Thornton Academy Athletics in the recent past have been decorated with state championship rings, championship finalists, and dozens of playoff spots. Athletes are consistently featured in the press for their achievements and as individuals to “watch”. This week we sat down with Coach Lori Roth Smith ’88 and Taylor Ouellette ’18 to learn more about the inner-workings of Thornton’s Girls Varsity Field Hockey team.
Coach Lori Smith has been the head coach of the team for 16 consecutive years and coaching for a total of 22 years and shared some insights as a coach on team traditions. One tradition the team has is an annual retreat in August at Camp Laughing Loon. The camp is perfect to use for hill sprints and the lodge gives a sheltered space for core workouts. It also gives the team the opportunity to set their goals and culture for the season. Since the team evolves each year, it gives the girls the opportunity to set shared goals and expectations for the season. One team leader who helps to set goals for the season is Taylor Ouellette.
Taylor Ouellette is a senior captain and has been featured in the Portland Press Herald as a player to watch, received Honorable Mention for Player of the Week, and has been awarded the Play of the Week in an online voting forum. Ouellette and Smith talked about some traditions the team has that help to maintain a close bond, including Smith’s own Player of the Game award.
Above: Coach Smith awards players with her own "Player of the Game" sticker after games.
Coach Smith and Ouellette both said that at each home game, an inspirational quote is printed off by Coach Smith for each girl on the team and one players reads it out loud before the game begins. Following the reading of the quote, the girls kiss it and tuck it into their uniform over their hearts for the game. Coach Smith also awards one player with a “Player of the Game” sticker to commend a game well played.
Ouellette discussed another team tradition: the spirit stick. The spirit stick is shared with both the JV and Varsity teams the day of a home game. Each member of the teams takes a turn carrying it over the course of the day; no player is to touch it twice and it can only be touched by a member of the team.
“It (spirit stick passing) is a mental thing with sentimental value. This is my fourth year on the team. I feel like if I don’t touch it (the spirit stick), or if someone touches it twice, something might happen,” Ouellette shared with a smile.
At the state championship game in 2015, the team forgot their spirit stick in Southern Maine as they travelled up to Orono, Maine. In that game, the team fought hard but lost.
“We lost, but we were so excited because we did something that had never been done before at TA,” Ouellette said. She is referencing the fact that no Thornton Field Hockey team had ever made it to states in the history of the program.
The Thornton Academy Field Hockey Spirit Stick may only be held by team members!
Another beloved tradition is team hair braiding. Currently, sophomore Jaigan Boudreau is the team’s designated “braider”. Ouellette says, “I usually have a ponytail with seven tiny braids. Sometimes I have a braid coming down the center of my head with a braid coming up the back center and pull it all into a ponytail. This year’s trend is definitely space buns with braids.”
Above: Grace Harbor, Cat Henaire, Tori Labbe, and Alexis Stone
In closing, Ouellette says, “this should be an exciting year. It is all a matter of the team clicking together and we will do well.”