Aroostook Snowdogs Return to State Basketball Tournament After Three-Year Absence

Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 8:00 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - The Aroostook Snowdogs are returning to the State of Maine Special Olympics state tournament after a three-year absence. The tournament, which will take place at the University of Southern Maine Costello Sports Complex, provides the team with an opportunity to showcase their hard work and skills while reflecting on their journey back to this event.

Spencer King, Snowdogs Coach: “This is exciting times. So, for me, i started coaching the team in 2019 and we had gotten ready for the tournament, get everything set up and as everyone knows, COVID came around and shut everything down so i have not been able to attend the tournament yet and the team has not been able to attend in the last three years. Everyone is kind of cooped up and has a bunch of energy and excitement and is ready to go”.

The basketball tournament includes skill assessments, unified basketball, and 5-on-5 games, with two teams from the Snowdogs competing in the latter. Coach Spencer King has set specific goals for his team as they prepare for the tournament.

Spencer King: " So the big thing for this tournament and things that we’ve obviously made our team aware of is, winning isn’t everything. While it’s nice to win, our goals are to play as a team, treat each other with respect whether its athletes amongst athletes or coaches or citizens or whoever it may be. Our goal is to again play as a team, treat others with respect, and have fun”.

From the first practice, to competing against the Presque Isle Wildcats varsity teams, it’s been great to be back on the court for the Snowdogs, and these athletes have been working on their skills over the years.

Spencer King: " During COVID, we came out with a really unique idea of Ben Rosser and myself, Ben’s our assistant coach of creating online training videos. So, we would record ourselves at the rec center here and submit those videos to a YouTube channel where the athletes were able to go on and practice these skills at home. We purchased them all a basketball and without a hoop. But a lot of them, once things started to open up a bit, did come to the rec center on their own skills. So, I think providing them with a platform, and with some videos over the last three years as really helped them get to the point where their at right now”.

The Snowdogs receive tremendous support from the community.

Spencer King: " The supports been incredible, we don’t get to do this without the community. Brian Hamel, who is the former coach of the snowdogs before i took over, has been an incredible asset for the snowdogs in fundraising in both locally and now where he’s located in Portland. The Outreach and support from everyone is incredible, we do not get to do this without them”.

Looking to the future, Coach King aims to reach out to schools and the community to get their numbers back to where they were before the pandemic. As part of the trip down to the Portland area, the team will enjoy attending a Maine Mariners hockey game on Friday.

Jonathon Eigenmann, Newssource sports.