‘This is a tremendous growth opportunity​ ​for these​ ​you​ng​ ladies.’

Medomak Valley softball eager for ‘once in a lifetime’ trip to Florida

Posted:  Monday, January 22, 2018 - 12:15am

WALDOBORO — After several years of planning, the Medomak Valley varsity softball team will challenge themselves both on, and off, the diamond by spending a week playing at the Disney Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida for a series of exhibition contests.  

“This is a tremendous growth opportunity​ ​for these​ ​you​ng​ ladies​,” said Medomak Valley head coach Richard Vannah. “Attending spring training at Disney has been on our minds since the team’s last trip in 2008.” 

The Panthers will arrive in Florida Tuesday, April 10 with a return to the Midcoast slated for Tuesday, April 17. 

The most important reason for this trip is to “provide​ an opportunity for the players to bond, grow and enjoy a world class experience,” Vannah stated.

The Panthers head coach also noted the experience will be a “once in a lifetime” event, especially for the kids who “rarely leave the area, let alone spend a week away from home.” 

Vannah noted part of the reason the team is opting to go this season, as opposed to others, is due to the fact the Panthers returns its entire 15 member squad from its 2017 campaign. 

The team will end up missing four days of school as spring break does not occur until the week of Monday, April 16, but Vannah has already put together an academic game-plan with the team and school personnel. 

“We have asked our players to meet with their teachers in order to plan ahead while we are away,” Vannah said. “We will carve out time in the schedule for studying​ and​ school work.” ​ 

Although the exhibition game schedule will not be released by the organizer’s until March 5, the list of participating teams, and potential opponents, has been publicized. 

The Panthers could potentially face five Maine squads, one Rhode Island team and four Connecticut squads.

The Maine teams include Biddeford, Madison, Skowhegan, Thornton Academy and Windham. East Haven of Connecticut will split its varsity team into two squads, while Simbsury and St. Paul will also make the trip from Connecticut. Westerly is the lone Rhode Island team participating. 

Vannah noted the team looks forward to being challenged in an effort to prepare the squad for what could be a deep playoff run this season. In 2017, the Panthers advanced to the Class B regional quarterfinals where they fell 2-1 against rival Oceanside in eight innings when Oceanside’s Alex Mazurek hit a walk-off home run. 

To cover the costs of the trip — which was estimated at around $25,000 — the team has been fundraising since last summer. The team will host a final basketball tournament fundraiser hosted at Medomak Valley High School and Medomak Middle School for seventh and eighth graders March 23-24. 

If all goes well, the program would ideally like to repeat the experience in the next two or three years — if the stars can align once again. 

Reach George Harvey and the sports department at: sports@penbaypilot.com