Messalonskee Math Team coach Nick Hart, a soft-spoken, low-key person by nature, can turn loud and critical when necessary. And this is exactly what he did when his team continued to struggle at meets this season.
“I yelled at them,” Hart said. “I told them there’s no growth because of a lack of work ethic. They did not like hearing that…but that is when they started working harder.”
Sure enough, the ten members of the Messalonskee Math Team rallied, and the numbers started going their way. Lillie Fortier, the team’s lone senior, was a critical part of that resurgence. She also experienced the end result.
“We actually got first in the state for large schools,” she said of the division Messalonskee competes in during the regular season, “which was pretty awesome.”
Messalonskee’s next test is the Maine Math State Meet on April 2 at the Augusta Civic Center.
“The state meet is kind of fun,” Fortier said. “There are so many more teams that go to the state meet. It’s not just our area. It’s a lot more intense.”
Hart points to Fortier as a prime example of the change in attitude that led to the team’s strong regular-season finish.
“She used to score in the teens in meets,” he said, “and wouldn’t ask a lot of questions, and [after I yelled at the team] that’s when she started to pick it up.”
Fortier confirmed that the key to doing well at math meets is the preparation that occurs in the weeks prior to the event – the math team meets once a week to work on problems.
“I think it is mostly about putting in the effort and caring,” Fortier said.
Such an attitude about math and academics comes naturally to Fortier, who hopes to become a surgeon and ideally would love to attend John Hopkins University in Baltimore to begin her formal education in pursuit of that goal.
“I always try to take the hardest math courses,” she said, “even though I don’t always get the greatest grades [in those courses].”
Fortier will compete at the Maine State Math Meet with teammates Emma Palleschi, Chantelle Flores, Taryn Drolet, Josh Languet, Lauren Bourque, Martin Guarnieri, Alex Pierce, Alexa Brennan, and Mackie Mayo.
by Colin Hickey