Saturday, December 7, 2013
Marc Schaffer doesn't have regrets. If the father of Cheverus High School basketball star Indiana Faithfull had to relive February of 2010 knowing what he knows now, he would.
Crowds taunted Cheverus star Indiana Faithfull after a court allowed him to play despite being ruled ineligible.
John Ewing/2010 Press Herald file
"I wouldn't trade one minute of it," said Schaffer, who along with his wife went to court to keep his son playing. "With everything that Indi went through -- the experience of having something taken away and the fight to take it back -- we wouldn't have done anything differently."
On Monday, the Maine Principals' Association vacated the Maine and Western Maine championships that Cheverus won that winter, because Faithfull was an ineligible player.
A transfer student from Australia, he had completed eight consecutive semesters of high school when the principals' association declared in January 2010 that he couldn't keep playing basketball.
Faithfull's family disagreed, appealed to the MPA for a waiver and got denied. Their appeal to a Cumberland County Superior Court judge was heard and an injunction was granted to keep the 6-foot-3 point guard playing. Cheverus would be held in contempt of court if Faithfull did not play.
When he did play, Faithfull was held in contempt by opposing fans. Cries of "cheater" were among the nicer comments he heard from the stands, especially when Cheverus beat Westbrook High to win the Western Maine Class A championship, and then beat Edward Little High of Auburn for the state title.
The heat from the anger and hate directed at Faithfull did cool. It has been more than 30 months since the tournament games were played.
Monday's announcement restoked the fire, but not for Nick Jobin, who was a senior leader on the Westbrook team that year. Not for James Philbrook, who was a senior on Edward Little's team.
"I put myself in his shoes," Jobin said Tuesday. "I could feel the hostility (in the crowd). It was awesome the way he handled it. I shook his hand afterward. He had a lot to be proud of in dealing with that negativity.
"Indi was part of that Cheverus team and part of their season," Jobin said. "He made them the team that they were, and that was the team we wanted to beat. I think my teammates were all on the same page. We wanted to beat the best. We had our chance."
Did Faithfull have an advantage because he had an extra semester? Did his extra time in Australia, waiting to come to the U.S., give him an edge?
"I didn't see it," said Jobin.
Jobin, Philbrook and Faithfull were summer teammates on a Maine AAU basketball team. They practiced, traveled and played together. Jobin and Philbrook got to know Faithfull as someone other than the opponent from Australia.
"I loved the kid," said Philbrook. "It's unfortunate what happened. Everything. It stunk to lose, of course. We (Edward Little) worked hard to win that game. But Indi was part of (Cheverus). I don't think it was right to say he couldn't play. I wouldn't have wanted to play that game without him."
Jobin and Philbrook are now teammates at St. Joseph's College in Standish. Both are juniors.
Faithfull prepped for a year at St. Thomas More School in Connecticut and is now a sophomore at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C.
Jobin has visited Faithfull on his Facebook page but they've essentially fallen out of touch, as has Philbrook.
"We both had a passion to play basketball," said Philbrook. "That's what brought us together. That hasn't changed."
The MPA's action brought back memories of that winter to Jennie Gwilym of Freeport, mother of Peter Gwilym, the star football player at Cheverus who was also on the basketball team.
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