UMaine basketball seniors share emotional West Coast farewell

The recently graduated seniors on the University of Maine women’s basketball team left Black Bear fans with a lot of wonderful memories — and made many for themselves.

This group of eight women helped breathe new life into a program that had languished for several years prior to their arrival in the summer of 2012.

Most members of UMaine’s Class of 2016 recently celebrated their friendship together one last time. After graduating, the group headed for the West Coast, where they gathered for several days of fun in the sun with junior teammate Kirsten Johnson and her family in San Diego.

Liz Wood, Sophie Weckstrom, Mikaela Gustafsson, Lauren Bodine, Anna Heise and transfer Bella Swan made the trip, as did redshirt freshman Maddy McVicar of Calais. They also met up with junior Californian Sheraton Jones.

Chantel Charles and Milica Mitrovic weren’t able to attend.

In California, the women hung out together, went sightseeing, went snorkeling and surfing at the beach and did a hike.

“One of my favorites: Bonfire at the beach, reminiscing about old times, listening to music and making s’mores,” Heise said of her experience.

Some voiced their appreciation for the Johnson’s hospitality with thank yous on their respective Twitter feeds.

It is difficult to imagine the depth of the bonds of friendship these women developed in their journey together. All of those grueling practices, plane trips and tiring bus trips — the crash. The joyous victories and the agonizing defeats.

Understandably, there were many tearful goodbyes.

The contingent did not enjoy immediate success. They worked to develop their individual skills and their team chemistry.

Coach Richard Barron helped mold them into a cohesive unit, one whose affection for each other was obvious in their interactions on and off the basketball court.

It’s amazing to think about how far the Class of 2016 came. They arrived in Orono from five foreign countries and three U.S. states.

Yet in the end, all the differences in language, culture and personalities combined to produce not only success but lifelong relationships.

Now they are Black Bear sisters who, in spite of their geographic distance from each other, are stronger and better able to confidently pursue the next chapter of their respective lives.

Pete Warner

About Pete Warner

Pete is a Bangor native who graduated from Bangor High School, Class of 1980. He earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He has been a full-time member of the Bangor Daily News Sports staff since 1984. Pete lives in Bangor with his wife of 32 years, Annia. They have two adult sons, Will and Paul. Pete is fluent in Spanish and enjoys visiting his in-laws and friends in Costa Rica. His hobbies including hunting, fishing and listening to jazz.