Yarmouth Clippers Spring Athletes of the Year

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BRADEN BECKER, Senior—Tennis

  • WMC all-star, first-team

Becker was a top performer for a Yarmouth team which was second best in its region this spring.

Becker has been best known in high school as one of the state’s premier Nordic skiers (he also ran cross country in the fall), but he’s been pretty impressive on the tennis court as well. Becker started playing tennis at a young age, was a four-year member of the varsity team and moved into the top singles spot as a junior.

This spring, playing in the state’s best conference, Becker lost only to standouts Gabe Torres of Class B champion Cape Elizabeth, Justin Brogan of Class A champion Falmouth and Isaac Salas of Class C champion Waynflete.

He dispatched everyone else.

In the state singles tournament, Becker made it all the way to the round of 16, where he was ousted by Salas.

Yarmouth, which won one match in 2013, then made a run all the way to the Western B Final before losing to Cape Elizabeth and Becker was a large reason why. He was the difference in a quarterfinal round win over Freeport and delivered the decisive point in a semifinal round nailbiter over Morse.

It was an awesome senior season,” Becker said. “Tennis is a very different sport for me. It’s so relaxed. There’s not as much individual pressure. I’m pretty competitive and tennis fuels my passion. I’ve had amazing coaches at Yarmouth and I owe a lot to my family for being supportive.”

Becker, who was also a part of a highly successful Robotics team at Yarmouth, is going to spend a postgraduate year in Sun Valley, Idaho, where he’ll continue to hone his skiing skills. Then, Becker plans to attend Williams College in Massachusetts, where he’ll compete on the Nordic trails at a top level.

After a superb high school career as a top student-athlete, there figures to be even more success in his future. Braden Becker, Yarmouth’s Spring Male Athlete of the Year, said goodbye to high school with a tremendous season which helped restore a proud program to greatness.

Coach Mark Marstaller’s comment: Braden is a wonderful, competitive athlete. In our league, players have a rough time playing number one singles when they do not play tennis year-round. Braden is a great three-sport athlete. Last year, Braden had a difficult time playing number one for our team, but this year, he had more poise and controlled his games against several opponents that he would have had a hard time against last year. He developed a great inside-out forehand that then set up his next shot either crosscourt or down the line. After our practices this year, Braden would often stay behind and hit with either his brother Henry, or other players, helping them to develop. He would also play doubles during practice to allow my doubles teams to practice against stronger opponents to simulate our matches against more difficult teams.”

Previous winners:

2013 Ben Decker (tennis)

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)


GRACE O’DONNELL, Senior-Lacrosse

  • All-American, honorable mention

  • WMC all-star, first-team, attack

  • Senior all-star

  • Captain

O’Donnell put the Clippers on her back and in her nonpareil style, left no doubt she was the state’s finest girls’ lacrosse player, doing everything it took to make sure she graduated with a coveted championship.

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 state title. She played a bigger role as a sophomore and as a junior, entered the upper echelon by scoring 30 goals and adding 17 assists in being named Yarmouth’s Spring Female Athlete of the Year.

Prior to the start of her senior season, O’Donnell committed to Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., allowing her focus solely on lacrosse and she and her teammates enjoyed a memorable campaign.

Yarmouth was upset by Scarborough in the opener (O’Donnell scored twice) and there were whispers that perhaps the Clippers were overrated, but they answered such doubt with an emphatic win over two-time defending champion Waynflete, as O’Donnell had four goals and two assists. She had two goals and a pair of assists in a come-from-behind win over Greely, tallied six goals with two assists in a one-sided win at Freeport, which gave coach Dorothy Holt her 100th career victory and scored five times at Gould.

The next time out, at Kennebunk, Yarmouth couldn’t hold a halftime lead and saw the host Rams rally to tie, but with the game on the line, O’Donnell scored three consecutive clutch goals to spell the difference. She finished with four goals and an assist. O’Donnell scored three more times against Cape Elizabeth, then erupted for a season-best eight against NYA. She scored six more against Falmouth, had three (including the winner in overtime) at Waynflete and had four more against Brunswick.

O’Donnell would score 13 more goals in the playoffs, as Yarmouth went on to win the title.

The road to the championship wasn’t easy, however. O’Donnell had two goals and two assists in a come-from-behind win over NYA in the semifinals, then had five goals in a regional final victory over Freeport, as again, the Clippers had to rally. The state game would be a different story, however, as Yarmouth led from start to finish and beat Cape Elizabeth, 13-10, with O’Donnell scoring six times, tying Emily Johnson for program honors in a state game.

It was an incredible experience all season,” O’Donnell said. “We had good senior leadership and the underclassmen were willing to put in the effort. I loved my teammates and our camaraderie. As a freshman, I saw that the seniors were willing to mentor and be kind and show us what Yarmouth lacrosse was about. I got to give that back this year.”

For the season, O’Donnell scored 62 goals and had 17 assists. She collected 38 ground balls and won 53 draws. She also caused 18 turnovers.

For her career, O’Donnell finished with triple digits in goals (106), had 47 assists, 78 ground balls and 88 draw controls.

O’Donnell received her share of postseason honors, including All-American honorable mention.

O’Donnell, who also played varsity basketball in high school, was a member of Class Council and Science Olympiad and plays the flute in the Portland Wind Ensemble.

Lacrosse, at its best, is a game of beauty and yes, grace and fittingly, no one exemplified those attributes on the field more this season than Grace O’Donnell, the state’s finest player and Yarmouth’s repeat selection as Spring Female Athlete of the Year. There have been many star Clippers over the years, but O’Donnell is right at the top of that pantheon.

Coach Dorothy Holt’s comment: “Grace really exemplifies what an unselfish, team player is all about. I’ve been lucky enough to have many great players. Grace brings a sense of calm I’ve never seen before. If she gets flustered, it’s with herself. She’s the most dedicated student-athlete. She can calm each individual player. It takes a special person to realize they need that kind of attention from her. She carries herself in a way that you can’t coach. It was pretty cool to watch.

Previous winners:

2013 Grace O’Donnell (lacrosse)

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.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.