Caribou girls ready to overcome challenges

3 years ago

CARIBOU, Maine — Caribou Viking girls varsity basketball Coach Kayla Richards Brown is preparing to move this year’s team into a season with obstacles never before faced, as the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the start date ahead and shortened the overall season.

This season marks her fourth year coaching varsity basketball at the school, and she said that while the pandemic has posed challenges, they were fortunately able to put a team together this year. However one player is not currently playing and waiting to reassess the COVID situation next week.

The girls finished 6-12 last season and lost in a tough preliminary game against Winslow, 56-35.

The team will have 12 games this season, with the first game on Monday, Jan. 18 against Southern Aroostook and their last game of the season on Saturday, Feb. 22 against Presque Isle.

Their opponents this season include Southern Aroostook, Presque Isle, Houlton, Central Aroostook, Madawaska, and Fort Kent.

Brown said Presque and Houlton always bring strong teams, and this year Caribou will also play Southern Aroostook and Central Aroostook, which have solid programs.

This year’s roster includes seniors Emily Collins, Sage Dubay, and Paige Hale;  juniors Mia Theriault and Gabrielle Sutherland; sophomores Ashlyn Bouchard, Saffayia Durepo, Selena Savage and Nevaeh Trombley; and freshmen Emma Butler, Emily Clayton, Libby Collier and Jillian Zeigler.

“This season presents challenges we haven’t had to experience before,” she said. “I think there is an important lesson in not taking our opportunities for granted, and hopefully we will be able to learn and grow from this season in ways that reach beyond the court.”

Brown said this year’s team shows a great deal of potential.

“I hope that the girls get a chance to play and I know they will show great improvements because of their ability to be coached,” the coach said.

This year’s potential starters are Collins, Savage, Bouchard, Dubay and Sutherland.

Brown said Collins is returning as a four-year varsity player, adding that she is a versatile player who shows improvement each year, and that she will be stepping into a leadership role this year. 

Savage will return as the starting point guard, and Brown said she handles the ball with composure and knows the game well. 

Bouchard will be returning after a late start last year due to recovery from knee surgery. The coach said she was able to quickly step in and contribute after recovery, adding that she is an excellent shooter. 

Dubay will return as a senior player after taking last year off to ski. Brown said she shows great determination and a strong competitive side. 

Sutherland will be returning as a junior guard, who coach says is an aggressive player with the ability to score. 

Brown said Mia Theriault will be returning as a junior guard and Neveah Trombley will return as a sophomore center.

The team lost six seniors to graduation last year, four of which were starters. 

“Paige Espling led the team in scoring and rebounding,” Brown said. “Taylor Skidgel and Kim Susi were starting guards who could handle the ball and shoot, and Taylor LaBreck was another strong post player. Abbi Robbins offered more size, while Renee Stubbs offered great speed.”

Despite the challenges, Brown said the team is happy to be able to play

“I think everyone is feeling the strains of the current pandemic,” said Brown, “not just because of sports but because of the inability to resume normal activities. It means a lot to the girls to be able to get on the court and be around their peers while participating in something they enjoy. Even if it looks different this year, I think everyone is grateful for the opportunity to play.”