Athletes in five of Maine’s seven winter sports were welcomed to preseason camp Monday with expectations they should show up prepared to run, or skate, or swim, or sweat it out on the mat, or prepare to fall by the wayside.

But does the same go for coaches? Craig Jipson and Mike Adams of Edward Little would say yes. Neither had enough hands or eyes to field all the parental consent forms and proofs of physical being thrown their way prior to the initial basketball sessions of the 2014-15 season.

A visitor suggested to Jipson that he needed a secretary. “You’re not kidding,” the girls’ coach howled.

One thing neither Red Eddies’ leader needed was an extensive getting-to-know-you session, designed for players or coaches.

The EL girls graduated only one player from a team that reached the Class A East regional final for the second time in three years. Only two boys departed after seeing significant time on a semifinal squad.

After years of summer camps, offseason weight room workouts and winters together, there were few surprises Monday. Both EL teams hit the hardwood running, and with high expectations.


“We had a great summer. What our boys do in the summer is amazing,” Adams said. “The kids have been in the weight room, and the kids have worked, but they’re never in basketball shape. We got after it pretty good.”

“I know a lot of people get into conditioning. We try to get right into teaching,” Jipson added. “A lot of stuff we do, especially defensively, is a system, so our motto is we don’t do a whole lot of running. All the drills we do we try to do at 100 miles an hour. (Maine Hall of Fame coach) Bob Brown was really big on that.”

The continuity of Edward Little’s programs contributes to that relatively easy transition each autumn. Adams is beginning his 14th year at the boys’ helm. This is Jipson’s 10th winter with the Red Eddies.

Both stay heavily involved throughout the feeder system. Jipson also noted that the coaches are working with a different breed of athlete in the information age.

“My son knew more about football in third grade than I ever knew in high school,” Jipson said. “They know so much more now, so we’re trying to teach so much more defensively that we have to start teaching right from day one.”

No sooner did Jipson say than he had his team doing push-ups at the start of practice, but it was only a repeat-after-me gimmick designed to help the Eddies remember a basic instruction that he didn’t wish to repeat later on.


Adams split his three-hour tryout into a 90-minute session for juniors and seniors and a matching block for younger players.

The early group is led by guard Ian Mileikis, who missed the entire 2013-14 regular season after breaking his foot in a football playoff game.

“Having Ian back obviously makes a big difference,” Adams said. “Wait until you see him. He benched 280 (pounds) the other day. He’s just massive.”

If spectators and opponents don’t observe the Eddies’ muscle tone, they’re sure to notice their depth.

“I’ve never been one who plays a lot of guys, but at times this summer there were six other guys besides the starting five, if there is one right now, who all played good enough to make you think that they could start,” Adams said. “That’s going to be great in terms of in practice, if you’re not getting after it, somebody else is.”

Jipson will have eight seniors, his largest delegation in 18 years as a varsity coach.


There’s experience, size and athleticism, all of it worthy to handle a brutal preseason schedule (Thornton, Deering, McAuley, Gorham) and a top-heavy KVAC (Oxford Hills, Bangor, Lawrence).

No secret, then, why the coach wants to get down to business as quickly as possible.

“We know so much more now, and we know more about how to train athletes. You don’t get faster by running slower, so the whole thing about ‘we’re going to run 500 laps,’ it contradicts,” Jipson said. “There’s a whole lot more research that goes into it now, so I think coaches who are going to clinics and staying on top of it are just changing how they teach.”

Neither team struggles to attract players the way so many area schools have in an age of declining enrollment and other extracurricular options.

Winning certainly helps, but the palpable, perfect blend of intensity and good humor in the EL gym are a big part of the equation.

“We need to keep it fun,” Jipson said. “I know I’m doing spread offense with freshman football and the kids love it. You’ve got to make sports more exciting, or kids are just going to turn to the computer and iPad. That part of pressing and running in basketball and making it exciting is key for them.”

Excitement for the EL boys is guaranteed from a schedule that includes Division I prospects Nick Mayo of Messalonskee, Andrew Fleming of Oxford Hills and Shyheim Ulrickson of Mt. Ararat.

“And Lewiston is top-five, I don’t care what anybody says,” Adams said. “As with any decent team, if we can put individualism aside and just focus on us, it’ll be fine, and it’s a good group of guys.”

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.