Many kids don’t decide on the direction of their college future until long after they arrive on campus for the first time.
For Pat Thibodeau, that decision came much earlier — just after he finished the third grade.
Thibodeau went to his first baseball camp that summer, and went back home determined to return one day as a member of the University of Maine baseball team.
“I knew that’s where I wanted to go,” he said.
A decade later, Thibodeau will achieve that goal after recently completing a stellar baseball career at Caribou High School.
The pitcher-outfielder has been invited to walk on to the Black Bears’ baseball program this fall, and in preparation for that opportunity he is playing American Legion baseball in Presque Isle this summer as well as dedicating himself to a workout regimen given to him by Maine baseball coach Steve Trimper.
“I just want to do everything I can to get ready to go and play there,” he said.
Thibodeau’s resume suggests he has been on the right track for several years to become one of the rare Aroostook County players in recent years to pursue a Division I college baseball career.
He was a four-year starter and four-year all-conference choice at Caribou who batted better than .500 each season. As a senior he was named Penobscot Valley Conference player of the year as well being selected a Maine East-West Senior All-Star and a finalist for the Dr. John Winkin Award symbolic of the state’s Mr. Baseball.
But Thibodeau’s rise up through the ranks wasn’t without some self-doubt.
“I went to a lot of camps, but it got to the point where I wasn’t sure if I was Division I material,” he said.
So Thibodeau merely kept working harder, and eventually gave up playing soccer and basketball in order to focus on his favorite sport.
“I had fun playing those other sports, but I was hoping my future was in baseball,” he said.
Thibodeau was a first-team All-PVC outfielder as a sophomore and a junior and an American Legion Zone 1 all-star last summer, but his senior season at Caribou nearly got derailed before it began.
Thibodeau broke his right ankle last winter, an injury he feared would curtail his final year with the Vikings.
“I thought for sure that would set me back,” he said.
But the recovery went quicker than expected, and Thibodeau got the go-ahead from his doctor, Jean-Pierre Michaud just in time for the opening week of full-squad practices in late March.
“He knew I was all about baseball,” said Thibodeau.
Thibodeau showed few ill effects of the ankle injury throughout the spring, as he batted .581 with four home runs, 24 stolen bases in 26 attempts and 29 RBIs, a .658 on-base percentage and a .986 slugging percentage.
Thibodeau also went 5-2 on the mound with a 2.01 earned run average and 38 strikeouts in 33 innings pitched while leading the Vikings to a 12-4 regular-season record and a berth in the Eastern Maine Class B playoffs.
Wilson wins leadership award
Dexter Regional High School football coach Tim Wilson has been recognized as a 2009 recipient of the International Leadership Award from the World Affairs Council of Maine.
Wilson was recognized for his involvement in Seeds of Peace, a program founded in 1993 that brings together youth from areas of conflict, such as the Middle East, in an effort to foster a spirit of peaceful co-existence.
Wilson served as vice president and director of the Seeds of Peace camp in Otisfield, Maine, from its inception until his retirement in 2006, and he remains a camp adviser. He also has been active involving students from Dexter High in the Seeds of Peace experience and the issues faced by campers from other areas of the world.
The International Leadership Award is presented annually to an individual, company or organization that works to provide peace locally and globally while exemplifying qualities of dedication, patience and leadership.
The Seeds of Peace program also was presented an International Leadership Award by the World Affairs Council of Maine.
The World Affairs Council of Maine was founded in 1977 to promote the understanding of world events and issues, foreign policy and international trade, and other countries and cultures.
Wilson will enter the fourth year of his second stint as the head football coach at Dexter this fall. He previously coached the Tigers from 1966 to 1971, leading the team to state championships in 1969 and 1970.
LaBrie gains NFHS honor
Former Maine Principals’ Association assistant executive director Larry LaBrie is one of 11 state high school athletic officials nationwide being honored this week during the 90th annual National Federation of State High School Associations summer meeting being held in Chicago.
LaBrie, who worked for the MPA from 1992 until his retirement in 2008 after serving as a coach and principal at the Walton School in Auburn and subsequently as principal of Edward Little High School in Auburn, received an NFHS Citation in honor of his contributions to interscholastic athletics throughout his career.