By Melissa Brady, Staff Writer
The smell of anticipation, new basketball shoes and a freshly renovated Dearborn Gym was prominent at the first game of the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) Beaver’s women’s basketball team against the Maine Maritime Academy (MMA) Mariners.
Head Coach Jamie Beaudoin, along with captains Lindsay Ranquist and Bianca Stoutamyer share the excitement of being the first team to be able to play on the new floor at Dearborn. “We outlived our previous floor by close to years,” said Beaudoin. “Despite the old floor looking good from a distance, there were many patches, holes, exposed nails and was no longer a smooth surface due to age and other factors.”
“It is a huge stress relief to be on the new court,” said Bianca Stoutmyer. While the floor was being replaced, the team was forced to practice elsewhere. “Traveling to Mt. Blue High School or Mt. Blue Middle School every night made it extremely stressful,” said Stoutamyer. The Beavers had to practice on 84-foot courts rather than their normal 94-foot court. “Despite this, the players remained focused and did not let the inconvenience of Dearborn being unavailable become a distraction,” said Coach Beaudoin.
As a senior on the team, Captain Lindsay Ranquist, second guard for the Beavers, has been playing basketball for the past 16 years. “I’m a little nervous,” said Ranquist about her first game. “I don’t get that nervous anymore since I’ve been playing for so long. I normally get butterflies before the game, but once I hit the floor they go away.” This will be Ranquist’s last season with the Beavers. “It’s exciting and sad,” she said. “I am so excited to play my last ‘first’ game on the new court,” but “[I know] that after this season, I won’t be able to experience playing basketball with a team.”
Stoutamyer shares the same feelings as Ranquist.“I’m excited for the season and to play with the team for another year,” said Stoutamyer. “When I do think about it I am a little sad that this marks the beginning of the end of my playing career.”
With the season just beginning it comes with challenges. “You have to adjust to new players, a new role you may have as a player on the ream and you have develop chemistry with the other players you play with on the court,” said Stoutamyer. “I am proud of how we have adjusted but we still have a ways to go to get where we want as a team. My goals for the team are to get a home playoff game and to compete for the NAC championship.”
The Beavers put themselves and Dearborn to the test Tuesday night and came out with a win 60-56 over the Mariners; a great start to the 2014-2015 basketball season.