News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, October 4, 2018
Homecoming a time of reunion for alumni

MMA homecoming 2018

First year regimental students, known as MUGs, cheer on the home team from their own designated section during the Maine Maritime Academy homecoming football game against Worcester Polytechnic Institute on September 29.

Photo by Monique Labbe Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Monique Labbe

For many alumni who return to celebrate homecoming at Maine Maritime Academy, the weekend feels like coming home.

Such was the case for Class of 1993 graduate Michael Tolley, who came back for this year’s homecoming weekend, his first time back at the academy in 25 years.

“It’s an incredible feeling to be here again,” said Tolley before kickoff of the homecoming football game on September 29. “Seeing all these guys again, these are my brothers. It’s pretty emotional.”

Tolley has spent most of his life at sea following his graduation from Maine Maritime, including time spent in the Marines. He has been a Columbia River Bar pilot for the last few years and resides on the west coast in Oregon. During his time at sea he has been a part of a Syrian refugee rescue, two pirate attacks, and a host of other events. Tolley said that the leadership skills he learned at Maine Maritime Academy helped guide him in the experiences he has had.

“I took so much away from the academy, they gave me so much, and it’s great to be able to use the things I learned here in my life now,” said Tolley.

For fellow Class of 1993 graduate Fred Berry, who lives in Penobscot, coming back to campus with his fellow classmates means reliving a part of life still deeply ingrained in his memories.

“Every single corner of this campus has a story to tell,” said Berry. “The experiences we had here and hold with us are very, very rich.”

While renovations and additions have changed the campus over the years, both Tolley and Berry said one thing they love about the town of Castine is that it has not changed since they were in school.

“You drive down Main Street and the buildings are the same, they just have different [business] names,” said Berry. “Dennett’s Wharf is now The Wharf, The Reef is now Danny Murphy’s. But the town itself hasn’t changed.”

Other changes have included the addition of non regimental programs, something Tolley said was a “really smart” way to attract more students.

“My heart is with the regiment, because that was what I knew when I was here, but I think all of us support both the regimental and non-regimental students,” added Berry. “We’re all family here.”