Community event

Mitchell alumni games back on court, raise $2,250 for scholarships

'Once A Buc, Always A Buc' motto for return of popular event
By Mark Haskell | Nov 23, 2012
Photo by: Mark Haskell The ball gets away from David Wilgus, right, and Shawn Hiller during the ninth Nathan Mitchell Basketball Games Nov. 21 at Oceanside West in Thomaston. The Georges Valley High School alumni games were brought back after a one-year hiatus.

Thomaston — It may now be Oceanside West School by day, but for one night only — Wednesday, Nov. 21 — the building again felt like Georges Valley High School with the playing of the Nathan Mitchell Memorial Basketball Games.

The once annual event is in honor of Nathan Mitchell, a student-athlete in then Maine School Administrative District 50, which included Thomaston, St. George and Cushing. Mitchell died, at age 15, in 2002 of brain cancer.

The Buccaneer alumni games were not held last year after eight years with the consolidation of Georges Valley and Rockland District High School to form Oceanside High School.

However, after a one-year stint on the sideline, the games are back. And they appear here to stay.

"I guess a lot of people were disappointed we didn't have the game last year," said Marion Mitchell, Nathan's mother. "I thought there wouldn't be as much community support with the consolidation, but Lysha [Smith] contacted some people. I think [event committee members] Lysha [Smith], Rachel [Campbell], Britta [Sturks] and Matt Judkins deserve a lot of kudos for this. They really did the bulk of it."

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Mitchell handled much of the organizing for the raffles and the bake sale, while the others organized the teams, ordered shirts and lined up game officials.

The ninth event raised $2,250 for the Nathan Mitchell Scholarship Fund. Mitchell said she plans to award two $500 scholarships this year to deserving Oceanside High School graduates.

"At first I thought the scholarship should be for a graduate from Thomaston, St. George or Cushing because historically that's what we've done," she said. "But Nathan would have wanted to include Rockland, Owls Head and South Thomaston."

Many of the event organizers were thrilled with the reception for the return of the games.

"I thought it went great," said Smith. "We had a lot of guys out playing and a lot of girls out playing. It's a great thing for the community to get back together and have a little GV pride. And it's always a great way to remember Nathan and hopefully honor someone who works hard in school and gets a scholarship."

"It's a great community event," said Judkins. "I'm glad that even without the school being here we can keep it going and I'm especially proud of my class. Having the guys that played sports with [Nathan] and grew up with him make it, it's really special for that reason."

"It's pretty cool that we're all in different areas now but we can all come back for this game to remember him," Judkins said. "It's a cool thing."

Campbell, who along with Sturks came up with the slogan, "Once A Buc, Always A Buc" for the game jerseys, said she takes a great deal of pride in her Buccaneer roots.

"I think the community came together because everyone has a lot of Georges Valley pride," Campbell said. "I miss it and it's too bad it's not here anymore, but I think next year will be bigger now that it's back. It brings all of us together again and for a great cause."

Mitchell said it was wonderful to be able to reconnect with many of her son's classmates. According to the event program, eight members from the Class Of 2005, what would have been Nathan's graduating class, played in the games.

"They all became fast friends, [and] the parents became fast friends," said Mitchell. "And it's stayed that way. All the moms here [helping volunteer with the bake sale] are parents of kids that graduated with Nathan. We all used to sit together and watch the kids play."

"The kids that were close to Nathan have stayed close to me. I love it," Mitchell said.

In the alumnae game, the white team prevailed 37,29, while in the alumni game, the green team emerged victorious 45-37. No scorebook was kept for the men's game.

Team members for the alumnae green team were Debbie (Knutson) Burns, 1999; Ann (Betts) Daggett, 1999; Stephanie (Hiller) Williams, 2000; Elena Bertocci, 2005; Chelsey Eugley, 2006; Samantha Ferra, 2006; Kashia Shepard, 2007; Amy Choudhari, 2007; Nicole Poland, 2008; Ashley Geel, 2008; and Dani Leavitt, 2009. The team was coached by Rusty Worcester.

Team members for the alumnae white team were Angela (Chase) Vachon, 1983; Nikki (Powell) Fiske, 1988; Michelle (Collins) Bodman, 1992; Mia (Lombardo) Feltis, 1996; Gretchen (Knutson) Tripp, 1998; Stacy Campbell, 1999; Meghan Miller, 2002; Rachel Campbell, 2004; Britta Sturks, 2005; Jill Bradbury, 2012; and Jennifer Denault, 2012. The team was coached by Dwight Henry.

Team members for the alumni green team were Travis Thorbjornson, 1986; Ben Tripp, 1998; Lysha Smith ,1999; Bradley Strong, 2003; A.J. Staples, 2004; David Wilgus, 2004; Mark Chamberlain, 2005; Jesse Wilgus, 2005; Sean Carlson, 2005; Zach Thorbjornson, 2005; Stephen Ranney, 2006; Cote Baughman, 2007; Nate Frisbee, 2007; Trevor Wilson, 2008; Ben Wallace, 2012; and Alex Wallace, 2012. The team was coached by Smith. Travis and Zach Thorbjornson are father and son, while the Wallaces are identical twin brothers.

Team members for the alumni white team were John Petersdorf, 1990; Shawn Hiller, 2003; James Sturks, 2003; Matt Judkins, 2005; Tom Rogers, 2005; Phil Bertocci, 2007; Thomas Woodman, 2007; Travis Merrifield, 2007; Chris Eustis, 2008; Justin Henry, 2008; Brandon Staples, 2008; Cheaney Oakes, 2009; Alex Grierson, 2009; Dean Cline, 2011; and Dylan Maloney, 2012. The team was coached by Judkins.

In the alumnae game, the green team led 9-5 after the first quarter, while white rebounded to take a 13-11 edge at halftime. Green gained a 24-23 advantage after three quarters before white went on a 14-5 run to end the game.

Bradbury led the white team with 10 points, while Sturks added eight; Rachel Campbell and Feltis, both six; Stacy Campbell, three; and Vachon and Tripp, both two.

For the green team, Geel led the way with a six-point effort, while Daggett, Bertocci and Choudhari all added four; Eugley and Parra, both three; Burns and Leavitt, both two; and Poland, one.

In the alumni game, the white team got off to a 12-0 lead before the green team finally scored and rattled off a slew of points, including Wilson, who, at one point, scored six straight in the first quarter.

The green team took its first lead in the second quarter at 22-21 and the game went back-and-forth throughout the remainder of the contest, with the green team pulling away in the fourth.

Perhaps the highlight of the night was the 3-point shooting contest, with raffle ticket numbers being called and the ticket holders being able to shoot for a cool, crisp $100 bill.

After several shooters failed in their attempts, 13-year-old Erin Dugan of Rockland swished a trey from the top of the key to bring many spectators to their feet to cheer. That shot also earned the teenager a quick $100.

Bill Stuart and John Sprague officiated the games, while Dave Johanson emceed the event and Patrick Wallace provided the music. Rene Thorbjornson, Lora Ludwig and Sue Johanson also volunteered for the event.

Courier Publications Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at mhaskell@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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