Cape Elizabeth’s Nick Laughlin plays football, lacrosse and hockey in the summer. For high school athletes, who play multiple sports, the summer months can be hectic. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Those lazy days of summer of yesteryear? They’re not happening for multi-sport high school athletes.

“I would say summer is probably my busiest time of the year because I’m traveling so much,” said Ella Wilcox, 16, who will be a senior at Windham High.

Wilcox is a member of her high school field hockey, swim and softball teams and plays for her dad Fred’s New England Elite softball team, which already this summer has made trips to Virginia and New Jersey.

“Every day of the week is different,” Ella Wilcox said, but nearly every day includes some sort of athletic activity. She had two field hockey practices on Tuesday and another on Thursday, a club softball practice on Wednesday, regular stints in the batting cage to practice her hitting and softball tournaments on the weekend. Already verbally committed to play softball at Colby College, Wilcox is also taking a college course.

For the multi-sport athlete, going from field, to diamond, to gym or rink is the way they choose to spend their summers.

“Oh, I love it,” Wilcox said.


“I love sports and all my friends are on all my teams,” said Nick Laughlin, 17, who will be a senior at Cape Elizabeth where he plays football, hockey and lacrosse. “It doesn’t really feel like a chore. It’s more just like having fun.”

Kam Douin, who will be a senior at Cony High in Augusta, played four varsity high school sports last season: soccer, football as the team’s kicker, basketball and baseball. So the 6-foot-3 athlete – who excelled this spring as a left-handed pitcher and is playing both American Legion and club baseball with the Maine Lightning – is also a top student. So he’s used to a busy schedule.

But there was one day this summer where squeezing everything in left even Douin tired out.

His day started with Cony’s new conditioning and weight-training program open to all the school’s athletes from 8-10 a.m.

“So one day I went to that and then I drove myself to (the University of New England) to go to a football kicking clinic,” Douin said. “So that was an hour and 15-minute drive. Went to that at like 1 in the afternoon and then drove to Oxford Hills for an American Legion game at 5. I got home and just fell into bed.”



Coaches do worry that they may be asking too much of their athletes. But, the high school coach knows summer workouts lead to in-season success and the local athletes who aren’t playing club sports would lose out on training. Plus, summer is a great time to introduce incoming players to a program in a low-stress environment.

“Are we giving kids enough break? I do wonder about that,” said Deb Lebel, coach of Windham High’s reigning Class A champion girls’ soccer team. “But you can try to do that but the other schools aren’t going to. That’s why I try to keep ours pretty light.”

The keys to meeting the varied demands are communication between players and coaches when conflicts arise, and for athletes to prioritize their sports.

“The first week of the summer, only baseball is playing. Then football starts. Then hockey starts. Then basketball starts twice a week,” said Mike Rutherford, the Portland High baseball coach. “And then you have the AAU baseball and all the other club stuff. Kids are being pulled quite a few places.”

Rutherford, also an assistant football coach, said he purposely builds his summer baseball schedule to avoid conflicts with Portland High’s basketball and football practices. Still, players will inevitably have to make choices.

“Just let me know. You’re going to basketball? That’s fine. You’re going to hockey? That’s fine. Going on vacation? Fine. I just need to know. I don’t want to show up for a (baseball) game and have eight players,” Rutherford said.


For Laughlin, an all-state wide receiver on Cape’s Class C champion football team, football comes first. His weekends have been filled with going to prospect camps at colleges across New England and three days a week he joins the Cape team for its summer practices and 7-on-7 games. He tries to squeeze in as many hockey workouts as possible. He’s also working as a cook at a local ice cream/burger joint. Lacrosse takes a back seat other than occasionally playing some catch with friends.

“I mean there’s definitely been days where I don’t want to get out of bed and go to (football) practice at 7 a.m., but you just have to do it,” Laughlin said. “It’s always better in the long run. Plus, you kind of feel accomplished at the end of the day.”

Stella Jarvais, 15, a sophomore at Windham High school, poses at her home with some of her summer tools. She plays three sports – softball, soccer and basketball – with softball at the top of her list. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer


For older athletes like Wilcox, Laughlin and Douin, being able to drive themselves helps ease the logistical burden.

Stella Jarvais, 15, doesn’t have that luxury. Jarvais will be a sophomore at Windham after a freshman year when she was an all-SMAA choice in both soccer and softball and played varsity basketball. Her summer also includes playing for the Maine Thunder club softball team.

“For rides, I rely on my teammates just because I’m able to to get more of a bond with them,” Jarvais said.


This summer, Jarvais put softball at the top of her list. That takes up her weekends. Mondays and Wednesday nights were for soccer, Tuesday and Thursdays were basketball practices and games which, together typically ran from 2-7 p.m. She also volunteered on Monday and Wednesday mornings to help run the Windham youth basketball camps, which she used to attend as a camper.

“It keeps me scheduled and active and it’s obviously important to stay active for me,” Jarvais said. “But it’s hard sometimes, especially mentally when I need a break, and physically when my body shuts down a little bit.”

Jarvais said she saw first hand the value of getting high school teams together in the summer as an incoming freshman. By the time the school year arrived, she already felt comfortable around her older teammates.

“It’s an opportunity to try new things, build chemistry, without the added pressure of schoolwork and the stress of winning,” Jarvais said. “Lebel and (basketball) Coach (Brody) Artes want us to get our skills back before the season but they also want us to play together and build that bond.”

Getting in a rest day is important.

Spectators sit in the stands at Cape Elizabeth High School’s Hanford Field for 7-on-7 football games between South Portland, Bonny Eagle and Cape Elizabeth on Friday. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Chantelle Bouchard, 18, graduated from Biddeford High this spring where she played basketball and was a Varsity Maine all-state catcher for the Class A state champion softball team. Last summer she was playing or practicing softball five days a week, basketball a couple days a week, and getting in her own personal strength and conditioning to recover from two knee surgeries.


“Mondays are where I drew the line,” Bouchard said. “I would try to take one day completely off. But, it usually didn’t work out too well.”

Bouchard believes she benefited from the busy schedule, learning time management skills, and understanding the need to balance sport, social and academic interests. She’s applying those skills this summer prior to attending St. Joseph’s College. Bouchard is still playing club softball with New England Elite while also working part-time as a certified nursing assistant at Maine Med.

All high school coaches are mandated by the Maine Principals’ Association to halt their organized summer activities for the two weeks prior to the start of fall preseason practices. The moratorium does not apply to club sports but it does provide some needed weekday relief. For players and coaches.

“I think that two-week hands-off is good for everybody. I know it’s good for me,” said Sean Green, Cape Elizabeth’s football coach. “But you know how it is, these kids are committed. I’ll guarantee you our kids will have a couple captains’ practices for football and I wouldn’t be shocked if it’s the same for every other sport.”

Laughlin confirmed that, yes, Cape football will likely have some low-key captains’ practices but he is looking forward to relaxing a bit.

“Go somewhere with the family or something. It’s always nice.”

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