SKOWHEGAN – For more than 20 years, there has been no doubt who is in charge at Skowhegan boys basketball practices. His voice resonates throughout the gym, barking orders at players, but also offering words of encouragement aided with a laugh.
“Top man,” Robert Godin, one of the team’s manager, proclaims about himself. “I’m the top, top man.”
All of this is in good fun of course. Godin actually shares manager duties with his friend, the far less vocal John Domareki. And they’re known within the community for having a distinct title.
“Skowhegan’s biggest fans,” Robert’s father Fred said with a laugh. “If you want to put it that way.”
Domareki and Godin have been on the Skowhegan sidelines for more than 20 years each, a testament to their determination. Domareki was born with Down Syndrome, while Godin has an intellectual disability. But what may be setbacks for some have been hurdled easily by these two.
“The athletes and everybody just like being around them and I don’t know, I can’t explain it,” Fred said.
The answer lays within their attitudes.
“They’re a great motivator,” head coach Tom Nadeau said. “They remind the boys when they mess up on a regular basis. And when they need to do better and work hard.” And players, like Cam Barnes, are reminded of that.
“If you don’t play well, Robbie’s on your shoulder, like, ‘you gotta make that shot!'”
While Domareki is more subdued, he has a deep appreciation for the friendship that exists between he and Robert.
“Me and Robbie are the best friends we’ve ever had,” he said. “How many years? Thirty years.”
The two, who are also involved in other sports at Skowhegan, are heavily invested in the Indians’ success this year. They’re well aware of what is ahead for Skowhegan as the tournament gets underway.
“We already beat Medomak before,” Robert said. And we already beat Nokomis twice. If we can win those two, then we can send us back that way for another title.”
And both indicated they are especially interested to see how Nadeau chases his first ever gold ball.
“It would be his first time at States. And that would make me and Johnny D so happy,” Robert said. “And I’m going to be the one walking out the door with it.”