Exits off I-95 lead to lots of great sports stories

So I’m driving north on Interstate 95 the other day for a quick visit to hometown Houlton. A beautiful morning, the leaves are nearly in full color. I still can’t get used to the new speed limit of 75 mph…

I happen to look to my right as I passed by Exit 217. I see the sign that reads Howland-Enfield and I started to think about Matt Mulligan. From this non-football hotbed to tight end for the New England Patriots. I chuckled to myself.

Then my mind started to wonder…how many times I’ve passed by all of the exit signs over the years. Then I started thinking about all the great sports stories and people I’ve covered over the years when I actually took the exits into all these towns…

Exits 191/193 – Orono/Veazie:  I went back to the first two exits northbound. Wish I had a dime for every time I turned off I-95 to cover a story here. There’s a certain strategy used for which exit a  reporter enters or exits depending on game-day traffic. All those UM athletes and all those games…Kariya, Buck, Swift, Howard, Cross, Smith, the names go on and on…

Exits 197/199 – Old Town: Again, I think of driving strategy to get in and out of the area before and after games…the Orono at Old Town football late season game when both were unbeaten. The jam-packed MacKenzie Gym when Old Town had the twin towers and battled Bangor. The day of the state championship Little League game held in Old Town when Bangor West beat York with a walk-off homer in extra innings…

Exit 217- Howland/Enfield: This is where the Mulligan story kicked in. But I also think of covering summer weekend softball tournaments here when they were the big thing years ago. I think of PVHS soccer success. I think I met current MPA executive director Dick Durost for the first time here…

Exit 227- Lincoln: I think of coming here to cover Friday night football and thinking the opposition just doesn’t know how hard it is going to be to win in Lincoln on a Friday night. I think of Curtis Robertson dominating the paint on a basketball floor…

T-2 R-9: It’s not an exit but I remember the first time I saw that sign and saying “what kind of name is that?”

Exit 244 – Millinocket/East Millinocket/Medway: I just start thinking names…Wentworth, DiFrederico, Pound, MacDonald, Rosebush, Carter, Greenlaw, Marks…

Exit 259 – Benedicta: This relatively new exit. I only remember the first time in took it…then discovered you can’t get back on I-95 North from this spot. I remember thinking “who the hell designed this?”

Exit 264 –  Sherman/Patten: I think of a story I reported on as players and coaches celebrated the anniversary of the 1947 Patten Academy team winning the state title and beating big Boston Latin School at the New England tournament.

Exit 276/286/291 – Island Falls/Oakfield/Smyrna: Current highway construction sends you off I-95 and sends you through this area. I played a lot of baseball games in my youth against teams from this area. I remember players were always “tougher than nails” as we like to say.

Exit 302 – Houlton: I get my hometown and think how quickly this ride seemed. I think I am glad I get the chance to actually exit I-95 to cover the small town sports stories.

I think I need to kick in the same memory bank the next time I head south of Bangor. Sounds like another blog topic