Nokomis High School's Cooper Flagg takes the ball to the hoop during the Maine Class A boys basketball championship game at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Saturday, March 5, 2022. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Saturday evening’s celebration honoring Nokomis Regional High School winning its first Class A state championship in boys basketball featured the traditional elements many other title-winning teams around the state have experienced over the years.

Fireworks and a motorcade welcomed the Warriors back to Newport after their 43-27 victory over Falmouth, followed by a rally back at the school.

And while spirits were high, this ceremony featured an additional sense of school and community spirit when the team’s freshman standout, Cooper Flagg, presented a $1,000 check to a family friend and 2021 graduate of the school who is battling brain cancer.

The donation to Donovan Kurt — a former baseball, basketball and soccer player at Nokomis — and his parents, Mike and Trisha Kurt, stemmed from a recent fundraising effort that involved the sale of T-shirts bearing an image of the 6-foot-7 Flagg dunking over an opponent during a Jan. 20 home game against Brewer.

These “Flat Out Filty” T-shirts showing Nokomis Regional High School basketball star Cooper Flagg dunking during a game were used as a fundraiser for a former student-athlete at the school who is battling brain cancer. Credit: Courtesy of Nokomis Warrior Broadcasting

It originally was conceived by Matt Brown, director of Nokomis Warrior Broadcasting, a  multimedia program that among other things provides live-streaming of school athletic events and other activities.

“I’m always looking for fundraisers for the program, so if we need to buy a camera or need to buy equipment, we can raise the money,” he said. “Initially that’s what it was, I was thinking I’d like to do a fundraiser for broadcasting.”

But after gaining permission to use the published picture of one of Cooper Flagg’s dunks, Brown approached Cooper Flagg and his parents, Ralph and Kelly (Bowman) Flagg, and from that conversation came the idea to dedicate this particular fundraising effort toward helping Kurt and his family defray a modest amount of his continuing medical-related expenses.

“We hadn’t really decided what we’d do if we made money off them, and then my mom gave us the idea that we could give it to Donovan because Donovan’s had a big impact on my life and on a lot of people’s lives here at Nokomis,” Cooper Flagg said. “We decided that would be a very good idea.

“He’s been like a role model to us, somebody we’ve looked up to.”

Originally 100 T-shirts were made, then as they sold quickly around the school and community another 35 were ordered.

“Everyone’s so busy at this time of year so we thought we’ll do a hundred and see how it goes,” Brown said. “They sold extremely fast. When people saw them everybody wanted one.”

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...