RUMFORD — There comes a time when reaching goals takes challenging steps.
Sadie James realized last year that to achieve what she wanted as a student and an athlete, she needed to step out of her comfort zone. That ultimately meant leaving Mt. Abram High School and transferring to Gould Academy in Bethel.
“Last year, I was thinking about my future and I knew that if I wanted to make moves for my skiing and for academics that Gould would be the right place,” James said. “I looked at some other ski schools, but Gould was the perfect balance between academics and training.”
It wasn’t an easy decision for James. In three years at Mt. Abram she established herself as one of the state’s top Nordic skiiers and cross country and track and field runners. Making such a change would be a challenge in and of itself.
“It was and still is a little weird being at a new school my senior year,” said James. “It’s crazy not being with my Mt. Abram team, but the good thing about skiing is that I see them at races. I see them all winter, and I keep in touch with them.”
James credits Mt. Abram for helping her get as far as she has. She says she wouldn’t be at this point in her career without the help of the school, teammates and coaches.
“Buzz and Sally (Bean) are two of the most amazing coaches I’ve ever had, and I absolutely love them,” said James. “They did everything they possibly could. They taught me so much. I learned so much from them, but it was time for me to go.”
The transition for James has been intense and rewarding. It has not only pushed her as a student but also as an athlete.
She estimates having about two hours of practice on snow each day and works with three different coaches.
The counsilors at Gould have even helped her make her college choice. She’s planning to run and ski for Bates next year.
“The ski teams and the track teams were so nice and so welcoming,” said James. “I’m so happy that I’ll be there next year.”
James had looked at schools such as Colby, Bowdoin, St. Lawrence and Middlebury and was even considering Vermont and New Hampshire. She met the coaches at Bates, did an interview and a tour of the school and was quickly convinced it was the right place for her.
“I just felt a click with Bates,” said James. “Everything about it seemed absolutely perfect for me. I could totally see myself there.”
Coming off a second straight win at the Sassi Memorial Classic Saturday, James is now gearing up for the state championships next month. Another goal in her sights is to compete in the USSA Junior Nationals in Fairbanks, Alaska, in March.
James feels she is right on target for all of her goals and that her move to Gould this year helped prepare her for those challenges ahead.
“I’m really happy I’m here,” said James, who had numerous MVC championships to her credit in cross country as well as second and third place finishes in the Class C states at Mt. Abram. “It’s such a good bridge between high school and Bates next year. I don’t know what the change would have been like if I went from Mt. Abram to Bates next year.”