Playing soccer in Bangor, Maine, comes with plenty of challenges. The fact that there are a lot of soccer success stories coming out of Bangor truly speaks to the passion the community has for the sport.
"When you compare a place like Bangor to Connecticut, the thing that is impressive is just what it really takes to develop here," said Scott Atherley, women’s soccer head coach at the University of Maine, who has lived in Bangor for about 20 years but grew up in Connecticut. "Geographically, you’ve got weather challenges, you have travel challenges. Ultimately, the people making it here from a coaching and player standpoint have really made a terrific commitment to get themselves where they are."
Maine is one of the northernmost states in the country and is known for its nature. It’s not typically known as a mecca for soccer. That makes finding competition a challenge. According to Atherley — whose son, Carson, played at Bangor High School, was named the 2016-17 Gatorade Maine Boys Soccer Player of the Year, and is now at Brown — teams from Bangor have to travel far in order to find top competition.
"I think about his club team the past two years, consistently traveling two hours each way to attend a 90-minute practice three days a week," Atherley said. "This is a challenge for all the Bangor players. Many that gravitated to playing for club teams from Portland, the NCL teams and New England Premiership teams, those games were in Lancaster, Massachusetts. Seacoast United Black Bear, four hours away is a home game. You’re going to a neutral site to play a team from Connecticut in Worcester. Everybody associated players from Bangor to being from Portland, and you have to add two hours to the ride. The commitment is terrific, and they spend a lot of time traveling."