FARMINGTON — As Edwin Thompson was being introduced at a meeting of all the Duke University coaches, one loud cheer went up from the back of the room.

It was Joanne McCallie, the women’s basketball coach. Brunswick native and former University of Maine head coach.

“She said ‘Mainers have to stick together,’ ” Thompson, who recently completed his first season as an assistant baseball coach with the Blue Devils, recalled.

Mainers stick together. That’s why Thomspon, a Jay native, was happy to be the keynote speaker at the banquet for the Babe Ruth Baseball 13-15-year old New England Regional Tournament, which begins today at Farmington’s Hippach Field.

After graduating from Jay High School in 1998, Thompson played Division I baseball, first at Howard, then Maryland, and finally Webber. He played for the short-lived Bangor Lumberjacks independent team.

Baseball has always been Thompson’s game. When he was 11, he announced that he would hit a home run on his 12th birthday.

“Sure enough, on his 12th birthday, he hit that home run,” Thompson’s older brother, Darius, said. “and I still have that ball.”

Thompson got his start in coaching right here, at the University of Maine at Farmington. In the dining hall that hosted Thursday’s banquet, he shared meals with his players and recruits. He learned to coach from Dick Meader, who recently retired as the Beavers’ baseball coach but still coaches basketball at UMF.

“Coach Meader, he was the best,” Thompson said. “He let me learn. Let me make mistakes. Let me learn how to be a coach.”

Thompson can recite a 25-man roster of guys he played ball against, in college or a summer league, that would be a solid Major League club. Khalil Greene. Willie Bloomquist. Josh Bard. And of course, Mark Teixeira.

Thompson used to give public speeches more, when he head coach at Bates College.

“This is my first one at Duke,” he said. “It’s kind of special to do it back here, home.”

If he was out of practice, Thompson didn’t let on. His speech to the eight teams, their coaches, and their families hit all the right notes.

“You may not understand it right now, but you’re at an amazing level,” Thompson said to the players. “You’re the best in New England.”

Have goals, Thompson urged. Have dreams. Have accountability and focus on your education. Play the game the right way. When coaches like Thompson are on the recruiting trail, they see everything.

“The things you do, we notice,” he said.

Thompson is still just a young coach, but he’s already built a legacy. Mt. Blue High School baseball coach Dan Stefanilo was a player at UMF when Thompson was Meader’s assistant.

“He taught me everything I know about the mechanics of the game,” Stefanilo said.

Thompson’s legacy doesn’t end with his players. When his speech was over, Thompson was presented the 2011 Al Card Award by the Collegiate Baseball Umpires Association of Maine, for his sportsmanship during his time at Bates.

“That was a total shock,” Thompson said.

Darius Thompson watched his younger brother accept the award, and thought of their late father, Bill. It was Bill’s passion that ultimately led Edwin into coaching, Darius said.

“I know buttons are bursting with pride,” Darius said.

When he visits home in the winter, Thompson will give a baseball clinic. He’ll teach the game to as many players as possible. Mainers stick together, McCallie reminds Thompson of that all the time, when they talk on the Duke campus and share stories of home.

The good ones, like Thompson, give back, too.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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