February 4, 2013

It's the family of winners at Waynflete

The Veroneau family – all 10 members – have a past, present and future on a program of success.

By Steve Craig scraig@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

"If I need something done, I go to the Veroneaus," Waynflete girls' basketball coach Brandon Salway said.

click image to enlarge

This year there are three Veroneaus playing girls’ basketball for Waynflete – freshman Anne, left, and the senior twins, Martha, center, and Catherine. And a state title is possible.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

From keeping score to running the video to heading the athletic council – from playing in the past to playing in the present and future – the Veroneau family has made memories and is poised to make many more for the basketball programs at Waynflete.

Courtesy Photo

Senior scoring sensation Martha, and her twin sister and defensive stalwart Catherine, have been joined on the roster by freshman sister Anne. The Flyers are 10-3 and intent on topping last year's run to the Western Class C final.

Veroneaus are also helping off the court. Vin Veroneau has been the scorekeeper for more years than he cares to count. Nancy Veroneau chairs Waynflete's athletic council. Their youngest children, John, 13, and Michael, 10, record the video of the girls' games.

Then there are nights when older siblings Andrew, 24; Margaret, 22; and Joseph, 20 -- each a Waynflete grad and former Flyer basketball player -- make the trip from the greater Boston area to lend their support. That's 10 Veroneaus in all and "basketball's always been the family sport," Martha Veroneau said.

Why basketball?

"There's too many of us to go skiing," Nancy Veroneau said.

Martha Veroneau said she wants to go to a gym sometime soon for an all-in-the-family basketball game.

"We have five boys and five girls so we can do girls vs. boys," Martha said. "The girls obviously think we'll win but the boys have a different opinion of what the outcome will be."

The girls have reason to be confident.

Oldest sister Margaret, a graduate nursing student at Boston College, is Waynflete's all-time scorer with 1,280 points.

Martha is an all-around athlete who won the Class C cross country title as a freshman.

As a junior she scored a tournament-record 47 points, tying an all-class record by making nine 3-pointers. This season she's averaging over 18 points and is closing in on her sister's scoring record. In the spring she scored 46 goals with 43 assists to lead Waynflete to the Class B lacrosse title and earn Maine Sunday Telegram Player of the Year honors.

"Oh, she is the best athlete of all of us," Margaret said matter-of-factly. "Whether she can beat me in basketball is still a question. You know, the older sister thing."

Catherine is a little taller than her twin sister and starts at forward. Her focus is defense and rebounding.

"I've always been geared more toward the defensive end and she's always been more toward the offense," Catherine said. "It helps us both when we play one-on-one, it usually ends up with her with the ball and me on defense but it's definitely helped us both improve. I have won once or twice but it's rare."

Waynflete's goal is to win the school's first girls' basketball championship. The Flyers have not lost to a Class C school and reached the Western final two of the past three seasons.

"It is a pretty plausible goal," Catherine said.

Catherine Veroneau's personal goal is more modest. She simply wants to be on the court when the season ends.

Her sophomore and junior seasons were cut short when she tore the anterior cruciate ligament in the same knee, resulting in two surgical repairs, two lost lacrosse seasons and two lengthy recoveries.

"The first time it was really upsetting for her, and the team, and for me," Martha said. "We'd been on the same team, usually playing at the same time, since elementary school. Last year with her second tear it was devastating for her and for us."

"When I think of Catherine, I think of toughness, going through two of those knee surgeries. She's resilient," Salway said. "She plays just as hard as she ever did. Who knows where she'd be now if she hadn't had the knee injuries."

Anne plays with a calm assuredness and exhibits traits that appear gleaned from both Catherine and Martha. While a guard she excels at rebounding, and also has some of the flash of Martha's game.

"She's unflappable. Anne has a great attitude and a motor that never stops," Salway said. "I don't think she'd be fazed if she had to take the last shot."

Like her siblings, Anne's basketball experience is rooted on the family's slanted driveway court with a hoop a few inches shy of regulation height.

"Just playing in the driveway and not having so much focus on getting really good and just do it for the enjoyment. I feel that really helped," Anne said. "Having Catherine and Margaret and Martha there teaching, that was a really positive thing."

The Veroneaus' approach is old school, Vin Veroneau said. Margaret had a brief stint with an AAU-style travel team. None of the other children have. Instead they used Portland recreation programs and their siblings to hone their skills.

"We're not forced into athletics. It's just something we enjoy doing and if we stopped having fun, nobody would mind if we moved on to something else," Catherine said.

Next year, Catherine and Martha will be the ones moving on when they follow Andrew, Margaret and Joseph's steps, and enroll at Boston College. Like Margaret, they plan to study nursing. Martha did consider playing athletics in college but said she ultimately decided that "academics were the priority."

Before that, Anne is hoping she can help her sisters claim one more athletic memory.

"That they've been working for this for so long, and Catherine having her two injuries, and seeing her just stick with it, it would be really fun to win this year with them," Anne said.

Staff Writer Steve Craig can be contacted at 791-6413 or at:

scraig@mainetoday.com

 

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