Ali (McCoy) Farrell chuckled at the question.
All things considered, does the longtime Andover resident now consider herself a Mainer?
“I don’t think you’re allowed to be called a Mainer unless you were born and raised here,” said Farrell, a 2004 Andover High graduate who, as Ali McCoy, was a standout in both field hockey and lacrosse for the Golden Warriors. “But I would say yes.”
The way Farrell has immersed herself in Maine society since moving to Camden, Maine, three and a half years ago would certainly justify that affirmative.
Since moving to Maine, Farrell has written a novel, “Pretty Combat,” a solution-based book that addresses issues of a personal nature with a Maine slant. She also has two books written that are due out soon, “Pretty Rugged — Women in the Fishing Industry” and a children’s book, “Lobster Girl Can,” both of which deal with Maine’s fishing issues.
She is also owner and founder of Sea Street Publishing and a photographer working for herself under Ali Farrell Photography.
But what has probably made her most beloved by Mainers is her current project in which she founded, “Maine’s Working Waterfront — Seafood Connect,” that connects fishermen directly to consumers.
“While writing my book (“Pretty Rugged”), I got close to people in the fishing industry and I found how they have been struggling, but the coronavirus has made it much worse,” she said. “They (fishermen) export so much and rely on restaurants to buy from them, and now that’s been taken away from them.
“They have lobsters in their traps, but since everything has closed down, they have no buyers and no outlets. I figured if I could act as a connector, we could get people the food they need while keeping the fishermen going.”
“What we’ve been doing (through the ‘Working Waterfront — Seafood Connect’) locally is eliminating the middle man. Through our Facebook page, we’ve been placing fishermen up and down the coast in certain locations and they sell the fish from their cars. It’s a drive through situation and people can find through Facebook where and when to buy.”
Thus far, the transactions have been primarily for lobster, but Farrell anticipates widening the selection to include more crab, scallops, clams and haddock.
Within one day of starting that Facebook connection, Farrell said she took in orders for 960 pounds of lobster from nearly 49 interested buyers.
“So far, it’s gone really well with a great response, but this is just a start,” said Farrell. “The fishermen need a lot of help.”
That Farrell reacted quickly to the coronavirus impact on fishermen is of no surprise to her former field hockey coach at Andover, Maureen Noone. She responded to the situation like she played as a midfielder.
“She was super aggressive and very quick to the ball,” said Noone. “She was our Coaches Award winner and played a big role in our MVC championship team.”
Moreover, Farrell has always been proactive. She still remembers going around Andover with her mother as a middle schooler to circulate a petition to start a lacrosse program at Andover High. The effort proved successful because the program started when she was in the eighth grade.
With the background in two sports in high school, with coaches like Noone, Farrell believes it’s helped her achieve things that, at first, don’t seem quite possible.
“I feel sports are so important and can teach you so much, that no matter how hard something is, you can get there,” said Farrell. “I remember she (Noone) pushed us really hard and it was tough for us at times, but later you realize why she did it.”
Farrell is hoping that the same lessons will be learned by her two children, 7-year-old daughter MacKenzie and 4-year-old son Callan. So far, they have two attributes that are dear to their mother’s heart.
“They like to be active ... (and) they love to eat fish,” said Farrell. “I was the same way (growing up) in Andover.”