It’s tourney time again in Bangor (originally written February 21, 2022) and tomorrow morning the Calais Girls begin their quest for another Gold Ball at the Cross Center. If they bring home the gold they join many other Calais teams who have won it all. In fact, the Calais girls won the first state girls basketball championship in 1931.
In the mid 1920s a number of area high schools had girl’s basketball teams, Eastport and Shead among them. Calais High, then called Calais
Academy, did not have a team but on January 13, 1926 the Calais Advertiser reported that the girls at Calais Academy “have been
awakened to the fact that there is splendid material for an “All Star” quintet in the school” and under the guidance of Coach Woodside “they
have developed a varsity team that will be well worth watching”. This prediction turned out to be bit premature as the first girl’s basketball game against Eastport on January 20, 1926 resulted in a 46-11 defeat although, as explained by the Advertiser, “the absence of Miss Charlene Davidson, forward, due to sickness had a great deal to do with the defeat.” We believe Miss Davidson is the girl just to the left of the girl holding the ball in the first photo below.
Whatever the reason for the trouncing by Eastport, the Calais girls quickly became a powerhouse in state basketball. In those days there was no official state title but by 1929 the Calais girls had claimed the unofficial title as state champions. The photo above shows the 1929 team being feted in front of the St Croix Hotel. In 1931 high school basketball in Maine finally got organized and the first official girl’s state championship was played in Livermore Falls. Only part of the Calais Academy team could make the trip as the coach’s car could hold only seven players and, even then, two of the smaller players had to sit on folding chairs in the back seat. The trip took two days but the players stayed in shape by pushing the car out of
several snowdrifts along the way.
They played three games, beating Stratton 31-4, Jay 37-17 and easily beating Oxford 37-21 for the title and were crowned the first girl’s state champions of the State of Maine. According to an article by Rex Nicholson in the Calais Times in 2000, the tradition of meeting the champions outside of town and escorting the team back to the school began when the 1931 team returned from Livermore Falls.
The 1931-32 team did not win the title although some notes on the back of the above photo claim they did. As far as we know it wasn’t until Bob McShane’s powerhouses of the 1990s and 2000s that the Calais girls brought home the gold again. Regardless, girls teams from Calais High have a long and storied history in the state and we’re sure this year’s team will, win or lose, play with the championship spirit and tradition established by those early teams from Calais Academy. Go Blue Devils!