After two years of playing AAU basketball under the Maine United brand, an area AAU program featuring girls from the graduating class of 2027 is changing its name to Mode3 and will be the first team from Maine playing on the Under Armour basketball circuits, “UA Future” and “UA Rise.”

Started by Brendan Fontaine of Auburn and Wayne Steele of Gray, Mode3 comprises girls in the 2027 high school graduation year from all across Maine. The team is slated to play at a weekend tournament at Emmanuel College in Boston in September, then will hold practices throughout the fall and winter to gear up for the Under Armour circuits that start in March. 

“Basically, (Under Armour) proposed to us this idea and asked if we wanted to join the sneaker circuits,” Fontaine said. “Under Armour has middle school circuits. Nike (sponsored competition) only starts in ninth grade. We were blessed to have that offer to ride with Maine United and follow their protocol, and clearly we had success because Under Armour reached out to us to join.”

The name Mode3 comes from an internal team phrase that means playing as hard as you can. 

“One of our favorite mottos is trying to get our girls to ‘compete differently,’” Steele said. “How do you compete at the highest level? I kind of explained to them at a practice that there are different modes. Mode one is you’re out there, finding yourself away from the basketball and going through the motions. Mode two, you’re competing and working hard but not giving it everything you’ve got. Mode three, it becomes personal. It becomes playing a little bit pissed off and giving yourself the best, physically and mentally. We call that mode three. It turned into an internal language for us.”

Both Fontaine and Steele said that the team is very close, and the players came together quickly. 


“At the end of the first practice this year, we could not separate the kids,” Steele said. “The families and the kids are all so similar and they all love it. Playing with other strong players is like being at the circus. They love it.”

The duo also wants to bring in more and more people into the Mode3 family. 

Mode3 will use trainers like Maine’s Ben Teer and Massachusetts’ Bash Hudson to help the team get better, as well as other area trainers. Fontaine and Steele are pushing inclusion. 

“This is the first time that I know of that two families, which turned into 10, said what’s best for our kid may not be just in this one program,” Fontaine said. “We aren’t exclusive, we’re not going high-brow, we are trying to get everyone behind us and represent Maine with the best that Maine has to offer.”

Before the players were on the same team, they were split up between a few different AAU teams in the state. 

Fontaine’s daughter, Hope, and Steele’s daughter, Abbey, used to play against each other year after year ever since third grade. Last year, they finally joined up with Maine United. 

“I hunted Wayne down for three or four months before we made contact,” Fontaine said. “Our daughters were always so competitive, and they had a neutralizing effect, so I said, ‘I am done playing this girl, I need to team them up.’ We finally made contact, and then three or four months later we had our first weekend tournament together.”

After the success of the Maine United girls team last year, the program was invited to join the Under Armour AAU circuits. They couldn’t use Maine United as a team name anymore due to its connection with Nike, so Mode3 was created. 

Fontaine and Steele say that Mode3’s purpose is not to make money and that they will put any money they do make back into the program to help players play.

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