In between working two jobs and conducting her studies at Central Maine Community College over Zoom, Abby Nadeau finds time this fall to work on basketball.

Nadeau is not one of the 65 CMCC students who is living and taking classes on the Auburn campus, so she hadn’t been there, let alone Kirk Hall, its gym and the weight room next door, since August. Like the vast majority of the school’s 2,700 students, she is taking her classes online, while also participating in the Mustangs’ Zoom meetings and workouts or just generally keeping in touch with her teammates.

Yet Nadeau, an Oak Hill graduate and the Mustangs’ lone returning captain, said she was still somewhat surprised CMCC’s conference, the Yankee Small College Conference, decided on Thursday to cancel its winter sports season due to COVID-19.

“I always knew it was a possibility, it was in the back of my mind, and Coach (Andrew Morong) has been straight with us through the whole thing,” said Nadeau, a sophomore who was named a captain last year during a season in which the Mustangs played in their fourth consecutive United States Collegiate Athletic Association national championship game. “But really, since August, as a captain and someone who had so many great second-year players that helped me last year, I’ve just been trying to keep everyone focused on building chemistry and making another national championship game.”

Abby Nadeau said she is very confused about how to proceed after her final year with the Central Maine Community College basketball team was cut short because of COVID-19. Nadeau is a 2019 graduate of Oak Hill High School in Wales. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

In its announcement on Thursday, the YSCC permitted its member schools, which also include Southern Maine Community College and University of Maine at Augusta, to continue training and conditioning athletes and play non-conference competition. But with virtually all of its players off-campus and, in many cases, living in other states and countries, CMCC will not be playing any men’s or women’s basketball games for the 2020-21 season.

Nadeau, who is working towards completing CMCC’s two-year education program, is still considering her options for her future. Those plans may or may not include playing basketball for the Mustangs again, but her main objective, to continue studying to become a K-3 teacher, will likely take priority.

“I’m not really sure what I’m going to do,” Nadeau said. “Coach Morong and I are in contact quite a bit and we’re always exploring the options I have.”

Corey David, a senior captain on the men’s basketball team and the only member of either team living and attending classes on campus, wasn’t surprised by the announcement. But as someone coming off of ACL and meniscus surgery whose future plans include playing professionally overseas, a return to CMCC for next season is a virtual certainty.

“Basketball is a huge piece to (deciding his future plans). It’s the reason why I’m here,” said David, a 6-foot point guard from Ocala, Fla.

Central Maine Community College Athletic Director and men’s’ basketball coach Dave Gonyea is flanked by two of his players, Khalid Ibn, left, and Corey David, right. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

The women’s team hasn’t done anything as a full team but online meetings and workouts, which will continue through the remainder of the winter season and, if the virus allows, run a normal off-season program, according to Morong.

“Right now, it’s about starting the process for next fall,” he said.

Men’s coach and athletic director Dave Gonyea said his team, which has nine international players, will also be working towards next fall. Having so many players scattered around the globe makes getting together regularly, even online, less feasible.

“I’m Zooming with them all the time individually, keeping an open dialogue and making sure everyone’s on the same page,” Gonyea said. “They don’t like (the season being canceled) but they understand, and I think everyone understands that we have to protect the kids and the public first and keep everyone safe.”

Athletes will retain their eligibility, and Morong and Gonyea said they welcome anyone who wants to return next season and have academic plans to make that possible.

“But I’ve also told them if they have better options, I understand,” Gonyea said.

Gonyea said none of the players have told him they are leaving and he expects all of them to return.

The cancellation is a bit of a blessing in disguise for David, 25, who said he still has a couple of months left in his recovery from his knee surgery last February. During a normal season, the Mustangs would already be about a week into their conference schedule.

David is the only athlete on CMCC’s campus, which is only allowing students requiring in-person instruction (for labs, trade programs, etc.). But having the gym and weight room to himself for rehab isn’t worth not having any other Mustangs around.

“It’s just rough because I don’t have my teammates practicing and nobody’s around to hang out with,” he said. “It’s definitely weird.”

More members of the women’s team live locally and are dropping in for workouts, but Morong said he has lost one incoming first-year player from the Netherlands and has another from Florida still on the fence about next year.

“We have academic and athletic plans in place for each and every one of our players to come back. But if they can’t, it’s understandable and we’ll help them with their next step in any way we can,” he said.

Nadeau was planning on taking the next step as a second-year captain leading a roster with a lot of turnover (eight new players going into this fall).

“We really emphasize team building, and I was really looking forward to this year because as a second-year, I was stepping in and would be holding a lot of responsibility in that,” she said. “The veterans I had last year like Kristen Huntress and Natalie Thurber had a huge influence on me and I just know that at the end of the day I want to be there for my teammates.”

Nadeau said she will continue to participate in the team’s on-line activities and remain available to teammates who need to talk. Having that role, and possibly having to give up doing something she’s done all of her life, will make the decision on whether or not to come back next year more difficult.

Gonyea and Morong acknowledged not having games will give them more time to recruit, and they intend to take advantage even though neither can be certain what players they already have will be back next year.

“You really feel for the student-athletes across the country, whether they’re high school or college kids, who have this year ripped from them and have all of this uncertainty surrounding next year,” said Morong, who has led the Mustangs to two of the last four USCAA national titles and is also CMCC’s director of admissions.

“What no one’s talking about is with the current athletes maintaining a year of eligibility; What about the kids coming into school next August, this year’s high school seniors?” said Gonyea, who is in his 28th year with the Mustangs.


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