expected to play second-fiddle to defending champion South Portland and even lost to the Red Riots in the regular season, but on June 15, the Red Storm pushed across a first inning run and junior ace Mo Hannan did the rest in a 1-0 victory. Three days later, Scarborough left no doubt with a 5-0 victory in the state final over Messalonskee.
Boys’ lacrosse was supposed to win it all after returning a core of standouts from the 2010 champion and other than an early-season home loss to eventual Class B champion Falmouth, had no peer, capping its run with a 6-4 victory over Lewiston in the Class A Final.
The girls’ team was another story. The Red Storm graduated a ton after winning in 2010, but this year’s group came of age quickly, overcame an early loss to eventual Class B champion Yarmouth and survived a playoff scare versus Thornton Academy before beating Kennebunk in the regional final and holding off Brunswick, 13-11, to win it all.
Marcia Wood, the coach of the girls’ lacrosse squad, feels that much of the reason for the school’s dominance starts long before athletes reach high school.
“It’s the youth program,” Wood said. “The parents volunteer their time. I’ve heard parents say to the little ones, ‘That could be you someday.’ Next year’s freshman class I’ve worked with since they were in the second grade. This town loves lacrosse. It’s exciting to see all the youth in the stands.”
LeGage feels that there’s plenty of credit to pass around.
“It’s great kids, great coaches, great facilities and great parents,” he said. “It really creates a formula to be successful. Athletics are an extension of the classroom. We measure success in a number of ways. It’s not just the state championships, but the educational value kids get from activities.
“State championships aren’t easy to come by. Kids have to work hard to keep their grades up and they have a lot of practice time. We have a great youth program and wonderful facilities that we can offer to not only our athletes, but all students. The quality of the coaching staff is certainly the greatest factor in our success. The kids are hard workers and motivated, a great group that wants to be successful, but that has to be navigated. We’re so fortunate here in Scarborough with the quality of our coaches. We have a great parent support network. We couldn’t do what we do without parental involvement in boosters and helping to raise funds.”
Since joining the Southern Maine Activities Association full-time in the 2003-04 school year, Scarborough has won 35 state championships. Being at the top level of competition has benefited the Red Storm.
“We really did not become this successful until we became a Class A school,” said softball coach Tom Griffin, who’s been involved with the school for over two decades, since Scarborough’s teams were known as the Redskins. “I think some of our sports, like cross-country, soccer and lacrosse actually benefited because Class B schools were traditionally stronger. We did suffer in some of the more traditional sports that Class A is usually stronger, such as basketball and football.
“Once we became a Class A school and found some success, things started to steamroll as our population grew. Success breeds success and the more you win the more you are expected to win. This town’s sports attitude has changed so much since I started teaching here 25 years ago. When I first got here, all I would hear was, ‘How can we beat Cape Elizabeth?’ and ‘Our kids are not tough enough.’ Now, it is expected of you to excel in the classroom and on the athletic field and put in the time in the offseason.”
Griffin feels there are other factors as well.
“More families in Scarborough can afford travel programs, private lessons, etc.,” he said. “Our population growth brought in a great deal of well-educated middle and upper middle class families that have been more involved in the school education and extra-curricular athletics.”
This town’s run shows no sign of slowing down. The rest of the state might have to grow accustomed to seeing Red Storm celebrations.
This was a very familiar scene for Scarborough athletics on June 18 and throughout the past school year. It doesn’t figure to change anytime soon.