High school student-athlete

Nose to grindstone: For Dugan, hard work, dedication pays off

As high school senior, Mariner honored with Maine Principals' Association awards
By Holly Vanorse Spicer | Jun 15, 2018
Courtesy of: Erin Dugan Erin Dugan.

Rockland — Growing up, one always hears adults stress how important it is to work hard, and how that hard work pays off. Erin Dugan, a recent Oceanside High School graduate, knows just how much truth there is to that generations-old statement.

This year, the Thomaston resident received that payoff for all her dedication and hard work in the form of not one, but two prestigious Maine Principals' Association awards.

The first came in the fall of her senior year for her performance in field hockey and classroom. More recently, the second, came when she was the recipient of another MPA honor, this time for academics, and as a standout young community member.

The 18-year-old recently wrapped her final few weeks of high school, with graduation on Tuesday, June 5, and plans to head to the University of Southern Maine later this year to study business management, and communications. She said she is interested in interior design, and her ultimate goal is to own an interior design business.

Dugan is the youngest of three siblings and has played sports since she was in kindergarten — starting with tee-ball, basketball and soccer clinics. Over the years, it progressed to Little League softball, cheering competitions, middle school sports, onward to high school athletics, which included tennis, indoor track, field hockey and being associated with the school's unified basketball program.

Her older sisters, Brooke,and Brianna, also competed — and experienced strong success — in sports for Oceanside.

Of all of the sports Dugan played, and recently competed in, she said her favorites were field hockey and tennis. She added she could not pick between the two, because she likes one as much as the other.

Getting ready for a tennis match or field hockey game for Dugan sometimes was as simple as listening to music, and on some occasions, even taking a nap. She said she does not have any pregame or pre-match rituals, but admits on most days, her competitive side takes over and she replays game plays in her head.

While she loves participating in sports, Dugan said she enjoys watching them.

Because she has been a part of so many different sports over the years, Dugan said she does not have just one or two particular moments in athletics that are the most memorable.

“I have many to look back on," she said. "Getting my first game ball, winning a cheering competition, scoring my very first varsity field hockey goal are all memorable sports moments of mine."

However, without hesitation, she said her most notable sports achievement has been receiving the All-State all-academic award from the MPA for field hockey at the end of the 2017 season.

“It felt so good,” she said of the honor.

She noted field hockey is one of the first sports seasons for high school in the fall, and it can be overwhelming when a new academic year begins.

She said a lot of the time, those first couple of weeks of school are the most stressful between having just come back from a long summer break, and one has to start turning in assignments, and figure out a system that works best to help get school work done and turned in on time.

“Thankfully, my field hockey coach [Joanna Hal] was very considerate when it came to school work. If I had an assignment to get done, or a test to finish, our coach would let us finish whatever we needed to get done and practice at a different time, which was very helpful,” she said.

Dugan said carrying her school workload while participating in sports was a challenge.

“I have a full planner that is always kept well-organized, so it keeps me on schedule for what I have to get done, or prepare for. My planner is my life basically,” she said.

She added she keeps the planner with her throughout the day in case she needs to check on dates, or times. She said that she makes sure to take breaks when doing her homework, or a school project.

“If I have time, I will occasionally take a nap too,” she said.

Dugan also feels her academic studies have helped her in sports — and sports have helped her academics.

“I feel that since I have played sports year-round, my mind has been kept active and helped me learn, and maintain the knowledge taught from inside the classroom,” she said.

Dugan not only exceled on the field and court, she also has been a standout student for Oceanside High School.

She received the 2018 MPA Award from Oceanside Principal Jen Curtis. The award is one Dugan calls one of her most notable school achievements.

“It shows that all of my hard work has finally paid off and has not gone unnoticed," she said.

The Principal’s Award was established in 1984 by the MPA to recognize students for academic excellence and good citizenship.

In a release from Oceanside High School, Curtis was quoted as saying, “Erin is very deserving of this recognition … Throughout her years at Oceanside, Erin has distinguished herself in the classroom and on the playing field due to her strong work ethic. Not to mention, her exemplary civic engagement and leadership in the school and community."

Dugan, who graduated Magna Cum Laude, said her favorite class/subject in school has always depended on the teacher.

“One thing I love about Oceanside is that the teachers there really try to get to know each and every one of their students," she said. "I have had teachers in all varieties of subjects make an impact on my education, so its really hard to pick a favorite."

She added she enjoys hands-on activities, and feels as though that is the best way to learn something new.

Alongside sports, and her academics, Dugan has a full plate of other extracurricular activities.

Since her freshman year of high school, she has been involved with the school's theatre program, from performing, to helping with costumes, hair and makeup.

Dugan also was the recent president of the Oceanside Key Club. She has been a general member of the club since her sophomore year, and during her sophomore and junior years, she was the club’s secretary. She said she has served more than 140 hours through the club.

She also was the secretary for the National Honors Society, her senior class, and the student body.

Dugan is a member of the school’s civil rights team, yearbook committee, school paper, and the school’s safety committee.

“I am also proud to say that I am a Life-Skills Aid, and took part in this year’s Special Olympic Spirit Squad team,” she said.

Dugan said she is inspired by her mother, Michelle Gamache.

“She has taught me so many valuable life lessons throughout the years and she continues to exemplify what it truly means to be a strong, independent woman each and every day. Being a single mother of three girls isn’t easy, that’s for sure, but she continues to do it with a smile on her face,” she said.

Reflecting on her four years of high school, Dugan said if she could go back and give herself advice as a freshman, just entering high school, she would tell herself not to sweat the small stuff.

“Find a good group of friends who accept you for who you are, and not to worry about what you look like, or what to wear on a certain day, because in the end nothing that small ever matters," she said.

Looking ahead, Dugan said she plans to graduate college with her bachelor's degree in business management, with a minor in communications.

As for possibly playing sports in college, she said she thinks about field hockey, but is not sure if she will.

“My oldest sister, Brooke, currently plays field hockey for USM. She would love for me to play with her next year because we have never been on the same team for anything before,” she said,

Dugan said she also will consider joining the college’s intramural Ultimate Frisbee team.

“I would like to keep as active as possible,” she said.

She also hopes to travel while she finishes her educational journey.

"I've heard the honors program [at USM] travels to Iceland," she said.

And many years down the road, Dugan has another dream.

"I would love to have a house right by the water, eventually, and create a family of my own," she said.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Beverly St. Clair | Jun 17, 2018 06:07

Good job Erin!! You sure do deserve recognition for all of your hard work and I can contest what a great inspiration your mom has been. Congratulations, can't wait to see where you go from here.

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