Football: Western Mountain 7v7 Classic offers a unique summer tournament

STRONG – What beats a seven-on-seven soccer championship for teams preparing for the fall season?

For those involved in the Western Mountain 7v7 Summer Classic, the answer is camping. And in this particular tournament, hosted by Mount Abram Regional High School, players get a little bit of both.

The tournament – the thirteenth of its kind – provides teams from across Maine to work on skills and provide a bonding experience to teams before the enforced no-intervention period – where coaches are not allowed to contact players – before fall pre-season camps begin.

“The camping aspect, a lot of teams love it, because of the team unity it brings,” said Darren Allen, a boys soccer coach from Mount Abram.

“It’s an absolutely amazing experience,” said Maddy Thorndike, Skowhegan’s chief executive officer. “You have to play as a team and then you can go out as a team and get up the next morning and do it again. I feel like it’s a good start to the season. You have to get to know each other better. It’s really great.”

The tournament was first started by current Spruce Mountain athletic director Mark Keeler, who was previously the girls’ soccer coach at Mount Abrams.

“Mark Keeler started this around 2008, and left around 2015,” Allen said. “It kind of took the reins from there. We expanded it a little bit, expanded the teams. It expanded last night and now has a few followers…we have teams from all over the world. Eastport, Sanford is coming, George Stevens Academy here, Mount Blue here. .”

Teams from multiple classes participated in the tournament, including Gardiner, Levitt (from Turner), Schohegan, Wrangeley, Buckfield, Ellsworth, Mountain Valley (from Romford), Mount View (from Thorndike), Maranacoke (from Redfield), and Mount Blue (from Redfield). Redfield (Farmington), Hall-dale (Farmingdale), Shedd (from Eastport) and Central (Corinth).

Rangeley goalkeeper Nicole LeMay makes a save while Mount View’s Elsa Petrac looks for a rebound in the Western Mountain 7 against 7 Soccer Classic on Friday at Mount Abram High School in Strong. Michael J Simans / Morning Sentinel

They’re doing an amazing job,” said Maranacoque girls’ soccer coach Travis Magnuson. “I think they usually have about 25 teams here, there are 20 this year. (The setup) allows for more and more touch passing (in games). But the important thing also is just the team building. They are camping, they are around each other. That It’s the big aspect that I like about it.”

Play is divided into a league tournament on four different stadiums, starting at 2 pm and ending at 9:40 pm, with the remaining teams of the tournament ending in a singles elimination game on the second day.

“There are two different arcs,” Allen said. “The coaches do a self-evaluation (of their team). We have a segment that is more competitive with stronger teams and the other segment[includes]less strong teams, (beginners) teams and smaller schools.”

With seven out of seven matches, teams are given opportunities to work on different skills that may automatically come from 11 out of 11 matches.

“It was a good experience,” said Ash Rollins, a sophomore from Abram University. “It’s so much fun, it gets you in (in the field), you work on your communication skills, you can focus on that.”

“It’s a really good tournament to get you out and work on our technique and our passing that gets you ready for the season as well,” said Addie Watson, a senior at Maranacock.

Aside from the camping opportunity, there was a food truck, along with a concession table that included tournament merchandise. Tournament proceeds assist both of the football programs on Mount Abram.

While both coaches and players enjoy the tournament experience, the chance to bond with their teammates one last time before fall camp begins is a cherished aspect of the Summer Classic.

It’s cool,” said longtime junior girls soccer coach Fred Konlog, who will move on and coach the junior team while his son, Zach Konlog, takes over the college program in the fall. “We come every year since it started about 13 years ago. It’s just such a great time. It brings your teams together and you get a lot from it.”

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