Opening day at Waterville’s Wrigley Field replica

Members of the Bole’s Cal Ripken baseball team take the field at the special opening ceremony on April 29.
Photo by Kevin Giguere, Central Maine Photography staff

by Mark Huard
Central Maine Photography

On April 29 Purnell Wrigley Field, in Waterville, joined the Harold Alfond Fenway Park, in Oakland, as the only two licensed replica turfed fields in the country.

CEO Ken Walsh, of the Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCA at the Alfond Youth Center said, “These fields give kids the opportunity to feel like real Major League players! The turf not only gives everyone the chance to play but extends the baseball season here in Maine, giving kids more time to develop their skills and learn sportsmanship while playing the game they love. The Purnell Wrigley Field is truly a grass roots community project built on the support of many and varied contributors of monetary and in-kind gifts. It’s a wonderful project honoring the legacy of some terrific ‘home town’ heroes.”

Fran Purnell and his volunteers of 48 years were recognized along with the many sponsors who helped contribute to building the field. Over 100 youth Cal Ripken baseball players and coaches attended this special celebration to kick off the 2017 baseball season. The Challenger team players developed by Fran Purnell in 1990 will also be celebrated. Former Cubs and Red Sox Major League Baseball player Lee Smith joined and threw out the first pitch and signed autographs for all of the kids and fans!

The new turf field has a 30-foot replica Wrigley scoreboard, new press box, concession stand and bathrooms. The dugouts have 24-foot murals of the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series along with a new lighting system. Thankfully, $600,000 of the $1.4 million project were in-kind gifts from the surrounding community. The project was in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCA at the Alfond Youth Center and the Waterville Park & Recreation Department.

A new book “Fields of Dreams” is now available describing the development of the replica MLB parks. All proceeds go to the field. Purchase through Amazon or AYC.

Former Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Lee Smith, left, signs an autograph for Keegan Dumais during opening ceremonies.
Photo by Tawni Lively, Central Maine Photography staff

Patriots linebacker greets local fans

Fin Minkel, 8, of Oakland, left, and Sean Achorn, 8, of Oakland, had the opportunity to meet with New England Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich on April 12

by Mark Huard

Hammond Lumber Company hosted an Employee and Contractor Appreciation event on April 12, featuring Rob Ninkovich, linebacker for the New England Patriots and two-time Super Bowl champion. Close to 3,000 Patriots’ fans waited patiently to have their picture taken with Rob and shake his hand. Some even had the privilege of trying on his Super Bowl championship ring. The event was a perfect opportunity for Maine fans to celebrate the Patriots’ LI Super Bowl victory and commemorate Ninkovich’s first trip to Maine.

Ninkovich with Hammond Lumber Co. founder Skip Hammond.

It was an especially memorable event for all the children in attendance. Their pride and excitement was apparent as they got to meet the 6-foot 2-inch linebacker in person. Ninkovich’s obliging personality and easy manner certainly made it a dream come true for many. Mark Huard from Central Maine Photography was on hand to capture each special moment.

Travis Brunette, right, 18, of Pittsfield, compares his 2016 Class D state championship ring, which he earned as a member of the Maine Central Institute Huskies football team, of Pittsfield, last fall, with Ninkovich’s Super Bowl ring.

“Rob Ninkovich is a true gentleman and exemplifies the high standard for excellence put forth by the Patriots’ organization. He was as kind and gracious to the last person in line as he was to the first fan who made it to the stage six hours later,” Mike Hammond, President of Hammond Lumber Company, shared. “The entire day exceeded my expectations and I was gratified to see the positive impact it had on our employees, contractors, vendors, neighbors, and friends,” he added.

All photos by Mark Huard, Central Maine Photography

Squaring off in Skowhegan

Winslow youth wrestler Owen Vigue, 6, left, gets ready to compete with Madison youth wrestler Lacie Madore, at a recent tournament in Skowhegan.

Winslow youth wrestler Owen Vigue, 6, left, gets ready to compete with Madison youth wrestler Lacie Madore, at a recent tournament in Skowhegan.

