Black Bears Take Texas | TALES FROM THE TOURNEY
Follow along as NEWS CENTER Maine's Jessica Gagne joins the University of Maine women's basketball team on its journey through the NCAA tournament.
Author: Jessica Gagne
Published: 6:19 PM EDT March 15, 2018
Updated: 1:48 AM EDT March 18, 2018
BLACK-BEARS 3 Articles

Black Bears Take Texas | TALES FROM THE TOURNEY

Chapter 1

DAY 3 - Game Day

9:10 PM EST

It didn't end the way the team wanted, but hopefully it's the start of another Black Bear run.

Maine lost to Texas 83-54 in round one of the NCAA DI Tournament. Texas came out strong and led the whole way. Though the scoreboard didn't look like they hoped at the end of it, the Black Bears gained as much as they lost.

This was the first time to the tournament for all players on the team, and every team member touched the floor. Calais' Maddy McVicar scored fove points in four minutes in the final quarter. To know what it feels like to play in a nationally televised tournament game is an invaluable experience, and one head coach Amy Vachon hopes will be motivating.

Of course the Black Bears were upset over the loss, who wouldn't be? But what I won't forget about this season is Van Buren's Parise Rossignol putting on a smile at the podium after the game and saying this: "I come from a school where I graduated with 24 other kids, so to be on this stage where my entire town can watch me on TV, it's pretty surreal. It's just amazing."

I hope young girls in Maine will read that and know they can achieve big things, no matter how small their hometowns are.

Black Bears, you have a young team and a lot to be proud of. I'm sure we'll see even bigger things from you next season.

Chapter 2

DAY 2 - Bonding before the big game

8:31 PM EST

I am sunburned. I came from Maine to Texas without sunblock so it's my own fault, but regardless, I was happy to spend the day enjoying the sun and 80 degree weather. The Black Bears fit a tour of the city into their busy Friday schedule, and I was able to tag along.

The tour was about much more than sightseeing. These women are close, and little adventures like a walk around Austin bring them closer. Whether it's trying on cowboy hats or trying to keep up with each other on the busy streets, spending time together builds trust and communication. Those qualities can be seen on the court whenever the UMaine team steps on.

Tomorrow is the big day! I won't see the team until after the game, but hopefully they will be wearing smiles... and be willing to share their sunscreen :)

Chapter 3

DAY 1 - From Orono to Austin

4:12 PM EST

I’m spending the afternoon and evening crossing a few more items off my list of “Things I Hope to Accomplish." I can now say that I’ve successfully done an on-camera interview at 35,000 feet above ground. I waited for the drink cart to go by, then kneeled in the aisle and talked to the UMaine basketball players row by row. They were so nice about it, considering everyone’s favorite things to do on a plane are put on headphones and nap. But that’s one of the things that makes this Maine team special: they’re friendly and welcoming, and most of all, they like to have fun.

Here’s a video I took in the airport in Bangor of a “mashup” that the team has perfected. They weren’t shy about letting me film it, and sang it loud enough for the whole gate to hear:

The laughs continued on the flight. The plane we took was a 747 and there was plenty of space to spread out, but many of the players chose to occupy all three seats in the row so they could hang out together. A few people nodded off, but most were talking about what they plan to do when they arrive. Getting some good Tex-Mex is the priority, checking our cowboy boots a close second.

I don’t get a sense of nervousness from this team, even though they are getting ready to play in the biggest game of their lives. Maine has only made it past round one of the tournament once, back in 1999 when now head coach Amy Vachon was playing. The No. 15 Black Bears know they’re underdogs against the No. 2 Texans this Saturday, but they’re approaching the game like they’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. That, coupled with their love for each other and for fun, makes for a very dangerous foe, and one that Texas Longhorns should not underestimate.