ROCKLAND — Days before she steps onto a court for her first official high school varsity game, Oceanside freshman Bailey Breen already is garnering statewide attention.

So much so that University of Maine of Orono women’s basketball coach Amy Vachon has taken notice, and, subsequently, offered the 6-foot 2-inch Breen a full athletic scholarship to join the Division I Black Bears women’s basketball team in the future.

Bailey Breen. Photo by Mark Haskell

Vachon attended an Oceanside preseason game at Greely of Cumberland. And, after talking with Mariner coach Matt Breen — Bailey’s father — inquired about his daughter reaching out to her.

“Bailey called her, not really knowing what to expect,” Matt said. “She figured she’d talk about the game, what she thought she did well and what she thought she could improve on. And Amy offered her a scholarship. She was kind of caught off guard by it.”

Bailey said: “I have always dreamed of getting a scholarship” and “I would like to thank coach Vachon for having the confidence in me to make the offer.”

According to National Collegiate Athletic Association rules, athletes cannot officially make a commitment to play sports in college until their junior year. The only time an athlete officially can commit to a college is during the signing period, when they sign their national letter of intent. Athletes can receive verbal offers of scholarships at any point.

Bailey thanked her teammates, coaches, including Brian Clement, Chris Fitzpatrick, Ben Teer, Abi David and Jason Skarka, and her parents, Matt and Elizabeth, for what they have done to aid her basketball career.

“They go absolutely above and beyond,” Bailey said. “I couldn’t be more thankful for everyone.”

It is certainly unusual to get such an offer before ever playing a single varsity minute.

Bailey Breen. Photo by Mark Haskell

But Bailey, a polished player who can play the five positions on the floor, has put in the work over the past few years. And hopes it will translate to success on the court for the Mariners this season, which beginson Friday, Dec. 10 at home against rival Medomak Valley of Waldoboro.

“I’ve been waiting for this opportunity with this group of girls,” she said. “All of them are enthusiastic, we all push ourselves hard in practice and that’s all you can ask for. We have a lot of confidence and I think we can go pretty far.”

Matt said, as a dad, “you just sit back and you’re just proud to see that she accomplished what she set out to do.”

“It’s really exciting,” Matt said. “She’s put in a ton of work and a ton of time. You always say put in the work and you’ll get what you deserve. This just goes to show if you put in that much effort, you can achieve your goals. But that was a personal goal. She has a lot of team goals that we move onto Friday.”

Bailey, who lives in South Thomaston and lobsters with her parents and siblings, has grown up around basketball. Her father was a 1,000-point scorer at Rockland District High School and went on to have a stellar career at Husson College [now Husson University] in Bangor. Her mother scored 987 points at Brewer High School and also played hoops at Husson.

For years, Bailey has been, like a sponge, soaking up knowledge from her parents, in particular her father, who has been coaching high school basketball — first at RDHS and later at OHS — since before she was born.

In sixth grade, things “really shifted gears” for Bailey when she joined the Maine Firecrackers, a travel basketball team out of Portland.

“Once she got involved in that, things really started to take off and it opened different doors for her,” said Matt.

“The girls were always so positive and pushed you to be your best in every practice,” said Bailey. “They weren’t going to let you get away with slacking the slightest bit. I just loved it. The environment was great. I saw improvements and kept working and the harder I worked, the more I liked it because I saw more results. That program was a real turning point.”

Bailey has been playing travel ball since that point, both with the Maine Firecrackers and the Maine Thunder, out of XL Sports of Saco.

As a sixth-grader, the Firecrackers played many games in southern Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

In seventh grade, Bailey helped the Oceanside Middle School seventh-grade girls win the Busline League championship. But weeks later, the pandemic struck.

While the Maine Firecrackers made the decision to “lay low” during that point, Matt said, that opened up the opportunity for Bailey to join the Maine Thunder.

“Some of her friends from Firecracker were big into Thunder as well so she went over there with them and enjoyed that, got to play all the time and practice,” Matt said. “And with them she got to travel to Florida and play.”

In eighth grade, Breen was promoted to the U17 Firecracker national ‘B’ team. With them she played in tournaments in places such as Atlantic City, N.J. and Washington, D.C.

She also was able to attend tournaments with the ‘A’ team — a loaded group with juniors and seniors — and contributed bench minutes in tournaments in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.

“It was insane,” said Bailey on making the jump to the national team. “You’re playing against girls that are pretty much all scholarship-level players that were all going to play in college. I wasn’t expecting that opportunity because not many eighth-graders were blessed with something like that. And I had to go into practice and work my tail off to show I deserved that every day.”

“She’s certainly put in the time,” said Matt. “A lot of it has been on Thunder and Firecrackers. We drive to Saco at least three times a week. Every Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday. We’ve driven up and down the Eastern seaboard all spring and summer.”

Now, Bailey’s focus will shift to the high school hoop season, where she and the Mariners hold high aspirations for the 2021-22 campaign.

“It was great to achieve a personal goal, but now I am focused on my team goals,” she said. “I have a great group of teammates at Oceanside and the season starts Friday and it’s all about focusing on achieving our team goals.”

As for whether or not she is destined to be a Black Bear?

“She’s just enjoying the moment,” said Matt. “Amy’s great. There was no pressure about [the offer]. She likes Amy and loves the idea of playing [collegiately] in her home state, but she’s only 14.”