Photo by Kevin Giguere, Central Maine Photography staff

Winners at Battle of Maine

Huard’s Sport Karate team members, from left to right, Tyler Bard, of Fairfield, Tyler Martin, of Winslow, and Haeden Landry, of Vassalboro, all captured first place titles at the Battle of Maine Martial Arts Championships on March 25.

Huard’s Sport Karate team members, from left to right, Tyler Bard, of Fairfield, Tyler Martin, of Winslow, and Haeden Landry, of Vassalboro, all captured first place titles at  the Battle of Maine Martial Arts Championships on March 25.

Photo by Mark Huard

More karate winners at Battle of Maine

Huard’s Sports Karate team members Eli Ker, 9, left, of Waterville, and Logan Levesque, 8, of Clinton, captured first place titles, respectively, at the 37th annual Battle of Maine Martial Arts Championships on March 25, held at Thomas College, in Waterville.

Right photo, Huard’s Martial Arts student Jackson Hineman, 11, of Vassalboro, captured first place in forms at the Battle of Maine Martial Arts championships on March 25.

Photo by Kevin Giguere, Central Maine Photography staff

Wrestling action in central Maine


Skowhegan youth wrestling tournament action with Elijah Wilkinson, top, attempting to pin his opponent.

Pre-K wrestler Conner Nadeau gets the upper hand on his opponent.

Photos by Kevin Giguere, Central Maine Photography staff

St. Michael School undefeated conference champions

The St, Michael School boys basketball team, in Augusta, are the 2017 Sheepscot Valley Athletic Conference champions. High scorers for the team were Kaleb Stred, with a total of 317 points this season, averaging 15 points per game, Kyle Douin, 300 pts., 14 avg., Bryton Kieltyka, 99 pts., 6 avg., and Casey Gallant, 77 pts., 4 avg. The team went 22-0, completing the undefeated season. Coaches are Gary Hawkins, and member of the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame, and assisted by Denise Douin and Rob Flannery.

Contributed photo

Area competitors in recent karate showcase

Students from Huard’s Martial Arts collected funds for the Battle of Maine, to benefit Help Save Children’s Lives Project. Together, these young martial artists raised close to $5,000 to help support the Children’s Miracle Network.

Photo by Angela Poulin, Central Maine Photography staff

The 37th annual Huard’s Battle of Maine Martial Arts Championships were held on March 25 at Thomas College, in Waterville. Over 350 competitors from all over New England and Canada, and lots of specttors, enjoyed a full day of martial arts demonstrations, competition and friendship. The battle has raised over $75,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network and that total keeps rising each year. At left, Huard’s Sport Karate Demo team performances Mikey Stewart, left, of Fairfield, and Landon Nunn, of Skowhegan, show some Bo staff during the opening Battle of Maine Demo.

Photo by Tawni Lively, Central Maine Photography staff

Winslow boys capture basketball tourney crown

WINSLOW — The Winslow eighth grade boys travel basketball team won the 2017 Bob Messier Basketball Tournament held at the Old Town-Orono YMCA. This championship capped a successful season when the team went 15-4. They also captured third place at the 38th annual Boothbay Region YMCA Basketball Classic. Team members, front row, from left to right, Joseph Lopes,  Jameson Carey, Jake Berard, Marek Widerynski and Cameron Cobb. Back, Hunter Gagne, Robbie Clark, Holden Dart, Reid Gagnon, Jack Bilodeau and Colby Genest. Not pictured are coaches Chris Biolodau, Jay Carey and Mike Gagnon.   Contributed photo

Two China women set to tackle strongman challenge

Roland D. Halleeby Roland D. Hallee

Alysia Farrington training with Atlas Stones, one of the implements of the strongman competition. Contributed photo

CHINA — On April 8, two women from China will compete in the 10th annual Central Maine Strongman Competition to be held at GEvolution Gym, 9 a.m., at 16 Edison Dr., in Augusta.

Alysia Farrington, of China, mother of a 14-year-old daughter, has been a longtime member of GEvolution gym, in Augusta, where strongman training is one of the components of the gym.

