Boothbay Region High School senior Faith Blethen knows a bit about overachieving. As a Lady Seahawk, she is a 1,000-point scorer, state basketball champion and state runner-up, and in her four-year career, her teams lost a total of four games. She is also an excellent student earning high honors all four years. And her athletic and academic performance and devotion to community service earned her a nomination along with 4,500 top national high school students for a 2019 U.S. Presidential Scholars program.
With most overachievers, the saying goes that “You are your own biggest critic,” but for Blethen that role is reserved for little sister Glory who for the past two years was her Seahawk teammate, at least on the basketball court.
“You know that saying is wrong. Your sister is your worst critic,” Faith said. “I don’t mean that in a negative way. But she constantly lets me know I can make a better pass or do something better on the court. I call it more of a reality check.”
Like her sister, Glory has been a high honors student her first two years in high school. She is a prolific scorer in basketball, and is also committed to community service. But it isn’t just Glory providing unsolicited advice. Faith has given her little sister plenty of off-court, unsolicited basketball advice. “She is the same with me. After a game, she lets me know what’s on her mind,” Glory said.
Despite being sisters, this is the first time the duo have been basketball teammates. Glory is a sophomore and has been too young to play on Faith’s middle school or AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) basketball teams. And for Seahawk fans, the collaboration has been a success. The Lady Seahawks won 42 of 43 games with the only loss in last year’s regional final.
Basketball isn’t the only activity the sisters collaborate on. They participate in several community service events. Both are members of the Interact Club, a student version of Rotary International. And like local Rotarians, the high school club works on local and global service projects. On March 19, the Blethens joined club members in a Boothbay Region Student Aid Fund fundraiser. The club served and prepared a spaghetti meal which netted over $1,000.
Another Interact project promotes teen suicide awareness. Interact sponsors the Yellow Tulip Project. It also assists with the Preble Street Soup Kitchen in Portland serving meals to the homeless. Another service project melds the sisters’ two passions of community service and basketball. Each year, the Blethens join their Maine Firecracker teammates in raising money for the Taylor Tip-Off Classic. It raises money for domestic violence victims.
Last season, the Blethens enlisted their Boothbay basketball teammates and hosted a “Purple Day” and raised over $1,000 at school from donations by students and staff wearing plum-colored clothing.
“The Firecrackers have always been a leader in this fundraising event. I’m proud of how much time the team (Firecrackers) devotes toward community service,” Faith said. “Last year, we met the governor and heard how domestic violence touched his life. It was really cool to interact with him, and other kids whose lives have beenimpacted by domestic violence.”
Another project also deeply influenced the sisters’ lives. They traveled to Guatemala City, Guatemala as part of Boothbay Harbor Congregational Church’s Safe Passage project. They spent a week in the city’s most desolate section, “the dump.” Safe Passage provides jobs for Guatemalan parents by selling jewelry. The program also funds a school for their children.
“If there wasn’t a school, these kids would probably spend their day sifting through the dump looking for things to sell,” Glory said. “It really makes you appreciate what you have, like plumbing and clean air. Spending a week there you really experience what real poverty is.”
The sisters spend a significant amount of their time playing basketball. AAU offers a spring and fall league. Boothbay Region has a full summer schedule of games and tournaments. And the high school season has preseason, regular season, and winter tournaments all culminating with the Maine Principals’ Association Invitational tournament in February. But the sisters find time for their community service projects.
They credit their parents, Brian and Lesley Blethen, for inspiring their public service. “They’re both great role models who set the example for us,” Faith said. “They tell us ‘To whom much is given, much is expected.’”
For Faith, her future is set. She will attend George Washington University on a full basketball scholarship. The Division I school competes in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Faith caught the attention of Coach Jen Rizzotti years ago at an AAU showcase event. Rizzotti is a former national player of the year while playing for the University of Connecticut. She later was University of Hartford’s head coach before moving on to the Washington, D.C.-based school.
“I chose George Washington because it’s one of the best schools for community service. I’ve also known the coaching staff since I was in the eighth grade, and to play for a coach as famous and highly regarded as Coach Rizzotti is amazing.”
Glory also wants to play college basketball. She wants a water-related career such as piloting a sea craft. “I’m looking at the service academies, Coast Guard and Naval. So this is a crucial year for me as far as doing well at (AAU) showcases this summer,” Glory said.
Faith is still undecided about a career. She thinks it will probably be connected to math or finance. While Faith is playing college basketball, her little sister still has two more years pursuing another Gold Ball for the Lady Seahawks.