Dagny Leland and Terry Barnes leaned up against the brick wall at Lake Region High School and talked for about 15 minutes. To most people, it probably seemed like a typical conversation between two coaches following a close game.

The schools had just played to a 1-1 tie and players were getting ready to go home.

But the conversation had almost nothing to do with field hockey.

“We were just talking about how our kids were doing,” said Barnes, the coach at Sacopee Valley in South Hiram. “We were catching up with all the little things in our personal lives. It was all giggly and tee-hees back and forth.”

You see, Barnes and Leland, the coach at Lake Region, are personally connected. So are Fryeburg Academy’s Dede Frost and Massabesic’s Michelle Martin-Moore. At one time, they all played on the same field hockey team at the University of Maine at Farmington.

From 1982-86, they were all part of a program that was building under Stella McLean to become one of the state’s best. Not every one of them played for all four years, but they were all together for at least one year.

And now, here they are, all coaching high school varsity field hockey within about an hour of each other.

“It’s crazy, it truly is,” said Barnes. “Just bizarre.”

But maybe it isn’t. Talk to anyone involved in field hockey, and you will hear stories about how the sport creates bonds that last forever. For these four, that’s certainly true.

“We all have a lot in common,” said Leland. “It’s kind of cool. I don’t get to see a lot of college people I knew. This is a way to keep in touch, to see how they’ve grown and changed. It’s amazing how we’ve all come through it.”

Several other UMF teammates have gone on to coaching as well. Missy Forbes, for example, is in her 14th year at Mountain Valley. Lisa Shane and Pauline Webb coach sub-varsity levels at Lake Region.

“Some of us were in coaching classes together,” said Frost. “It’s a pretty unique situation.”

Leland and Frost see each other most often. Lake Region and Fryeburg are both in Western Class B and play twice a year.

Until this year, when Class C Sacopee Valley played both Fryeburg and Lake Region, Barnes hadn’t gone up against her former college teammates.

Martin-Moore coaches at a Western Class A school, so the only time she sees her former teammates is at preseason Play Days, when schools from different classes gather for games.

“It’s nice to run into them at Play Days,” said Martin-Moore. “But we watch each other’s teams all the time.”

For example, when Barnes’ Hawks upended top-ranked NYA earlier this month, Frost texted her congratulations. “Of course, her being in a different class makes it easier,” said Frost.

This year, all four teams are playing well. Massabesic is in the top four in Western A; Fryeburg is No. 1 in Western B, while Lake Region is eighth (having lost two close games to Fryeburg); Sacopee Valley is ranked second in Western C.

Martin-Moore doesn’t find that surprising.

“We all have the passion for the sport,” she said.

Frost was a captain on three of those UMF teams. She is a member of the 1985 team that went 9-5-1 and was inducted into the UMF Athletic Hall of Fame.

She began coaching immediately after graduating and has been the head coach at Fryeburg for 18 years. .

“I guess it is amazing that we have stayed in rural areas,” she said.

“None of us have gone on to a big city. Then again, nor was Farmington a big city.”

Maybe not. But being on the same team gave the coaches an appreciation of what goes into building a good team.

When they get together, said Martin-Moore, they don’t necessarily talk about the games they played together — which must have been something to watch, with Barnes’ voice booming over all others from the defensive end — but about other aspects of being a teammate.

“We’ll talk about the long bus rides,” said Martin-Moore. “That’s what I think about, the camaraderie. When I think about my own kids (at Massabesic), I don’t wonder if they will remember individual games. Rarely will that happen.

“Most times it’s the team bonding things, the bus rides, the silly things that you do. My own experiences are why I have the perspective that I do.”

 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

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Twitter: MikeLowePPH