Editor's note: Fryeburg Academy senior Kaylee Emery was the keynote speaker at the school's annual fall sports awards night on Nov. 12.
By Kaylee Emery
Class of 2020
“If you had asked me after my first day of field hockey preseason way back in 2016 what athletics had taught me so far, it is likely that I would have responded with “double sessions are brutal;” however, standing before you now I can confidently say that during my time as a Fryeburg Academy athlete I have created some of my fondest memories and learned many important life lessons.
“Throughout my four years at FA I have played field hockey, basketball and softball. I couldn’t quite possibly choose a favorite because each season is unique, as are the lessons they provide. Going 0-18 in basketball was a very different experience than playing in the state championship game for softball. But I learned just as much, if not more, from that losing season as I did from winning a regional title.
“Most importantly, I learned to let go of the things that were out of my control — the refs, the crowd, the playing conditions — and instead to focus on what I was able to control: my attitude, effort and work ethic. No matter what the scoreboard says, be grateful that you have the ability to compete, to play hard, to step onto the track or court or field with your teammates because when it’s all over, you don’t get it back.
“Improving from 0-18 to 5-13 the next year taught me the importance of celebrating little victories.
“Depending on how you look at it, losing can sometimes be rewarding, too. Advancing to the Expo after not even making it to playoffs the previous season was equivalent to winning a state championship in the eyes of my basketball team. Regardless of the outcome we made progress and to us, that was all that mattered. Years from now, I know I won’t remember the times of defeat, instead I will reminisce about the happy memories during my time here at FA.
Above all, athletics has prepared me for the ‘real world.’ First, it has taught me accountability. I have been held accountable by my coaches in many different ways: to show up to practice with a positive attitude, to be a selfless, supportive teammate regardless of personal issues, to manage academics and extracurriculars and to set aside everything else come game time.
“I also learned the value in being a good teammate.The past two seasons I was put in a position of leading my teammates from the sideline, which was not something that I was used to. However, it was in this new position that I realized the important role every single player has regardless of their playtime. Whether it be playing the entire game, entering for a few minutes, filling up water bottles or even keeping the scorebook — every role is critical to the overall success of a team. Because the greatest teammates, as my softball coach says, always puts the team before themselves.
“Win or lose it is important to remember that you go through it together, as one. In a close game you have your teammates to depend upon, after a loss you have them to confide in and after a win they are the ones you can celebrate with.
Before I end, I would like to thank all of my coaches (including Coach Brylie Walker) for sacrificing countless hours to make my teammates and I the best we can be, my parents for supporting me throughout the ups and downs and my sister, Brooke, and brother, Zack, for being by my side when I need them the most. Thank you to all of my teammates for always having my back no matter what. You have all become some of my best friends and I am certain that the memories we have shared will stay with us for a majority, if not the rest of our lives.
“To my fellow athletes, I leave you with this. Eventually you won’t have the long bus rides to York, double sessions with Brylie and her killer workouts or spaghetti dinners before playoffs. Eventually you are going to put your navy blue and white uniform on one last time. So I encourage you to train hard. Cherish every practice. Focus on what you can control and don’t dwell on the things you can’t. Celebrate little victories. Be a great teammate. And as my field hockey coach says, ‘play for the love of the game.’ Before you know it, you won’t be an athlete anymore. You will just have the memories of one.”