Jimmy Fowler isn’t the type of player whose only motivation is to be the best. No, his motivation is much more personal.

While his father encouraged him to play hockey when he was young, it was his mother who helped push him toward lacrosse, which was still a relatively new sport on the central Maine scene when Fowler was young.

“My dad encouraged my sisters and I to play hockey. My mom, it was lacrosse, and then it was kind of ‘our sport,'” Fowler said. “We’d go to tournaments together. I play it for her — that’s kind of the motivation for me to work harder at it. For her.”

Fowler, who lost his mother, Jennifer, to cancer in early 2015, has reaped the rewards of his hard work. The Winslow High School senior scored 40 goals to go along with 46 assists to lead the Black Raiders to the Class B North quarterfinals this spring.

For his accomplishments this season, Fowler is the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel Boys Lacrosse Player of the Year.

Bret Sproul of Cony and Connor Smith of Messalonskee were also considered.

“He’s the kind of kid that everybody can root for,” Winslow head coach Bruce Lambrecht said of Fowler. “He’s an outstanding young man. He’s blessed with talent and he just works his butt off to keep getting better.”

For Fowler, lacrosse didn’t come that easily at first. He discovered the sport as a sixth-grader, when he and some friends would toss a ball around with sticks. By his own admission, “We weren’t very good at all.”

As time progressed, Fowler found his footing. As someone who grew up around sports, the skills came to him fairly naturally. But it was the mental edge he needed to acquire to take his game to the next level.

While playing with a travel team in the summer 2014 with lacrosse players from across New England, Fowler found what he was looking for.

“When I started playing (on that team), I wasn’t as confident as some of the other guys. I was still kind of new to it,” Fowler said. “I was playing against good kids from Massachusetts and other states, and they had been playing the game their whole lives.

“I started to see that I could play with these kids. I beat them on faceoffs, I scored goals in tournaments. It changed my mind. For me, it became, ‘Who says I’m not as good as them?’ That’s all it took, really.”

Twice this season, Fowler registered seven goals in a game. More importantly, he also had two games in which he didn’t lose a faceoff. He finished the season with 138 faceoff wins, an average of more than 10 per game.

He remembers the team he played on as a freshman — “We weren’t very good” — and said that shaped his work on faceoffs.

“I figured if I can win all the faceoffs, we’ll be that much better,” said Fowler, who is headed to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, where his older sister Sarah was a member of the school’s Division I national club championship women’s ice hockey team in 2015. “We’ll have the ball more of the time, and that’s what’s good for the team. I know how much they can affect the game, and there’s a lot to it. It looks simple — be fast and get the ball first — but no, I was wrong. There are a lot of different ways to do it.”

Lambrecht said that Fowler’s emphasis on faceoffs shouldn’t be surprising. The midfielder always stressed the significance of “balance” in his overall game, particularly on the statistics sheet.

“(His stats) are pretty amazing, especially for being as unselfish as he is,” Lambrecht said. “He always wants to be balanced. He always wants to be a team player. He’s very generous — he’s not ‘me, me, me’ all the time. There are a lot of players with his kind of skill level who are very selfish, but he’s not like that at all.”

“What’s the point in me running down and taking a shot over and over again? Scoring goals is kind of a selfish thing if you think about it,” Fowler said. “If my teammates are in a better spot, why wouldn’t I pass? If that’s what’s better for the team, then that’s the right play to make.”

It took some time for Fowler’s teammates, particularly the younger players on the roster, to adjust. By the end of the season, he was making sure the freshmen and sophomores were getting opportunities in key situations.

“At the end of the year, it was about helping make the younger players on this team better,” Fowler said. “My time was kind of done. I wanted our team to have a good foundation for the years to come.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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