January 18, 2022

Ripton to play basketball for USM

Trisha Ripton was a key member of the University of Maine women’s basketball team from 1993-96, but ankle surgery prematurely ended her Black Bear career prior to her senior season.

Three years later, the Newport native is back on the court. This time, she’s playing at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham.

The 25-year-old Ripton, a two-time NEWS All-Maine pick at Stearns High in Millinocket, has been cleared by the NCAA to compete for the Huskies during the second semester, starting with today’s game against the College of New Jersey in the Salem State Invitational at Salem, Mass.

B.L. Elfring, the sports information director and NCAA compliance coordinator at USM, explained Ripton retained athletic eligibility at the Division III level, even though she cannot play Division I ball.

“It’s nothing unusual here in Division III,” Elfring said. “We don’t use a five-year calendar [like in Division I], we use a 10-semester calendar, and they don’t have to be consecutive.”

Since Ripton utilized only six semesters of her athletic eligibility at Division I UMaine, she has two remaining that may be used at either Division II or III, where players have 10 semesters to play eight, but with no time constraints.

In Division I, athletes must complete their four seasons of eligibility within five calendar years of the date they first start taking classes.

Ripton stayed involved in basketball after ending her UMaine career. From 1997-99, she served as girls JV and varsity assistant coach at Brewer High under former coach Lauree Gott.

This fall, she was working part-time for USM Athletic Director Al Bean and acted as a volunteer coach for the Huskies under Gary Fifield before deciding recently to pursue the idea of playing again.

“She kind of realized the fire [for basketball] still burned,” offered Elfring, who said Ripton is not comfortable discussing her situation with the media. She did grant an interview, which aired Monday, with WABI-TV in Bangor.

Elfring said Ripton, who has not yet earned an undergraduate degree, must take a minimum of 12 credit hours this semester to remain eligible. She was cleared to begin practicing this week after she was officially accepted at USM and enrolled for second-semester classes.

Fifield could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but Elfring said Ripton could be used at a variety of positions.

“I’m sure Gary is happy to have her,” Elfring said. “Because she’s 5-10, we could maybe use her out on a wing, the three [spot], possibly the two. Certainly, we could use her at the four.”

Ripton was a two-year starter at small forward for UMaine, averaging 7.7 points per game while ranking second in the former North Atlantic Conference with 38 percent 3-point shooting during 1995-96. She also was fifth in the NAC and second on the team with 4.3 assists per game.

Ripton’s career came temporarily to an end the following summer when she underwent surgery on her ankle and informed the UMaine administration she would not return. Ripton did retain her basketball scholarship for 1996-97.

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