By Matt Pascarella
Anne Blake loves her job. She has been a physical therapist for RSU14 for eleven years and has been working in some form of physical therapy for over thirty years. She, along with assistant coach Brittany Taylor, coach the Unified basketball team at Windham High School. Blake also runs the adaptive swim program and, coaches the special Olympics track and field in April, taking student athletes up for the state Special Olympic games in Orono.
As a physical therapist, she works with students who need special requirements to access the school environment. Blake’s job is to figure out how to help or make these students stronger, give them more endurance, better balance, or provide assistance in some way to make the school environment easier for them.
Blake started doing physical therapy in Boston in acute care hospitals and rehabilitation centers. In addition to acute care and rehabilitation, she has also done nursing home care. “I’ve done the whole gamut. I’ve loved it all,” she said.
Her goal as an educator is to take students who may need some extra help and turn those students’ statements of “I can’t, I can’t” into a statement of “yes, I can.” She believes basketball has been an excellent avenue for this. Students may not think they could do something but now they’re on the court scoring baskets. “The biggest thing is to give them the confidence and show them they can do more than they think they can and where their potential really lies.”
Blake got into coaching as a volunteer for the Special Olympics. Windham’s athletic director, Rich Drummond, saw how well Blake was working with the student athletes and asked if she’d like to be a coach for the Unified basketball team. She is very knowledgeable of the student’s needs and has a love for the students that is obvious if you only observe her interacting with them.
The most important lesson she wants her players to walk away with at the end of a season is ‘I did my best and I had fun.’
Blake, a Windham resident and graduate of the University of New England, has two boys in college. She loves the outdoors, whether it’s paddle boarding, biking, walking or just being outside, she enjoys taking in all that Maine has to offer.