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No Place Like Home
The following article was first featured in the December edition of Flames Illustrated. Kittery Maine has helped the Lady Flames win three of their last four games, including Monday night's Big South Conference opener at High Point. Liberty will return to action Saturday at 5 p.m., at Presbyterian College.
The home opener is always a highly-anticipated contest, no matter what the sport, because it provides the first opportunity for fans to get a first-hand look at their favorite team.
This year's Liberty women's basketball home opener against Virginia Union, played Nov. 16 at the Vines Center, was especially meaningful for 6-4 redshirt junior forward/center Kittery Maine. The matchup versus the Panthers marked Maine's return to the court, 20 months removed from her last action in a Lady Flames uniform.
Maine played 15 minutes off the bench that evening, contributing two points, three rebounds and an assist to Liberty's first win of the 2010-11 season. "It was great to get back out there," Maine remarked. "It felt like it had been so long."
In fact, Maine had not appeared in a game for the Lady Flames since March 22, 2009, when Liberty dropped an NCAA Tournament contest to Louisville in Baton Rouge, La. The reason for her prolonged absence from the court was an ACL injury sustained in a scrimmage at Georgetown prior to the start of the 2009-10 campaign.
By all accounts, Maine was in the best shape of her career and was ready to be a key player for last year's team, before the knee injury wiped out her entire season. Instead of getting discouraged, though, the Bonaire, Ga., native focused on working hard so she could return to the court.
"I pushed myself to return as quickly as I could, so I could help the team this year," noted Maine. "Sitting on the sideline at last year's games made me want to play even more and work even harder in rehab."
As Maine continues to get more comfortable on the court after her extended layoff, she maintains an important role on the team.
"Kittery does a tremendous job with a lot of the details that contribute to the success of our team," stated head coach Carey Green, who included Maine as part of the Lady Flames' leadership team.
"I try to be an encourager and leader for this team," added Maine. "I try to help push others and keep everybody's heads up.
"On the court, I focus on rebounding and making shots from both the inside and outside."
Maine hopes to do her part to help the Lady Flames win another Big South Conference title, which would be their fourth in a row, because she doesn't know anything but success. She has played for a string of winning basketball teams at both the high school and college level.
At Warner Robins High School, Maine's basketball team went 24-5 her junior year and reached the Georgia Sweet 16 during her senior season. Then, her first three seasons at Liberty have seen the Lady Flames go 79-19 and capture a trio of conference titles.
Maine's success has also extended into the classroom, where she has earned a spot on the Big South Presidential Honor Roll each of her first three years at Liberty. She is on track to graduate with a bachelor's degree in kinesiology in May and aspires to be a physical therapist.
Maine does not spend all of her time indoors, either studying or doing something basketball related. She also enjoys outdoor activities. Her interests are many, including horseback riding, hiking, mud bogging, riding four-wheelers and "anything to do with animals."
Maine also cherishes spending time with her large family, which includes two brothers, three sisters and eight nieces and nephews. "We're a really close family," explained Maine. "They are a big encouragement to me, and they help push me. They are always there for me when I need them.
"If it wasn't for my family, I'm sure that I wouldn't be where I am today."
Also, if it weren't for Maine's family, she would not have such a unique name. Explaining the source of her name, she explained, "My dad Terry was working in New Hampshire when I was born. One day, he decided to visit Maine, so he could see our family's last name written everywhere.
"The first town he entered across the state border was called Kittery. He really liked that name and decided it would be a nice name for his daughter."
Maine's uniform number (No. 43) is also unique, as she is the only player in the program's 36-year history to don the number. It also has a story behind it, which further serves to illustrate the value Maine places on her family and friends.
"A friend of mine from back home wore No. 1 on the softball diamond," Maine explained. "She was tragically killed in a car accident. So, I decided to add her number and my high school number (No. 42) and wear No. 43 in college."
After 20 months away from action, Maine is thankful to be healthy enough to wear her No. 43 jersey at the Lady Flames' games this season, instead of a team warmup suit or dress clothes. She hopes to be an active and integral part of a memorable 2010-11 season at Liberty.
"We want to win the Big South title and then get to the Sweet 16 or further in the NCAA Tournament," remarked an optimistic Maine. If her teammates follow Maine's example of hard work and dedication, those lofty goals may become a reality.
Paul Carmany is an Assistant Athletics Communications Director for Liberty University, assigned to cover women's basketball.