Two-sport athlete helps pair of Ashland teams – on the same day

5 years ago

ASHLAND, Maine — Willow Hall has had a busy winter juggling two sports, but Monday was a particularly hectic day for the Ashland sophomore.

Hall played the first half of the Class D North basketball quarterfinal against Deer Isle-Stonington before changing into her ski outfit in the locker room and bolting Bangor for Farmington, where the Class C Nordic ski meet was taking place at Titcomb Mountain.

It was reminiscent of what two-sport superstar Deion Sanders pulled off on Oct. 11, 1992, when he played an NFL game for the Atlanta Falcons on a Sunday afternoon in Atlanta and then flew to Pittsburgh to compete in a major league baseball playoff game that evening with the Atlanta Braves.

Hall chose skiing as her only sport as a freshman, but decided to give both basketball and skiing a try this year.

“She has not missed a basketball game and rarely has she missed a full practice all season. It’s a testament to Willow, and her desire and work ethic, to succeed at both sports,” said her basketball coach, Ben Lothrop.

Ashland’s Willow Hall competes in a Nordic ski meet last winter. (Courtesy of Don Eno)

“Monday was tricky and we all knew it going in,” he added. “The 11 a.m. game was the only time slot where it was going to be an issue, and sure enough, that’s where we ended up.”

Hall and her father, Ashland school principal Joel Hall, met the team at the Cross Insurance Center for the basketball game. Hall, a reserve forward, had several rebounds and a blocked shot in the first half. Then it was time to depart for her other sport.

“The girls gave her a big cheer as she left the locker room,” Lothrop said. “Obviously we would have liked to have her the whole game, but we’re very supportive of what she is trying to do and in a small school, we all work together for what’s best for kids.”

Deer Isle-Stonington went on to defeat Ashland in the basketball game, 57-28.

Hall made it in time for the 2:30 p.m. start of the classical-style five-kilometer ski race and finished in 22 minutes, 45.1 seconds, which was good for fifth place out of 36 competitors.

Hall also competed in the freestyle race Tuesday morning and finished fourth. The Hornet ski team ended up capturing the Nordic state championship in Class C.

“On our bus ride home after the game, the girls were all asking about how Willow had done,” Lothrop said. “They all care about each other.”