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    Friday, September 29, 2023

    North Stonington senior shows her best

    Wheeler High School senior Marissa Perkins, left, wheels a load of wood shavings into the barn Thursday, June 1, 2023, to place in a pen for her heifer while she and her family do their daily chores on their farm in North Stonington. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Wheeler High School senior Marissa Perkins pours grain into a bucket in her heifer’s pen in the barn Thursday, June 1, 2023, as she and her family do their daily chores on their farm in North Stonington. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Wheeler High School senior Marissa Perkins leads her heifer onto a scale Thursday, June 1, 2023, as she and her family do their daily chores on their farm in North Stonington. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Wheeler's Marissa Perkins (23) moves up the field during a girls’ soccer game on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (The Day file photo)

    Editor’s note: Each year, The Day profiles remarkable seniors at high schools throughout the region. Today’s profile is the final one in the 2023 series.

    North Stonington ― Being a three-sport varsity athlete and in the top third of her class does not seem like it would offer much time for anything else, but Wheeler High School senior Marissa Perkins has managed to do both ― and a whole lot more.

    “She lives an extraordinary type of life, and I think that has propelled her to be that motivated individual. I think any adversity, any kind of extraordinary situation that comes up in her life, she’s going to be able to handle it because of what her life has been up until this point,” said Perkins’ softball coach Steven Bailey, who teaches health and physical education at Wheeler.

    Perkins, 18, balances academics, soccer, basketball and softball with a vast array of extra-curricular activities and community service, while still managing the never-ending work on the cattle farm she helps run with her mother and two sisters, and showing the farm’s cattle at shows statewide, regionally and nationally.

    In the fall, she’s heading to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to pursue a degree in marketing.

    In addition to her team sports, Perkins is currently a superintendent for the New London 4-H club, a member of the Lebanon Dairy and Beef 4-H club, the New England Hereford Association and the Connecticut Beef Team. She participates in student government, sits on the Eastern Connecticut Conference Diversity Council and works with young athletes at basketball and soccer camps through the North Stonington Recreation Department.

    “Not only does she have the time for her academics and sports, but she lives in an agricultural world. Where most kids are going to bed at 11 o’clock, she’s just starting her homework because she has barn chores, or she has to walk the show cows, or she has to feed the cows, or she has to go out because it’s calving season,” said Bailey.

    Bailey said the talented left fielder was every coach’s dream athlete ― a hard worker who put her team above personal glory ― and he felt fortunate to have coached the all-ECC outfielder and two-sport scholar athlete award recipient.

    “I am a very driven person, and I like to accomplish a lot,” Perkins said.

    Despite all her activities, Perkins has one passion that she has focused countless hours on over the past eight years: showing Hereford cattle.

    When Perkins was around 7, she joined the Butter and Bee 4-H club and got her first introduction to cattle. A few years later, when her mother started Four Daughters Farm, Perkins started to become more interested in cows.

    “If you told me at 7 years old that I was going to be doing that, I never would have believed you, because at that point in my life I thought it was going to be something small and minute. It was just a hobby at that point,” she said.

    She began showing cows regionally and nationally, and her hobby became a passion.

    Preparing for competitions requires hundreds of hours of training, grooming and practice because handlers are judged on how they handle the cows, which are judged on both breeding quality and market quality.

    “Going into my freshman year, I had to really think about it ― do I want to play sports, or do I want to show cattle, because this is going to be a lot. I’m going to be really stretched for time, and I wouldn’t be able to reach out to as many cattle shows because they’re on the weekends and high school sports require Saturday practice.”

    It was a hard decision to make because she loved sports and showing cattle. She decided to do both.

    She said the bond she creates with the animals and her competitive spirit drew her to showing cattle, and she credits her work with them for her motivation and strong work ethic, as well as teaching her flexibility and perseverance.

    “It’s hard, and I truly think that’s what makes me who I am,” she said.

    In late May, when she competed in Springfield, she said it was bittersweet, knowing it would be one of the last shows she would engage in this year. Show season is primarily in the fall, and in August she will leave for college.

    She said she may pursue a minor in agriculture in the future and has already begun to make the connections she will need to continue working with cattle as a student in Tennessee.

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