Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, July 13, 2017
1987 Girls State Champions—Where are they now?
Front row: Suzanne (Torrey) Lord; Susan (Siebert) Pellicano; Lisa(Gray) Zanke; Sharon Siebert; and Sheila (Hutchinson) Ouelette. Back row: Kendall McGuffie; Melissa Jones-Bayley, Stacie Robbins; Didi (Dunham) Holt.
by Jack Scott
What’s it like to win a state championship? When I asked members of the 1987 girls basketball team 30 years after the event, the answers were, “amazing,” “awesome,” “a dream come true,” “best experience of my life,” “validation of all the hard work,” and “such a great feeling to be supported by the community.” The bus ride around the Island in the middle of the night with a long line of cars and people waving from their driveways. Watching the wave by the fans in the stands.
Thirty years after the game, most of that team recently got together to commemorate and reminisce about the season that brought the first Gold Ball to the high school in the modern era. Coached by Kendall McGuffie, the team featured five seniors who started and had played together from ninth grade. Several of the younger players mentioned how they were in awe of these girls, whom they called the “Fab Five.” It was their leadership that helped shape the team and motivate the younger players. There was a JV team as well, which not only developed younger players but allowed for more challenges at the varsity practices.
Two of the players on this team became the only female graduates that I know of to play in college basketball. Sharon Siebert played four years at Husson College and not only still holds the female scoring record but also had her jersey retired because of her stellar play. Jennifer (Shepard) Mayo also played two years at University of Maine at Machias after high school, saying she regrets not playing all four years.
But a championship team is much more than superstars. Everyone needs to contribute to be that successful. Several of the players remarked how great they felt to put in the foul shots at the end of the championship game that iced the victory. I also heard several reminders of the old cliché “There is no I in team.” Coach McGuffie preached that the team is as good as the weakest player. It may sound counterintuitive, but it means everyone supports each other, good or bad.
The camaraderie and chemistry they shared 30 years ago that made them such a cohesive group was evident as they sat around joking about some of the hard practices and humorous moments that happened that year. To protect their reputations, I can’t repeat those stories, but it was fun to listen to them reminisce.
As far as advice to current players, they mentioned hard work of conditioning, fundamentals, dedication and commitment, listen to your coach, work together as a team, another cliché of “you play like you practice”, but above all the hard work, have fun doing it. You can’t coach that chemistry to work hard together and have fun. It comes from commitment and mutual respect.
On a personal note, my father, Harry Scott, did the sports reporting in the early to mid-1980s and he promoted and supported girls sports, but especially this team as they went through high school seasons. It was truly unfortunate that he didn’t live long enough to see their victory, though Coach McGuffie said he had predicted it a year earlier. The state championship game was on March 5, 1987. March 5 was his birthday. You don’t suppose…
Where are they now?
Suzanne (Torrey) Lord lives in Blue Hill, married with four teenagers, working at various nursing jobs.
Susan (Siebert) Pellicano lives in Deer Isle, married with a stepson, working at Billings Diesel.
Lisa (Gray) Zanke lives in Stonington, married with a daughter who currently plays basketball, working as a bookkeeper.
Sharon Siebert lives in Holden, with her partner and son, owner of a pet boarding kennel and daycare business.
Sheila (Hutchinson) Ouellette lives in Fort Kent, married with two children, working as a branch manager at Acadia Federal Credit Union.
Paula Goodhue (not in 2017 picture), lives in Oakland, and is teaching physical education in Gardner Middle School. She has taught PE for 30 years, loved her year at DIS High School, and did a lot of coaching after that.
Kendall McGuffie, lives in Deer Isle, is retired from teaching, and is enjoying golf and grandkids.
Stacey (Ciomei) Beal (not in 2017 picture) lives in Old Town, works at St. Joseph hospital and is married with five kids. Three are biological and two are step-kids.
Jessie (Hardy) Skehan (not in 2017 picture) lives in Casco, is a teacher and is married with five kids. Three are biological and two are step-kids.
Melissa Jones-Bayley, lives in Stonington, married with two children, and owns her own business of massage therapy.
Heather (Jenson) Lee (not in 2017 picture), lives in Dallas, Texas, married with two sons, working as an elementary school math teacher.
Jennifer (Shepard) Mayo (not in 2017 picture), lives in Oakland, married with three kids, working as a teacher in high school.
Stacie Robbins lives in Deer Isle, with a daughter, and teaches at Blue Hill Consolidated School.
Didi (Dunham) Holt lives in Portland, married with a daughter, and teaches in high school.
Holly Billings (not in 2017 picture) lives in the Ellsworth area.