In its ongoing goal to provide daily newsworthy content and journalistic excellence to Midcoast residents, the Courier Publications/VillageSoup sports team — with its print editions The Courier-Gazette, The Camden Herald and The Republican Journal and websites and — experienced another award-winning year in 2017-2018, according to judges for the Maine Press Association's annual better newspaper contest.

In that organization's awards dinner/ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 20 at Grand Summit Resort Hotel and Conference Center at Sunday River, the Courier Publications/VillageSoup sports staff received a number of awards and strong overall recognition, as it does each year.

Annually, The Courier-Gazette, The Republican Journal and The Camden Herald have been deemed among the finest weekly newspapers in Maine, and includes some of the most comprehensive sports coverage in the state. And, because of that, the company's sports staff, which includes Holly Vanorse Spicer, Zack Miller, Mark Haskell and Ken Waltz, continued to bring home a boatload of honors.

The team received a combined 20 MPA awards.

See below a bundle of VillageSoup's best/favorite sports photos from 2017-18.

Among the highlights for the team was Vanorse Spicer being deemed the best columnist among weekly newspapers in the state, Miller winning the company's first visual story award, Haskell collecting a bundle of accolades for his overall work and the staff being recognized for its storytelling using words, photos and videos.

The following is a list of accolades, broken down by newspaper:

The Courier-Gazette

Haskell, first place, health/sport story; Waltz, second place, sports photo; Haskell, second place, game story; Waltz, third place, sports story; Haskell, first and third places, sports news story; Vanorse Spicer, second place, sports profile; Miller, third place, sports profile; Vanorse Spicer, first place sports columnist; Waltz, first and second places, sports page design; and Haskell, Miller, Vanorse Spicer and Waltz, first place, sports section.

Haskell was spotlighted for his story on soccer coach Darryl Townsend and his ongoing health struggles. The judge wrote: "An inspirational story that is well-written. I like the lead."

Waltz was honored for a photo of a Babe Ruth baseball player bending low to the ground to delivery a pitch.

Haskell earned recognition for his story on the Oceanside boys basketball team losing a tournament game in the final seconds. The judge wrote: "Well-written. Very good lead to set the tone of the story."

Waltz earned kudos for his story on an epic Oceanside and Old Town regional softball championship game.

In the sports news category, Haskell was highlighted for his story on Waldoboro native Robert Gomez, who, in an amazing example of sportsmanship, stopped to help another runner across the finish line of the Beach to Beacon 10K. Haskell's third-place award in the same category came on a new pitch count for high school baseball pitchers. The judge wrote: "Good insight on pros and cons of the change."

Vanorse Spicer was highlighted for her story on a young female drag racer. The judge wrote: "Very good profile of 11-year-old drag racer known as 'Hurricane Haley."

Miller was recognized for his story on Medomak Valley High School state wrestling champion Eli Miller. The judge wrote: "Perfect lead for this story, which pulls readers into the mind and motivations of a state champion wrestler. Well done!"

Vanorse Spicer drew kudos from judges for her columns. The judge wrote: "Excellent columns with plenty of columnist's heart and soul. I also LOVED photo of Holly running while pushing stroller containing her snoozing two-year-old."

Waltz was honored twice for page layouts. The judge wrote: "A nice balance of text and images. The page doesn't overwhelm the reader. Good play of action photos."

The sports staff was spotlighted as the best weekly sports section in the state. The judge wrote: "Tops in the category. Comprehensive sports coverage and presented in an organized, attractive manner to the reader. Thorough and well-planned. Good work!"

The Camden Herald

Miller, first place, sports video; Waltz, second place, game story; and Vanorse Spicer, first place, sports columnist.

Miller won for a compelling, heartbreaking and heartwarming story on the struggles of a young man, Brian Fitzpatrick, who deals with illness.

Waltz was recognized for a story on the two-time state Class A champion Camden Hills girls soccer team.

The Republican Journal

Haskell, first place, sports photo; Haskell, first place, game story; Haskell and Waltz, first place, sports profile; Waltz, third place, sports profile; and Waltz, first and second place, sports page design.

Haskell's award-winning photo was a Belfast Area High School baseball player making a diving attempt to catch the ball in the outfield. The judge wrote: "This one jumped out immediately. The photographer was ready for this and it shows. I like the focus being on the team name with everything in motion. The diagonal makes for an interesting composition and the player's expression show it all! Amazing!"

Haskell won best game story for his words on the Searsport District High School baseball team, which won its third straight state Class D championship.

Haskell and Waltz were highlighted for a story on former Belfast Area High School wrestling coach Ted Heroux. In the same category, Waltz was honored for his story on the resurgence of the Mount View High School girls soccer team.

Waltz earned a pat on the back for his sports page layouts. The judge wrote: "Great layout and good coverage of multiple stories … Draws the eye to each story."

Courier Publications' sports staff can be reached by email at or by phone at 594-4401.