Yarmouth High senior Patrick Bergen has been a member of the school’s student senate since his freshman year, and is one of the top 15 high school Nordic skiers in the state, according to his coach. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Yarmouth High senior Patrick Bergen, 17, is not the fastest Nordic skier. Rather like many other high school athletes he has become a key component of his team through effort and attention to his craft.

“He’s gone from being a back-of-the-pack finisher, finishing 50th of 63 in (Class B) states as a freshman to one of the top 15 statewide,” said Yarmouth Coach Dylan Thombs.

On Feb. 20 at the Sassi 5K Classical, against top prep and public school skiers, Bergen was 13th overall, fourth among his team. Bergen, a top-tier student in his class, also sails competitively, plays baseball in the spring, and is a four-year member of the Yarmouth student senate. He recently explained when his grueling sport can be fun, the shortfalls of a senior season in a pandemic, and the new club sport he’s introduced at Yarmouth High that is quickly gaining a strong following.

Q: How would you describe yourself as a Nordic skier when you were a freshman?

A: Transitioning from the middle school team to the high school team is definitely a big change. … Especially going against seniors who were much faster and better than I was. It kind of kick-started me and helped me get faster, much quicker, and it was a great experience my freshman year because that was the last year of Bob Morse coaching at Yarmouth. It was great to have him as a coach for even one year.

Q: Now your coach Dylan Thombs says you’re a top-15 skier statewide. What does that improvement mean to you?

A: I’m really proud of it. Nordic skiing has become a much bigger part of my life and become something I love doing in the winter and since freshman year I’ve put in a lot of time and a lot of work and I’ve really cared about how I’ve performed in races so it’s great to see some of that work paying off my senior year and it’s great to see the rest of the team do well as well. It’s definitely great to see that improvement over time. I’m pretty proud of that.

Q: In this pandemic season, Nordic races are being held with skiers from several schools. Is your sport among the most normal this year?

A: Hmm, it’s definitely been a season flipped upside down. I don’t know how normal it can be. I think we’ve made the best of it, but obviously with as big a team as Yarmouth has this year (over 40 boys and girls combined), there’s had to be an added layer of staying distant, staying separate when busing, and waxing. Overall, it’s been a strange senior year. The team hasn’t been able to get to know each other as much as an ordinary season.

Q: Nordic skiing, when you’re racing, looks like it can be pretty darn grueling. Can it be fun?

A: It’s definitely grueling. It’s exhausting out on the race course. I wouldn’t say I’m having much fun by the end of five kilometers of racing but it’s all worth it to finish and do well, like any other sport. It’s definitely an endurance sport and kind of a mentality, too, to push through and have some grit, especially when things are slow. It’s harder this year, especially with masks. I do think our team has done a great job keeping our masks on.

Q: Still, there must be times when you get in a groove and you can feel yourself going fast.

A: That’s what makes racing fun. When you feel like you’re moving up a hill quickly and you’re doing everything right and your technique is still strong. I think that sense of having a groove also comes with preparedness, having good wax and good kick in classical races. That comes with preparations from the day before. … Thinking ahead. Races are definitely most fun when you put in the work the days before.

Q: Do you participate in any academic clubs.

A: I have been a member of the student senate for the past four years. That’s an every week commitment and it’s been fun as well. And, I am one of the leaders of the Spikeball Club at Yarmouth.

Q: Spikeball Club? What is that?

A: It’s based on a pretty fun, pretty popular, pretty informal game. It’s a game with four players, two teams of two. It’s hard to describe. It’s sort of a mix of volleyball and other sports. A few friends of mine, we’d been playing and enjoying it on our own and we had the idea of starting a club and see how many people were interested and having fun with maybe the eventual goal of playing against other high school clubs like Greely and Falmouth. That hasn’t come to fruition this year with COVID concerns but hopefully this spring with things looking up we can get going again. There’s a ton of interest this year. So I’m super excited for spikeball.

(Spikeball is played by striking a plastic bouncy ball slightly larger than a softball off a 3-foot diameter trampoline, with each team having up to three touches to get the ball returned off the trampoline mat.)

Q: Now you get the question every senior dreads. What’s your plans for next year?

A: I’m waiting on college decisions right now. There are a few schools I’m still waiting on. Hopefully wherever I choose to go, it will be an in-person and typical college experience in contrast to being back online for another fall.


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