Originating in 1990, Maine’s Lobster Bowl is an All-Star football summer event created to raise money for the 22 Shrine Hospitals for children across the US, Canada, and Mexico. Recent graduates from all high schools around Maine are selected and nominated by their high school coaches and have to raise $500 to attend. This summer, the week-long event was hosted by Foxcroft Academy, as students from across the state gathered in Dover-Foxcroft and stayed in the FA dorms to practice for the game.
The two nominated football players from Foxcroft Academy were Hyatt Smith and Eli Bickford. On the field, Smith played wide receiver, while Bickford was positioned as an offensive tackle. Both were joined by over 150 other players at FA to practice throughout the week. The students were split into two teams, East and West. Smith and Bickford were on the East team, led by head coach Dan O’Connell from John Bapst, and assistant coaches BL Lippert, Greg Nadeau, Dan White, Max Andrews, Fred Lower, Kyle Gallant, Andy Shorey, Tom Bertrand, and Alex Bertrand.
Throughout the week, players were required to attend three practices each day, one at 8 am, one at 2 pm, and a night practice at 7 pm. The players separated to practice in their respective teams, the West practicing on the field behind the dorms, and the East practicing on a separate field behind the school.
When they weren’t practicing, the boys were eating meals at the FA cafeteria, hanging out at the dorms, or doing some of the scheduled activities put on by the Lobster Bowl. Some of the bonding activities included going bowling in Bangor and a trip to the beach. Media Day was on Tuesday, where news and radio channels gathered in the FA gym to speak to all the players. On Friday, a formal banquet was held for all the players and their families before their game the next day.
Both Smith and Bickford enjoyed their week practicing for the Lobster Bowl; though, unfortunately, Bickford battled with a knee injury. Despite the injury, he still kept high spirits and attended every practice. “We’re practicing really hard,” said Bickford of his team, “everyone is bonding and making friendships.”
However, Smith and Bickford were not the only graduates nominated from FA to participate on a Lobster Bowl team. Former FA cheerleaders McKenzie McLeod and Lauren Cooper were selected by their coach to join the cheerleading program for the Lobster Bowl on the East. While the football players were practicing at FA, cheerleaders from all over Maine gathered at Thomas College in Waterville to practice for the game on Saturday. There they would perform at halftime as well as cheer for their teams.
The cheer team for the Lobster bowl was led by head coach Cindy Witham, who coaches at Skowhegan High School and the University of Southern Maine. Also coaching was Annie Dobos, a cheer coach at Messalonskee and the University of Maine at Farmington. Other coaches included Megan Witham, Sam Tanguay, Lindsay Morton, and Steven Holt, who organized the choreography.
Unlike in football, both cheer teams worked and practiced together throughout the week, since their halftime performance was a group performance. Though, they still did split into East and West to cheer on their teams for the game.
FA’s Lauren Cooper revealed that over the week she met and practiced with many people whom she’d often see at competitions. “It’s nice because you get to cheer with people you’ve never cheered with before,” said Cooper. She explained that everyone at the event was on the same skill level, so she could do things she had never done in high school. “They’re used to compete against each other, and now they are working together,” said head coach Witham.
Outside of the FA football players and cheerleaders, there were many other people from the FA community involved, including students Meghan Spooner and Karis Dankert. Both students showed up at each practice to help fill waters and make sure the players stayed hydrated. Spooner imparted how she was shadowing the athletic trainers at the event. She hopes to be an athletic trainer in her future, and maybe even one day work the event as one herself. Assisting the athletic trainers was FA’s Athletic Trainer, Jaclyn Tourtelotte.
Also participating in Lobster Bowl week was FA’s Chief of Communications, Toby Nelson, who worked as a media coordinator tasked with taking pictures and sharing them each day. New to FA, Director of Residential Life Office Nancy Seavey, aided in organizing dorm room assignments, and more. Director of Food Services, Rhonda Tyler, and the kitchen staff also worked tirelessly throughout the week to make sure the players had a hot meal when they got out of practice.
Overall, thanks to the help of these people, the week went smoothly, and the players had a blast. The West ended up taking the win on Saturday after a well-fought game by both sides. “Despite the loss, the kids worked extremely hard,” said assistant coach Shorey of the East. “There was a tough injury halfway through the game, and the kids could have given up there, but they didn’t. They stayed with it for the full 48 minutes.”
For more pictures of the event, visit our Flickr page.