NORTH STONINGTON — One of the enduring memories Aidan Cameron will have of his time at Wheeler High came when he was a freshman on the baseball team.
"That freshman year the coaches and the seniors on that team were so welcoming to me. I learned so much that year. And for them to bring me in like that was special," said Cameron, who graduated earlier this month.
That's kind of how it goes at Wheeler. The school, which had a graduating class of 47 this spring, is one of the smallest public high schools in the state.
"It has benefits. Everyone knows everyone at Wheeler," Cameron said. "We are a tight-knit community. We are there to support each other. We see the same athletes in sports, too. When you have a bad day, it's nice to have the community you have to bring you up."
Cameron was hoping to add to his lasting memories during his time at Wheeler with his senior year of baseball. But the coronavirus pandemic took that away.
Cameron and the Lions were expecting a big year.
Wheeler returned a top-notch pitcher in Bowen Baker, who finished with a 4-0 record with 82 strikeouts in 36⅓ innings last season. Baker, who is headed to Fairfield to play, had an ERA of 1.16.
Cameron returned as his catcher. Cameron had a big season as a junior, hitting .439 with 25 hits, 16 runs scored and 10 RBIs. Both players were first-team All-ECC Division IV selections.
"We had the entire team back," Cameron said. "We were excited because we had Bo [Baker] back and we had two other talented pitchers in Lukas Jones and Tyler Burdick. I think we could have at least made it to states."
Playing catcher can be a grueling position.
"You have to not only be physically strong, but you have to know all the positions. You have to be a leader on the field and know what is going on mentally. I love it," Cameron said. "It's tiring and rewarding because I know I worked hard to do what I just did."
Cameron said he also put in hours of work in the offseason in preparation for a season that never happened.
"It was disappointing because I had put in all that work," Cameron said. "I had a little bit of hope for just a few games. I was upset when I heard the season was off. But I learned that I will face multiple struggles in life, and I was able to get through this, which will help me further down the line."
Cameron has also learned a few other things during his time at Wheeler.
"I've learned how to overcome adversity and be resilient," he said. "I've learned the value of a good work ethic. We really had to work hard to compete at a higher level."
Cameron said he misses his teammates and the competition of games.
He said his father, Chris, who works at Electric Boat, inspires him with his work ethic and his dedication to his work and family.
Cameron will attend the University of Rhode Island and hopes to be an engineer one day.
He said it's been difficult dealing with the loss of many traditional senior events such as prom and graduation.
"It was not what we wanted. But I think we've learned there will be many more great opportunities," Cameron said. "We can't focus on what didn't happen, but we have to focus on what can happen, and we will have many more great memories down the line."