Chele Fuller, is the mother of three boys, 10, 15 and 17 years old, and lives in South China.

Chele trains in what is called the “basement,” a term coined simply because they train with a fellow strongman leader in his . . . basement.

Gina LoMonaco, the owner of the gym, encouraged Alysia. As a former winner of Central Maine’s strongest woman competition, Gina influenced Alysia to take on the same challenge . However, a hip replacement surgery slowed down her plans. “I needed a hip replacement at the time, but I decided then and there I would return at some point to compete,” said Alysia. “My hip has been replaced and I am ready to go.”

A group of about 20 women, who also compete, are helped along by four coaches, meet three times a week for two hours, for 12 weeks. On Saturdays they train with the implements with which they will be competing, also for two hours.

The training is intense, involving commitment, heart, endurance and grit. They have a specific lifting schedule to build strength and stamina.

Alysia Farrington

Chele Fuller training with Atlas Stones, one of the implements of the strongman competition. Contributed photo

“The coaches give us our plans each week,” said Alysia, “and we train in small groups throughout the week. It’s exhausting but so rewarding to see your progress throughout the 12 weeks.”

“I look to the entire strongman community to support my training,” Chele said. She has been forever influenced by GEvolution co-founder Gina LoMonaco who has been with her from the start of her strength journey in August 2013.

“I sat in front of her as an obese woman who couldn’t even do one pushup on my knees,” Chele admitted. “Much has changed since then.”

This will be Alysia’s first strongman competition. “I have always been physically active.” She has done triathlons and biathlons, and has run the Boston Marathon. She has also done 500-mile treks across Iowa twice. In high school and college, she did competitive cheerleading.

She plans to train with her daughter this summer for more competitions.

Chele went to a strongman competition to support a friend, and was impressed. “I felt it was the first sport I observed where athletes were genuinely supporting each other,” Chele stressed. “I knew I wanted to compete in a strength sport, I just didn’t know which one.” It only took one time of watching the sport of Strongman and she was hooked. “The first time I almost signed up to compete right there and then.”

Good sense prevailed and she trained for eight weeks, and entered her first competition in the Central Maine Strongman 8, placing third in the novice class. In the past two years she has competed in a total of eight contests and has competed all over the country, including Oklahoma and Connecticut, culminating in competing in the Masters National Championship, held in Las Vegas, Nevada, in September 2016.

Chele continued, “Until I began strongman, the only physical activity was as a high school cheerleader.“

Chele says commitment and belief in yourself, combined with consistency of training and nutrition, have to be made to succeed.

Chele has dedicated herself to the sport. “I will forever continue to show my passion for the strongman sport in our community and beyond, as an athlete, coach and its biggest cheerleader.” Her goal is to someday expand into judging, scorekeeping and other behind-the-scenes functions.

The godmother to her children, Amy Farrell, engaged in strongman competition, but Chele never saw her compete until she became a competitor herself.

Alysia Farrington

Alysia Farrington, training in the Hercules Hold.

Strongman competitions vary in the choice of implements. For this competition they will be doing Conan’s Wheel of Pain, which consists of carrying a yoke and walking in a circle as weight is added. Starting weight is 270 pounds. The Hercules Hold is holding 120 pounds in each hand for time. The Powerstairs is carrying specific amount of weight upwards on five stairs for time. Atlas Stones are cement balls of 150 pounds that need to be lifted over a bar for time and then overhead medley which is four overhead stations, consisting of the log, axle, bar and keg, each with two repetitions for elapsed time.

According to their website, Willie Wessels, president of United States Strongman, Inc., states they use old school tradition with a new blood attitude. United States Strongman, Inc. is dedicated to the growth of strongman through the education and development of athletes and promoters. Their mission is to work with veteran promoters and provide high quality contests. They guide new promoters through their mentorship programs at the state and national levels. Their high quality contests and performance seminars help develop amateur strongman competitors by providing opportunity and instruction. They attract fans by hosting entertaining, well run events; these events offer affordable marketing opportunities with measurable return on investment for sponsors.