Grad Tidings: As graduation nears, Buckfield senior looks back most fondly on her time in the school gym

May 8—BUCKFIELD — In the past six years, there are few places Hailey Litchfield has spent more time than the Buckfield Junior-Senior High School gym.

After picking up basketball in kindergarten, the Buckfield native never quit. She joined the school team in seventh grade and was one of just two seniors on the team this year, usually playing as a forward guard.

Litchfield is also one of Buckfield's top students. Soon, she'll graduate as No. 5 in her class, a position she's worked hard to achieve.

But she acknowledges athletics come easier. Asked what her favorite class is, she quickly responds: "Gym."

Her connection to the court runs deeper than the long hours of basketball practice and hard-fought games. Whether it's playing pickleball, tennis or other games, Litchfield is happiest when she's in gym class.

She even assists physical education teacher Tammy Tatlock as an aide, helping to set up and run activities for the middle school gym classes. Other times, she partners one on one to help students with special needs.

"She always wants something to do, which is good; it's great," Tatlock said, fondly referring to Litchfield as her sidekick. "Some days I don't (have anything for her to do) because she's got me so far ahead. She keeps me organized."

In her high school career, Litchfield has tried her hand at more than just basketball. She's played intramural volleyball and was a member of the softball team in her sophomore year before realizing a manager role suited her best.

This spring, she's learning discus, javelin and jumping in her first season as a member of the track and field team. For Litchfield, it was an opportunity to try something new.

While her time in track and field will be short, Litchfield is serious about learning throwing techniques. Last Thursday morning, Tatlock found her studying videos about javelin throwing.

"(She) reviews extra videos and researches to make herself better," said Tatlock, who coached Litchfield in basketball and softball for several years. "She's very analytic, very involved, and (she) wants to do her best at what she can to help whatever program she is in."

Not just focused on bettering herself, Litchfield has also tutored teammates when they were in danger of losing their athletic eligibility to help keep the team as strong as it could be, Tatlock said.

"As a teacher, you have to keep your boundaries and your limits, but some (students) hold a little special part of you, and she will be a student that I will miss greatly," she said.

This summer, Litchfield will shadow medical professionals in local hospitals and doctors' offices before heading to Kennebec Valley Community College to study to be a medical assistant.

Litchfield said her interest in the medical field began with her family. Her grandmother worked in nursing homes, her mother was a surgical technician and her grandfather was very ill and required medical treatment.

"I guess that brought me into it," she said. "I just want to help."

Asked whether she's looking forward to graduation, Litchfield said she is and she isn't.

"I'm going to miss this place, (but) I'm excited to go do something out of my comfort zone," she said.