A look back at the second half sports stories for St. John Valley in 2020
Editor’s Note: The following is the second of two articles highlighting some of 2020’s most important and interesting sports stories. This article highlights events from July through December.
Wisdom Middle/High School named Peter Clavette as the new girls varsity soccer head coach. Clavette replaced outgoing coach Kevin Lavoie. Clavette, originally from the St. John Valley, was a 1992 graduate of Madawaska High School and earned a BA in English and history at University of Maine at Fort Kent where he played for the Bengal men’s varsity basketball team. He has 10 years of experience coaching soccer, most recently with the Soccer Edmundston U15 AA Girls team, composed of girls from Frenchville, St. Agatha, Fort Kent and Madawaska. Last year, the team went undefeated in the UNB Soccer Challenge.
The 30th annual Tour de la Vallee fundraiser took place this year but with a new format. To prevent the possible spread of COVID-19 among participants, the event, which raises money for the Edgar J. Paradis Cancer Fund, was held online as a “Virtual Tour.”
Long-time basketball coach and Maine Basketball Hall of Fame 2016 inductee Matt Rossignol accepted a position at SAD 24 in Van Buren as the athletic director. Rossignol accepted a teaching job at the school over the summer. During that time, the athletic director position opened up. Rossignol said he felt the “time was right” to accept the position.
Sean Cabaniss of Pittsfield reeled in a 46-inch fish weighing 22.31 pounds to win the 2020 Fort Kent International Muskie Derby. His parents Debbie Cabaniss and Chuck Cabaniss had won the derby in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
A Fort Kent educator completed 20 successful swims across Eagle Lake over the summer. Robert Daigle, a French teacher at Fort Kent Community High School and Valley Rivers Middle School, was named 2019 Maine Foreign Language Teacher of the Year.
St. John Valley community members participated in a “Let Them Play” walk event in Fort Kent to show their support for interscholastic sports. The walk was in response to concerns that fall school sports would not take place due to COVID-19.
A new trail for walkers, runners and bicyclists was formed in the downtown Fort Kent area. The pathway of the unnamed trail begins at the northeast corner of the paved trail at Riverside Park, then extends to East Main Street next to Walgreens and across the street from the Fort Kent Historical Society.
A regional fall sports program was approved for all St. John Valley schools with Valley teams only taking on other teams in Aroostook County. The boards of directors for SAD 27, SAD 33, SAD 24 and Madawaska School Department all agreed to the Maine Principal Association guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Fort Kent rec soccer got underway for kids from Pre-K to sixth grade. The annual program saw nearly 200 registered children during the fall of 2020.
The Fort Kent Outdoor Center held a “Cancer Can Take a Hike!” fundraiser to raise money for the Edgar J. Paradis Cancer Fund. The Edgar J. Paradis Cancer Fund provides financial assistance to help family members and loved ones accompany St. John Valley cancer patients who must travel outside the area to receive treatment.
Former University of Maine at Fort Kent athletic director and award-winning Coach Bill Ashby was among four named to the UMFK Athletics Hall of Fame, Class of 2020. Also recognized were Jennifer Colpitts, Jimmy Lopez, and Jarryd Phillips for their contributions to UMFK Bengals Athletics.
Madawaska High School won the 2020 Aroostook League County Championship in Mars Hill, due to impressive performances from each of the six-member team.
Individual Madawaska results were: Cameron Desrosier, 88; Ian Beaulieu, 90; Carson Cyr, 96; Justin Pelletier, 96; Sam Dufresne, 100; and Robbie Lausier, 102.
The top-ranked Wisdom Pioneers girls varsity soccer team shut out No. 4 Washburn, 4-0, to earn a spot in the Division 2 Aroostook County Championship. SAD 33 athletic director Scott Pelletier said one reason the Pioneer girls played so well this season was due to a new head coach, Peter Clavette, who said his goal going into the season was for the girls to make it to the championship game.
The Madawaska Owls boys soccer team earned a spot in the Aroostook League championship game. The Owls ended their season with a 8-2 record and earned the Aroostook League Division I boys soccer runner-up plaque.
After 28 years as the premier sled dog racing event in New England, the 2021 Can-Am Crown International Sled Dog Races were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Race organizers were already planning for a 2022 event.
Organizers of the third annual Acadian Pond Hockey Classic decided to cancel the outdoor tournament, which was scheduled to take place March 2021 on Long Lake in St. Agatha, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fundraiser had been increasing in popularity, and saw nearly twice as many registrations last year compared to the first year. Proceeds from the tournament benefit local hockey programs in the greater St. John Valley area, including in Canada.
Madawaska High School’s ski coach Colin Jandreau was selected by the Maine Principals Association to receive the 2019-2020 boys Nordic Coach of the Year award.
Jandreau has coached the varsity Nordic ski team for more than 10 years.
The Van Buren boys soccer team beat Easton to win the Aroostook League Division II boys championship game. Van Buren coach Steve Lapierre said it felt great to win a championship — he said it couldn’t have happened without his team’s strong performance.
The Wisdom girls soccer team captured the Aroostook League Division II championship. The Pioneers ended their season with a 9-1 record and only seven goals scored against them for the entire season.
An Aroostook League Division I girls soccer champion was never determined this year after COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the title game. Top-ranked Fort Kent Community High School was slated to play Caribou in the championship in Fort Kent.
The Maine Soccer Coaches organization named Fort Kent Community High School senior Gabrielle “Gabby” Martin as Class C Player of the Year for the 2020 season. Martin racked up an impressive list of achievements on the field as a Fort Kent Community High School Warrior, including having registered 50 goals and 18 assists. She earned All Aroostook recognition all four years of high school, was named All State for three of those years, and All New England her senior year.
Fort Kent Community High School girls soccer coach Doug Cyr and Van Buren High School boys soccer coach Steve Lapierre received 2020 Coach of the Year nominations from the Maine Soccer Coaches organization. The coaches earned the recognition by overseeing standout teams throughout the season.
Skiers hit the slopes at Lonesome Pine Trails in Fort Kent to enjoy some outdoor fun. The popular resort is following state guidelines including face mask and social distancing requirements for all skiers to reduce the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus.