Courier Publications/VillageSoup honor

Three-sport standout Grant displays grit, work ethic, talent as athlete of year

Viking graduate helps school teams experience stellar 2016-17 play
By Mark Haskell | Nov 25, 2017
Photo by: Mark Haskell Searsport District High School graduate Barrett Grant is the Courier Publications/VillageSoup 2016-17 schoolboy athlete of the year.

Searsport — Whether on the soccer pitch, basketball court, baseball diamond or water as a lobster fisherman, Barrett Grant personifies grit, hard work and dedication to his craft.

And in terms of the 2016-17 high school sports season, Grant was deemed the best of the best.

Or perhaps more directly — Courier Publications/VillageSoup's schoolboy athlete of the year.

Grant edged Mount View’s Colby Furrow and Devon Davis, Oceanside’s Michael Norton Jr. and Camden Hills’ Josiah Krul to earn the honor. Grant also was a finalist for last year’s award.

Grant was a three-sport athlete for the Vikings, excelling in soccer, basketball and baseball.

Click for photos of Barrett Grant.

On the pitch, Grant played forward his senior year — though he would typically play wherever the team’s specific needs were — and finished with 22 goals and 17 assists, being named Penobcot Valley Conference first-team all-conference. He also finished one goal shy of breaking the male school scoring record at 79 and was named as a member of the All-State team.

On the hardwood, Grant averaged 22 points, seven assists and 11 rebounds, which earned him second-team all-conference. He also surpassed 1,000 career points and participated in the McDonald’s Senior All-Star Game.

But it was on the baseball diamond where Grant truly excelled. At the plate, he sported a .516 batting average, with 11 doubles, 20 RBIs, 32 runs, had a .603 on-base percentage, struck out only four times and swiped a whopping 53 bases on 55 attempts.

From his catcher position, he threw out nine runners and had only one passed ball.

He also was a finalist for the Dr. John W. Winkin 2017 Mr. Maine Baseball award and helped the Vikings swing to their third straight state Class D championship.

Grant’s father, Melvin, a 1992 SDHS graduate, also was a three-sport athlete for the Vikings. He excelled in baseball and had the opportunity to play for the University of Maine at Orono on a scholarship.

Melvin ultimately did not go to UMaine and opted to go into the family business — Grant’s Seafood — which has been a mainstay in Waldo County for more than 70 years.

Grant said his father was a significant influence on him athletically.

“He got me into [sports] quite young,” said Grant of his father. “I was always just a little bit bigger than everybody when I was younger. I was always a little bit taller so I was always the top player on my team all the way up through. Then I finally got to that point where I realized, ‘I’ve got to get better because I’m not taller than everybody anymore.’ And then you’ve just got to put the work in.”

Grant said when he turned 11 years old, “that was when sports really turned around for me.”

Especially on the baseball diamond.

Grant was part of three straight Waldo County Little League baseball teams that won the District 2 championship and enjoyed deep runs in the state tournament. Later, he saw more success in the Midcoast Babe Ruth League as he was a catalyst in Waldo County winning two straight league baseball championships (Waldo County would win a third straight after Grant was ineligible to continue on the team due to age restrictions).

After Grant helped the Searsport baseball team secure a Class D South semifinal berth as a freshman — which resulted in a 2-0 road loss to Buckfield — the Vikings then went on a tear over the next three years.

Searsport racked up an astounding 12-0 postseason record over the next three years, which resulted in three straight state Class D baseball championships.

In those state finals, the Vikings posted a 4-3 win over Stearns of Millinocket in 2015, 10-2 decision over Penobscot Valley of Howland in 2016 and 6-5 victory over Bangor Christian in 2017.

Two of those wins came in dramatic fashion — in extra innings, via walk-off hits, including a walk-off home run by Mitchell Philbrook in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Patriots.

And while Philbrook’s solo blast gets much of the recognition — and rightfully so — Grant was quick to point out that has never been Searsport’s game.

“We had pitching, we had defense and we had timely hitting,” said Grant. “We’ve never been a power-hitting team. We’ve always been fundamentals, small ball and everything. Any team I’ve ever been on, we’ve never had power hitting.”

“Mitchell gets all the credit for hitting that home run, but people forget without Barrett’s five innings of dominant [relief] pitching giving up no runs we probably don’t get to that point,” said Frye. “He came up huge in that state game.”

But one of the constants of those three title teams was Grant, behind home plate, donning a catcher’s mask and doing the little things to help Searsport emerge victorious.

Frye said “baseball is definitely where he stands out the most.”

“He controls the whole game behind the plate,” said Frye. “Every coach will tell you they like to run [on the bases], but against Searsport, it was impossible to run against Barrett. It was just an automatic out. And when he gets on base you knew usually two pitches [later] he was going to be standing at third.”

