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Yarmouth Clippers Spring Athletes of the Year

Sports

Yarmouth Clippers Spring Athletes of the Year

MALE

BEN DECKER, Junior—Track

  • WMC all-star, first-team, mile

Decker was one of the top distance runners in the conference and the state, not a surprise considering his talent and work ethic, something which was also reflected in the classroom.

Decker came naturally to running, as his father, Byrne, is one of the top distance standouts in the area (having won the Maine Marathon and finished near the top of the Maine Masters men's division at the Beach to Beacon). Ben Decker focused more on soccer growing up, running to keep in shape, but he's grown to love the sport in its own right and has emerged as a star, both indoors and out.

Decker came in fourth outdoors in the two-mile as a sophomore. Indoors this past winter, he placed runner-up in the two-mile, setting the stage for a strong spring campaign.

Decker thrived on consistency this season and by late May was primed for the biggest meets. At the WMC championships, Decker won the mile with a time of 4 minutes, 40.69 seconds. At states, he finished second in the Class B two-mile (9:47.24).

In spite of his strong showings, Decker still wants more.

"I haven't reached where I want to be," Decker said. "I love to compete. I love to challenge myself. That's the great thing about running."

Decker runs year round and competes in road races. He also mentors elementary school students, does community service through his church and is interested in drama. He hopes to win a soccer team title and a track individual crown as a senior. He also aims to run in college at a NESCAC institution.

Don't bet against this young man, who's only getting better. Ben Decker, Yarmouth's Spring Male Athlete of the Year, is as well-rounded an athlete you'll find, but he's also a hardcore competitor.

Coach Hank Richards' comment: "Ben was a quiet leader for the team. His work ethic was second-to-none and he was a leader by example for our younger runners. (Distance) coach (John) Rogers did an outstanding job making sure Ben peaked at the right time. Every meet we knew we could depend on Ben to not only compete but to score. He was harder on himself than anyone because he set the bar so high. He was a true competitor in every fashion and represented Yarmouth extremely well on the track and in the classroom. We are looking forward to his senior year as Ben continues to grow as a student/athlete."

Previous winners:

2012: Bryce Snyder (baseball)

2011: Campbell Belisle-Haley (baseball)

2010: Nick Whittaker (baseball)

2009: Rob Highland (lacrosse)

2008: Robb Arndt (baseball)

2007: Jon Poole (lacrosse)

2006: Hans Tobiason (lacrosse)

2005: Chris Hichborn (lacrosse)

2004: Jon Miller (lacrosse)

2003: Jared Harriman (lacrosse)

2002: Tim Kjeldgaard (lacrosse)

FEMALE

GRACE O'DONNELL, Junior-Lacrosse

  • WMC all-star, first-team, attack

O'Donnell was a goal scoring phenomenon this spring, saving her best for the biggest games, and she helped the Clippers return to the state final while serving notice that she and her team will be even stronger next year.

O'Donnell grew up in Yarmouth, started playing lacrosse in the third grade and was on the varsity team as a freshman when the Clippers won the Class B state title.

She played a bigger role as a sophomore and this season, really made opposing coaches take notice with her penchant for producing at key times.

O'Donnell scored 30 goals this spring, added 17 assists and was also effective in the draw circle (winning 22 times), on ground balls (collecting 24) and on defense (causing 19 turnovers).

Highlights were plentiful. O'Donnell, whose athleticism and bright red headband helped her stand out, had two goals in a thrilling come-from-behind win at three-time defending Class A champion Scarborough, which created some early confidence. She scored four times against Falmouth, had four more versus Wells, then scored four times to help Yarmouth shock host Cape Elizabeth. O'Donnell had five goals, two assists and nine ground balls in a loss to Gorham, scored twice in a loss to York, three times against Waynflete and closed the regular season with seven goals, two assists and eight ground balls in a close loss to Cape Elizabeth.

After falling short of the state game a year ago, Yarmouth was bound and determined to make it to the final Saturday this spring and did so, with O'Donnell playing a huge role.

In a semifinal round victory over Freeport, which avenged last year's gutwrenching loss, O'Donnell had a team-high three goals, including the one which tied the score in the second half, also had an assist, won four draws and collected six ground balls. She then erupted for eight goals and four assists in a regional final victory over Morse. In the state final versus Waynflete, where the Clippers gave the Flyers a mighty scare, O'Donnell scored once, won eight of 13 draws and finished with seven ground balls.

It was the people around me,” said O'Donnell, deflecting praise. “We had a supportive team. We set the goal of making it to states. We had so many scorers. We were unselfish. It's hard to shut us down.”

O'Donnell was named to the all-conference first-team and will enter her senior year as one of the finest players in the state, one who could find herself on the All-American list if she continues her strong play.

O'Donnell, who also plays varsity basketball, qualified for the Maine team, competes on the Maineiax premier team, plays the flute, is a member of Yarmouth's Class Council and enjoys working with younger players. She wants to play in college and has participated in showcase events.

She'll be even more in demand after her marvelous season. Grace O'Donnell, Yarmouth's Spring Female Athlete of the Year, made excellence look easy and is primed for a memorable final act.

Coach Dorothy Holt's comment: Grace is a very driven team player. She pushes herself to perform to a higher level each time she steps on the field, whether in a game or at a practice. Her teamwork is extraordinary. She is a worker bee and it makes everyone around her work as hard. She is a pleasure to coach and anyone would be lucky to have her on their team."

Previous winners:

2012: Hannah Potter (tennis)

2011: Danielle Torres (lacrosse)

2010: Danielle Torres (lacrosse)

2009: Haley Knaub (track)

2008: Nicole Grover (lacrosse)

2007: Laurie Baker (lacrosse)

2006: Emily Johnson (lacrosse)

2005: Chrissie Attura (lacrosse)

2004: Louise Taylor (tennis)

2003: Louise Taylor (tennis)

2002: Christine Clancy (tennis)

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.