HARWICH – It was a moment Jamie Routhier won’t forget. It was the Monomoy Sharks first basketball overtime against Bourne in the MIAA Div. 3 South playoffs; they were trailing by two with seconds left. Teammate Elijah Beasley fed him the ball, all eyes watching as Routhier leapt, landing on his feet just as the ball went in, the crowd roaring.
The irony? Routhier had been off leading up to that game, but the senior is no stranger to adversity and did what he’s always done: kept going.
“Going into that game I wasn’t actually on the best shooting streak. I was confident but I was a little rocky,” he said.
To stave off the muscle cramps that plagued him throughout the contest, Routhier chugged mustard, a rumored antidote, on the bench. But in spite of the pain and the pre-game concerns, everything clicked, the Sharks were victorious.
“We were down two and they had the ball. We felt like we had our backs against the wall,” Routhier said. “We organized a full-court trap. When they dribbled down the middle, Beasley pounced, passed it to me and I took the shot, tied it up with about two seconds left. That was a really good feeling.”
Routhier started with youth sport, but it wasn’t basketball, his favorite. Instead, he chose America’s – and his dad’s – favorite pastime.
“I’ve basically been playing baseball my whole life,” he said. “My dad has always been a baseball fanatic. I actually wasn’t in love with it right away. He kind of pushed me to keep playing.”
It wasn’t a bad thing since, in third grade, baseball fever struck.
“That’s when I really fell in love with it,” Routhier said.
Routhier played up in Little League, a solid hitter at the plate who alternated between catching and pitching, before opting to just pitch.
“As I got older, I realized you can’t really do both,” he said. “My dad said to try out pitching and that’s where I shined.”
In seventh grade, Routhier tried travel basketball, enjoying the sport but more as a fun hobby than something to put major effort into. It wasn’t until his freshman year that he began taking it seriously.
“I was far from the best player on the team,” he said. “To be honest, I initially started playing when I was going through a really hard time in my life, so it kind of saved me. It was a way for me to cope with the stress.”
As a middle schooler, Routhier was stricken with an autoimmune illness known as alopecia, which caused him to lose all of his hair. Routhier’s friends were an immense source of support.
“The one day that I remember pretty clearly was when I came back with a shaved head. All my friends brought me in right away and acted like nothing ever happened,” he said. “I can’t say it was easy going through high school pretty much being the only bald kid I know. I just wanted everything to be normal again.”
The diagnosis was a blow, but Routhier realized he had a choice.
“The sooner I accepted the whole illness and who I was, the happier I became,” he said. “It helped me build character and helped me realize that people have things that are out of their control that they have to deal with.”
In his freshman year, Routhier began focusing on basketball, grateful to coaches Keith Arnold and Dan Taylor for their efforts.
“They were going to pick the people who were the most talented and I recognized that,” Routhier said. “They pushed me to be a better player.”
But it was the decision of a fellow player to attend a different high school that Routhier said offered him something of a big break.
“Bobby Joy is a terrific point guard and one of the best players on Cape Cod, but him leaving was probably the best thing for me,” said Routhier of Joy’s choice to attend Nauset. “It opened up the opportunity for me to lead the team we had through the years.”
Routhier honed his skills with the goal of becoming a top competitor, a goal that motivated him to put in long practice hours during the off-season. The summer between his freshman and sophomore years, Routhier basically ate, slept, and breathed basketball, with a little baseball, too.
“I really wanted to take the next step and play varsity as a sophomore,” Routhier said. “That whole summer I spent pretty much every day at Brooks Park.”
Routhier watched training videos and closely followed Coach Taylor’s suggestions on where he needed improvement. That season, Routhier didn’t make varsity right away, but kept his intensity up on the JV team. Then the JV Sharks beat Nauset, and Coach Arnold took another look.
“After a [varsity] game, in front of the whole team, Coach Taylor told me I’d be moved up permanently,” Routhier said. “He told me, ‘This team needs leadership and Coach Arnold thinks you can bring that to the table.’”
In Routhier’s junior year he found his stride, helped by the fact that he was now playing with the teammates he’d grown up with: DeMango, Beasley, and Jason Ready, with Bradley Alexis joining the fray, as well. (Add in Joy and you’ve got Routhier’s Dream Team.)
The team again made the playoffs, enjoying some exciting wins, but it’s the 2019-2020 season that will stick with Routhier. The Sharks kicked it off by beating Nauset in the Warrior gym.
“Obviously, beating Nauset and D-Y meant a lot to me,” Routhier said. “But I think mainly it’s the core chemistry that our team has had and brought up through the JV levels.”
Fans might have noticed that Routhier wore a shoulder brace throughout the season, but only Routhier knew the depth of the injury he was dealing with. Even before basketball ended, Routhier knew that his spring baseball season would be spent in a sling as he recovered from surgery.
“About a year ago, we went to Nantucket and were having a really good game. Then, my first at-bat, I felt my shoulder almost pop out,” Routhier recalled. “I tried to shake it off and ignore it.”
Ignoring better judgment, Routhier kept playing until the shoulder popped again, this time completely.
“My shoulder had subluxed, rolling out of the socket, and tore part of the labrum,” Routhier said.
He had surgery last week. While he certainly feels for his fellow athletes, also missing their spring seasons, he said the COVID-19 cancellation was bittersweet.
“I think it was like a gift from God,” he said. “Going through this season in a sling would have been the hardest thing to do. I was captain… I didn’t want to just quit on my team like that.”
Routhier wasn’t just dedicated to his athletics and his teams. Away from the court, he was a stellar student, his GPA higher than 4.0.
“I’ve actually not missed honor roll since middle school,” he said, acknowledging trying to balance sports and school. “It’s not like me putting academics ahead of athletics, because there are times when I’m way more concerned with my game that day, but it’s always just been part of my life. It seems like my responsibility as a kid.”
His excellent grades secured him a spot at the UMass Amherst Isenberg School of Management, which he’s looking forward to. He’d like to one day own his own business, inspired by his dad, Pugga, and his uncle, Daryl, both personal fitness coaches.
“I’ve always found joy in helping people,” Routhier said. “I like the idea of helping people feel better, restore motion. I can see myself owning a business one day. I take responsibility and I’m a good leader, and those are definitely desirable traits for someone that wants to own a business.”
Routhier plans to gain all that he can from the college experience.
“I’m going to see where this school takes me. I know they have plenty of good internships,” he said. “They set you up for success on graduation, as well.”
Along with Coaches Arnold and Taylor, Routhier is also glad to have had Coach Steve Wilson during his freshman season.
“He was a great role model,” Routhier said. “He could always make me smile if I was a little out of it. He brought such a light to the dugout and was so respectful of everyone. I love that man.”
Then, there’s family, for whom Routhier is most grateful.
“My dad, Pugga, he’s been my role model my whole life,” Routhier said. “He shows me what a real father is, and I can’t thank him enough for that. And my grandmother, Suzanne... She’s been to everything ever since I was little. She’s just that grandma.”
Routhier said he’s confidently looking toward the future, drawing strength from his struggles.
“You have to deal with the cards you’re dealt in life,” he said. “That’s how you’re going to be happy.”