Grant said, in short, winning can be contagious. And he and many of his teammates on the diamond caught the bug early on in Little League and later in Babe Ruth.

“Once you’re in those winning situations, it kind of just jumps over,” he said. “Most of the kids that were on my regular high school team played with me [in Babe Ruth].”

Frye said that while baseball was Grant's top sport, his overall winning attitude and hard-nosed work ethic carried over to the soccer and basketball teams.

“Being such a great athlete it just carried over to soccer,” Frye said. “His sport wasn’t soccer really, but being the athlete he was, he made that sport even look easy. And same with basketball being a 1,000-point scorer.”

Frye said in the team’s final soccer game against Dexter, with Grant within striking distance of nabbing the school boys record for goals, he instead opted to be a facilitator trying to set up teammates for goals.”

Grant recalled trying to set up senior teammate Lucas Hendrickson for a goal late against the Tigers. Frye said Hendrickson had only one career goal, which came during his freshman season.

“There was 18 minutes left and I said, ‘I’m going to get him a goal,’ ” Grant said. “He hit one off the post. I passed up I think four shots inside the 18-yard line one-on-one to try to get him a goal. And we were this close. It didn’t happen, but you remember that stuff. He’s a good friend of mine. I’d have rather done that to try to get him his goal than break any school record.”

“It just proves what type of player he is,” Frye said of Grant. “He’s more about the team than his individual stats, in soccer especially. In baseball, he’s just automatic when he gets on. He’s quick, he’s fast, he’s strong and probably one of the better catchers I’ve coached in over 30 years of coaching baseball.”

On the basketball court, Grant said, “I think I kind of surprised him,” referring to Viking coach Dave Pepin, with his work on the hardwood.

“I don’t think he knew who I was,” said Grant. “And I came out and worked my ass off on defense, and that’s what got his attention.”

Grant turned into the team’s go-to offensive weapon over his final two seasons and led the Vikings on both ends of the floor.

Grant said he grew his relationship with Pepin over the years as well — so much so that Grant will be an assistant coach for Pepin on the basketball court this winter.

Frye said Grant helped him in the preseason in soccer, but “his work got really busy. But he was great. And I know he’s going to do a really good job with Pepin. He loves working with the kids and the kids all respect him.”

Grant had made up his mind that he planned to forego college and the opportunity to play baseball at the next level and enter the work force. He purchased a lobster boat — Kim's Pride out of Southwest Harbor (he will rename the boat at some point in the future, he said) — prior to the start of his senior year of baseball.

But, he recently had a change of heart, and plans to attend Husson University in Bangor in the spring and will try out for the baseball team.

He said one of the determining factors is “I see what my dad goes through” as he “beats himself up” out on the water as a lobsterman.

“He’s 45 years old and he beats the hell out of himself doing this [lobstering],” said Grant. “It’s tough. I like doing it a couple days a week, but I don’t want to do it every single day. So I figured, I’m going to go to college. I’m 18 and you’re only young once. I’ll go play ball and afterwards get a job and do this as a side job.”

“His mind was set to be a lobsterman and do that,” said Frye. “And when I finally heard that [he’d changed his mind], it was a great feeling. That he’s going to keep playing baseball, the sport that he really loves. And fishing will be there when he gets done if he wants to do it. But that’ll be fun go to watch. I can’t wait to chase him around and see some of his games.”

Grant said he plans to major in criminal justice and hopes to eventually work for the Maine Warden’s Service.

Personal information

Name: Barrett Grant.

Age: 18.

Grade: 2017 graduate of Searsport District High School.

Parents: Stacy and Melvin Grant.

Town: Stockton Springs.

Favorite athlete: Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Favorite personal moment in sports: Winning the state Class D baseball championship in 2015.

Favorite course in school: Gym.

TV show you never miss: SportsCenter.

Favorite phone app: Facebook.

What do you listen to on your iPod before competing: Rap music.

Favorite movie: "Field of Dreams."

Food you pig out on: Steak.

Hobbies: Hunting, fishing and sports.

Vehicle you wish you were driving: 2018 Ford F-350.

Most influential person in your life: My grandmother.

Future plans: Go to Husson University to play baseball and lobstering.

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Staff Profile

Mark Haskell
Associate Sports Director
594-4401, ext. 116
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Mark has been covering local sports throughout Knox, Waldo and part of Lincoln county since 2007. Haskell has a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from the University of Maine and is also a 2000 graduate of Rockland District High School. He has won multiple Maine Press Association awards for writing and photography.

Mark loves iced coffee, cargo shorts, spending time with friends and family and suffers no longer after his beloved Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

He resides in Thomaston with his wife Jenn, his sons Beckett and Austin and daughter Lila.

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