Among the spectators who turned out Saturday to see Gorham’s boys scrimmage Boothbay Region were a few guys from last year’s basketball team who were back from college for Thanksgiving.

Ben Thayer, John MacKenzie, and Keegan Ballantyne sat together, one year removed from a season that brought the Rams to overtime of the state championship game.

With them was Rob Tole, a classmate who was the hoop team’s manager, as well as an accomplished athlete himself.

“I’m home for the week, so I thought I’d stop by to see how the team is doing,” said Tole, who played baseball and skied in high school. “Gorham’s always had a lot of guys come back (to support athletics).”

Tole is a Spanish major at St. Lawrence University, in upstate New York, and he plans to play baseball there in the spring. Like his friends, he’s had to adjust to life at college.

“You’ve got to read and write at least twice as much as you did in high school,” he said. “It takes a lot on my part to schedule work and make sure it gets done.”

MacKenzie played football at Bates in the fall. He’s scheduled to have surgery on the shoulder that he injured diving to the floor in that state title game, but with a brace and padding it didn’t bother him on the gridiron.

“My team wasn’t that good,” the lineman said of the Bobcats’ 2-6 campaign, “but I had a lot of fun.”

A biology major, MacKenzie said that he’s starting to get used to the academic demands he faces.

“I don’t know what I expected,” he said, “but it’s a really good experience.”

Thayer, who also attends Bates, echoed his classmate’s sentiments, saying he’s had to make “a big adjustment” to get on top of his studies.

A Mr. Basketball finalist last year, Thayer is one of four freshmen who earned spots on the Bobcats’ hoop squad, which is off to a 3-1 start.

“We have a good team, and we’re going to do well,” he said. “We’re one of the top teams, and hopefully I’ll be able to contribute.”

Ballantyne, a business management major at Emmanuel College in Boston, is enjoying big-city life. He’s also happy to be near his older brother, Kendrick, who plays football at Northeastern.

“I went to all his home games,” Keegan said, “but he got injured halfway through the season.”

Kendrick, a sophomore, started eight games at tight end before going down with an elbow injury. He was still third on the team in receptions, with 18.

In the bleachers on the other side of the gym, Kim Hart, Gorham class of ’03, cheered on his alma mater. A junior at Franklin Pierce College, he’s hit around .300 in his first two seasons playing for the Ravens.

“Getting to play college ball is really exciting,” said Hart, who is a designated hitter and first baseman. “I’m having a lot of fun.”

The fine arts major was especially excited to see Rams guard Jeff Manchester in action.

“He lived near me, and I’ve seen him grow up. It’s exciting to see him play.”


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