The women’s basketball team is often abbreviated as WBB. For one night last week, those initials stood for women bumblebees, and the players had the costumes to match.
Getting dressed up is part of the fun of the Husky Community Halloween Party. It was held Friday, October 21 at the Gorham athletic fields. The Athletic Department stages the party each year as a gift to the community. All of the food and activities are free to kids up to fifth grade and their families. Student-athletes from every team at USM run the entire event.
Tom and Jamie Morawiec are the parents of two boys, ages 9 and not quite 2 years old. Even though they live five minutes away in Gorham, they had never come to the party in previous years. They made up for lost time by sampling anything that caught their interest.
Tom gave the hayride a positive review, then asked Jamie for her report on the haunted walk around the outer edge of the softball field.
“Somebody scared the crap out of Sebastian. It’s awesome,” Jamie answered. “He jumped a mile. Lots of dead people.”
One of the less scary activities was a giant game of Jenga, under the supervision of the men’s ice hockey team. Standing next to the tower of building blocks, the players looked right at home in their costumes as construction workers. They gave tips on which blocks to pull, and when their advice inevitably failed, they rebuilt the tower for the next group of kids.
“It’s a lot of fun. A lot of areas of my life have started to transition into early adult life, so it’s nice to enjoy these things for one more year,” said Tanner McClure, a senior studying Sport Management. He’s also a forward on the hockey team.
The busy bees on the women’s basketball team set up a portable hoop and invited kids to practice their shooting. A young baller in a penguin suit kept coming back for another try every few minutes. Whenever he or anyone else would score, the players would cheer until their antennae shook and hand out a congratulatory piece of candy.
The only member of the team to break from the bee theme was Head Coach Samantha Norris, who dressed up instead as the Mighty Thor from the recent Marvel movie. As the chief organizer of the party, she bounced constantly from one activity to the next, checking to make sure they were all running smoothly.
“There’s a lot of planning that goes into it,” Norris said. “Our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee talks through some ideas for games that they want to play. We have teams select what they want to do from set up, clean up, running specific games, what themed costumes they want to wear.”
It wasn’t all work for Norris. She stopped frequently to let kids test their worthiness by lifting her hammer. And when the DJ cued up her song, she made a b-line for the dance party on the upper platform of the softball stadium to show off her moves.
After the dance party broke up, the women’s lacrosse team took over the area for a limbo contest. Players competed with kids to see who could bend backward the farthest and stay on their feet. It was probably no surprise that so many players would fall over since they were dressed up as bowling pins.
Along with the familiar roster of games, several new offerings made their debut this year. The Sodexo food truck set up shop on the near side of the lower parking lot. The next several parking spaces beyond that were reserved for trunk-or-treating, courtesy of the field hockey team. Among the piles of candy available, the kids had their favorites.
“We did goodies bags. They took those. Those were gone first. Those had Rice Krispies (Treats) in them,” said Jaigan Boudreau, a sophomore Criminology major. Only after her teammates urged her to reveal more did she admit, “Yes, made by me.”
Boudreau plays field hockey at the defender position. Like everyone on the team, she found a way to incorporate her jersey number into her costume. They looked like they stepped out of a Dr. Seuss book as the Cat in the Hat’s assistants, Thing 1 and Thing 2. Boudreau was Thing 26.
All traces of the party were gone by the time the teams returned to the fields for their weekend games. Better than any Halloween treat, a win the next day by the women’s soccer team would secure them the number one seed in the Little East Conference tournament championships.