TURNER —The way Maddie Wiegman sees it, she's just carrying on a tradition, passing on what had been passed on to her, promoting a culture that served Leavitt Nordic skiing well before she got there and, with her help, will live on long after she's gone.
But few athletes in an individual sport put team above self the way the Leavitt senior does. Last February, when Wiegman helped clinch the Class A state Nordic title for the Hornets by winning the classical race, she downplayed her own accomplishment, her first individual state title, and reveled in the team's victory.
"She makes Nordic skiing a team sport," Leavitt coach Dustin Williamson said. "I know she was happy about her win last year, but she was happier about the team's win."
"The team is more like a family here," Wiegman said. "You just always want to do the best for everyone on your team. I want to do well for myself, but it just makes everything even sweeter if your team does well."
Wiegman takes as much pleasure in watching a teammate improve over the course of the season as she does seeing her own name at or near the top of the standings, which is usually the case, whether it's on the skiing and running trails or in the classroom.
A high honors student who hopes to study medical laboratory science at the University of Rhode Island, Wiegman has self-motivation down to a science.
"She has a drive to succeed," Williamson said. "She puts in a lot of work. She'll do what it takes to be successful, whether it's smart training, but also with good academics and good nutrition. She really balances it all very well. You don't get student-athletes like Maddie really often."
As the captain, Wiegman hopes to pass that balance and wisdom along to teammates this season. The Hornets graduated a strong class of skiers last year, including Lucy Knowlton and Taren McGray, leaving Wiegman big ski boots to fill.
"It was kind of hard for me because I had a lot of very good friends on that team. I'd been racing with them since sixth grade," she said. "It's weird to not have them here this year, but I've still made just as good friends this year and you just try to pass (the culture) along."
"My freshman year, we had a great captain, Allison Fereshetian," Wiegman said. "She's the one that set the example for me. She was very positive, always uniting everyone. I wanted to be a captain like she was. You just want to pass that example on to the underclassmen."
Being an underclassman never stopped Wiegman from showing leadership qualities before, so Williamson is confident she can inspire the Hornets as a senior.
"The way that she motivates and gets the team together and focused is unbelievable," Williamson said.
Wiegman does it by being positive, encouraging her teammates while reminding them to take nothing for granted.
"We did lose some of our top skiers, but we also have a lot of talent on the team," said Wiegman, who has skied for Maine's state and J2 teams. "Everybody just needs to ski their own race and work hard. Everyone's goal is to win states, but you just have to go into every race expecting to work your hardest because it's not going to come easy."
She knows defending her classical title won't come easy. But she saw no advantage in changing her off-season routine of running and roller-skiing.
"I thought I had a good system last year," she said. "I didn't over-train. I peaked at the right time. So I figured not to fluster it too much and just to keep relaxed and not let the pressure get to me. Just go at it with the same mindset I had last year."
This Saturday will be Wiegman's final Hornet Classic, Leavitt's signature cross country race. She came in third last year. The two girls who finished ahead of her, Maranacook's Abby Mace and Mt. Ararat's Emma Wood, have graduated.
Not surprisingly, Wiegman is more focused on helping the Hornets improve upon their third-place finish in 2012.