May 07, 2021
Sports Column

Fan Feedback

Brewer needs to keep Cookson as coach

I am writing in regards to the decent decision to not rehire Kelly Cookson as the Brewer High School softball coach for the 2006 season. As a former player and assistant coach under her guidance I feel the Brewer school system is making a huge mistake in this matter. Kelly Cookson has built this highly respected softball program, she is well organized and extremely knowledgeable, and more importantly she has instilled values and built character in athletes that they will never forget.

For 14 years, Kelly Cookson has invested her personal time and energy in creating the most respected softball program in the community. As a graduate of Brewer herself, she always took pride in the school and gave back to athletes more than she was ever given herself.

She has made sure that the parents of softball players are respected and involved in the success of every season. She accepted the budget she was given and put it to good use with the proper equipment. She also designed exciting new fundraisers to purchase more equipment and build a perfect field and assisted to maintain that field on her own time.

Cookson made sure that the athletes always had up-to-date uniforms even if it wasn’t in the budget, which taught an important lesson of working hard to raise money for what you want. She always told athletes to wear the uniform with pride. Through the years every athlete that went through Cookson’s program understood the importance of representing their school and in turn the program became highly respected.

Cookson is very knowledgeable in the game of softball and its rules. After coaching for 14 years she has formulated many drills to assist athletes in their skill to help them grow in their abilities and as a team. Every single practice is well organized and outlined by the minutes so time is used wisely.

She is always on time to practice (most times early) and her expectation of her team is the same. Each player is assigned a job to assist in practice and game preparation to insure time efficiency as well as responsibility. She has a motto that, “practice doesn’t make perfect… perfect practice makes perfect.”

Finally, every athlete that has had the pleasure of being coached by Cookson has learned not only the skills of sports but life lessons that will forever be instilled in them. Cookson has taught lessons of respect toward parents, coaches, officials, teachers and authority figures.

She has taught discipline and the importance of academic achievement. She is understanding and has gone way beyond her coaching statutes to step in when athletes ask for emotional support and show care and concern if an athlete is in any kind of trouble. She treats her team as if they are her own family. Every athlete has gained character and matured in more ways than one.

Kelly Cookson is more then just a softball coach, she is a mentor. She has given so much to so many young athletes, including myself. She gave me the skills I needed to become an all-star catcher in my junior and senior years of high school. But more importantly she has taught me to be determined in everything I do, to be patient and understanding. She has taught me the importance of being on time and never giving up. Her coaching style builds character that doesn’t end on the softball field.

I am asking you to please reconsider your decision in ending her career as Brewer High School softball coach. Not only will coach Cookson suffer, but the student athletes as well as the Brewer school system and the respected Brewer softball program will suffer.

Amanda Brigalli

Ed Tech, Brewer High School 2000-2004

Athlete in Brewer softball 1995-1998

Assistant coach to Cookson 2001-2004

Player’s action shows refreshing spirit

I was impressed and moved by the story of the game between Jonesport-Beals and Deer Isle-Stonington (BDN Jan. 28-29). What got to me was the quote by J-B player Ralph Backman talking about his game-winning layup: “I don’t know if there was a play on or not. I saw Jonathan coming up the court and he made a great pass. I’m going to get the recognition, but it was his pass that did it.”

At a time when there are too many negative and tragic stories written about the youth of Washington County, this classy quote with its selfless, give- credit-where-it’s-due spirit, is worth more than a gold basketball, many of which sit in the trophy cases at J-B.

Truth be told it is no fluke that the young Mr. Backman would have the “right stuff” which would produce that kind of quality, off-the-cuff comment. He, along with countless other small town Washington County and Maine kids, are the products of families and communities where that attitude has long been the norm.

As kids growing up on Beals, in high school we scrimmaged night after night against the state champs from earlier years such as the Alley brothers, Harold, Wendell and Ordie; and the Beal brothers, Stan, Elliot and Merle. They were big, strong and fast and showed no mercy but we needed no referee. It was always on the honor system and they called a foul on themselves quicker than you could call it on them. On a fast break (which they could do nonstop for hours) the only thing that mattered was finding the open man and a good pass to him meant more than scoring yourself.

Granted, in many ways it was a different era. Our principal, Sylvina Alley, started each day reading to the entire high school (all 32 of us) a chapter from the Bible and a page or two of Shakespeare. While that tradition may have been discontinued, it is heartening to see that the tradition of others first is still alive among Mr. Backman and his teammates. That’s the Washington County I knew and cherished and still do.

Gary A. DeLong

Bar Harbor

Beals High School, Class of ’62

Note to readers: The NEWS reserves the right to edit submissions for libel, taste, clarity, and to fit available space. Letters should include a signature, full name, address, and daytime phone number. Letters may be mailed to: P.O. Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402, or e-mailed:

Correction: A letter from Amanda Brigalli in Fan Feedback in Tuesday’s Sports section should have stated: “I am writing in regards to the recent decision to not rehire Kelly Cookson as the Brewer High School softball coach for the 2006 season.”

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