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We’ve known for a while that the Maine Community College System and its students are capable of impressive things, but we’ll admit not knowing it was such a basketball powerhouse. Not until now, that is.
Two Maine schools, Central Maine Community College (CMCC) and Southern Maine Community College (SMCC), are now home to national champion basketball teams. The CMCC women’s team and SMCC men’s team both took home U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association Division II championships last Thursday.
It is the third time in five years that the CMCC women are national champions. As reported by the Lewiston Sun Journal, the team from Auburn featured 16 new players and worked to overcome some challenges early in the season.
“It’s been really fun and interesting because we’re all so young,” freshman Emily Strachan told the Sun Journal. “I expected to go all the way, and I think all of us did, but I think some other teams didn’t. We had some challenges along the way. Some issues with the team, right in the beginning we had some stupid girl stuff, but we got through it all and we pulled it out.”
Well, there’s nothing stupid about a national title.
“It feels really, really good to be home,” CMCC head coach Andrew Morong told the Sun Journal. “This title is very special because it came with a lot of adversity. There were a lot of peaks and valleys along the way, and there was a lot of stress, a lot of triumph, and this one was special. It was special because it was earned, down to the itty-bitty details.”
While national championships seem to be something of a habit for the CMCC women, the SMCC men’s victory is the first team championship in SMCC’s 76-year history as a school (the South Portland College previously had several other names, including Southern Maine Technical College).
“I give all the credit to our players, who have been unselfish and bought into our team concept all year,” Matt Richards, SMCC coach and athletic director, told TV station WGME. “This is a great honor for Southern Maine Community College to bring home a championship to the state of Maine.”
School president Joe Cassidy highlighted the historic nature of the moment for the entire school.
“We are so proud of all of our student-athletes and their success on the court and in the classroom,” Cassidy said.
All of Maine should be proud of these recent successes from two Maine community colleges. With so much upheaval and uncertainty around the world right now, fun news like this could get lost in the shuffle. It’s March and it seems there’s madness all across the globe. A cynical person might even dismiss basketball as inconsequential compared to, say, the worrisome risk of nuclear war.
But what better time to hold up and hold on to the moments of hope and inspiration? It certainly is not the fault of these impressive student athletes that the world is terrible while they are doing great things. They should enjoy their accomplishments, and so should the rest of Maine.