A look back to 2017. From Fort Kent to Gorham

Published: Nov. 26, 2021 at 9:57 AM EST
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - Here is a story that I ran in 2017. I thought it was a great time to go back in the archives and play it again.

The Exhibition basketball season begins on Black Friday in Presque Isle and Caribou. This is the time of year that coaches use these preseason events to see what they need to work on and also to give players a chance to bond. Gorham has made the long bus ride to the County several times over the last few years. Back in 2017 I found out about the County connection between Gorham and the St John Valley. Fort Kent native Laughn Berthiaume is the head coach and Nellie Joler Nelson and Aaron Ouellet are the assistant coaches. All are Fort Kent graduates. All three were excited to showcase the County to their players and to take them on a true road trip.

(Laughn Berthiaume):”Half an hour is a long trip. Most of our trips are about 15 minutes so we are really spoiled now. Our trip up here was 5 hours. It is a great bonding experience. Our girls are looking forward to staying in a hotel for a couple of nights and see what the County has to offer.”

(Aaron Ouellet):”The girls are psyched. When we left, they were yelling road trip and they were excited. This is the biggest trip we are going to have this year.”

(Neile Nelson):” We talk about Fort Kent a lot. The girls are excited to meet our families and see where we grew up.”

Berthiaume has been the head coach for 11 years and Ouellet has been his assistant during all 11 seasons. Nelson came on board five years ago .

Nelson:” I was out of the game for a while raising my kids. I came back about 5 years ago and Laughn and Aaron are wonderful. It’s like I have been with these guys my whole life. Sometimes we finish each other’s sentence.”

Here is one of the most ironic things all three are math teachers in Gorham. Berthiaume and Nelson are older than Ouelett, but they all have bonded over their hometown

Ouellet: “These are the people I grew up watching. I was the little kid on the back side of the bleachers watching them play and now i am in this role with them.”

The three coaches spend a lot of time together both in season and out of season. They enjoy having the County Connection to each other. There are other County ties to the Gorham program, Lenny Holmes a Presque Isle High School Graduate and Madawaska and UMPI graduate Pierre Michaud both have daughters on the team. Gorham will play in Caribou on Saturday morning and then go to Fort Kent for an afternoon game against the Lady Warriors. It will be quite a feeling for the coaches to walk into the gym that they all spent so much time in.

Berthiaume:”It’s going to be pretty special. Going to see a lot of friends and family. Just like the old days I am going to have James Harvey keep the book for me. It is going to be pretty special for me.”

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