Hunter Bolduc plays soccer and baseball and skis for the University of Maine at Farmington. Sun Journal photo by Tony Blasi

FARMINGTON — Ask three-sport athlete Hunter Bolduc to name his favorite pastime at the University of Maine at Farmington and he will give you a politician’s answer.

“Which ever one is in season,” Bolduc, who plays soccer, baseball and skis for UMF, said.

“He’s been saying that forever when people ask what’s his favorite sport,” said Michael Bolduc, Hunter’s proud father.

Hunter Bolduc played all three in high school and he intends to continue participating in each sport for the next three years at UMF.

“That’s the plan,” the 2018 Mt. Blue High School graduate said.

But Bolduc knew this Herculean, three-sport endeavor would be physically demanding as well as place unrelenting pressure on himself in the classroom as each season blends into another.

“A little bit (of pressure) at first, but once you figure out the time management, it is not as bad as it seems,” Bolduc said.

He understood he would be riding a merry-go-round during the entire academic year, but he just couldn’t pass on any one sport. 

“It is pretty much a year-round thing once you start,” Hunter said.

The University of Maine at Farmington’s Hunter Bolduc races during a competition. (University of Maine at Farmington photo)

Since he began attending UMF in September, he has had a one-week respite from sports —  and that was between the soccer and skiing seasons.

“Couldn’t imagine giving up one of those sports because from playing all three in high school to playing maybe one or two — I just couldn’t imagine doing that,” Bolduc said. “I couldn’t make up my mind if I was going to drop one, so I said, ‘Nope, I am not going to do it.’”

“When he talked to the coaches and the admission people about doing this, they said they only know of only so many people who have done it, and it is really hard, and I think he just took it as a challenge,” Michael Bolduc, who is a building contractor and an avid outdoorsman, said. “I am ecstatic for him. Julie (wife) and I are super proud of him.”

“Going into it, I was not sure he can pull this off, and so far he has done it, you know. He has done well enough to keep playing and he has done better this semester.” 

Sports, like his passion for the great outdoors, has influenced and shaped Hunter’s life — and giving up just one sport would be like giving up fishing or hunting. Hunter is also an avid outdoorsman, who has spent some early mornings in the woods hunting or fishing before classes have begun.

“As long as it is not a game day,” he said. “Usually, it is on days where we don’t have a practice — just don’t want to overwork my body.”

Hunter Bolduc tosses the ball for the University of Maine at Farmington baseball team (University of Maine at Farmington photo) Jeff Lamb Photography

But like being outdoorsman, sports has always been integral role in his life.

“I think I like sports just because one, it is something to do outside of school,” Bolduc said. “The team aspect of it is a big part of it. The friendships that you create on a team, especially at the college level and the high school level, those are the tightest friendships you will create ever, so that is probably my favorite part about it.”

But seasons change and so does Bolduc, who was determined to excel in his studies while spending his time on the playing field or slopes.

“Just the fact that I don’t want to give up any one of my sports because I love them so much and striving to get my degree, to know that it is possible if I put my mind to it and keep pushing,” he said. “I get to say that I got to play all of my three favorite sports in college as well as high school.”

UMF COMES KNOCKING

The Beavers’ baseball and ski teams began recruiting the strapping lad from Farmington. But soccer was a different story. He was a walk-on who made the cut despite going up against stiff competition.

“I was recruited mostly for skiing and baseball. Soccer was more of a walk-on (thing),” Bolduc, who played forward for the team, said.

“Hunter began his UMF career as a member of the men’s soccer program,” UMF men’s soccer coach Nathan Kronewetter said. “Starting classes for the first time in college and being asked to perform at a high level on the athletic field is very difficult to do well and requires a large window for adjustment. 

“Hunter experienced some struggles balancing both hats but ultimately prevailed as a great teammate and an important member in the program.

“There is a large learning curve between high school athletics and collegiate sports. Hunter will take what he learned and experienced this past year and will apply himself over the summer months to be a much more beneficial member of our program next season. He is hard working, reliable, positive and driven. Good things are ahead of Hunter at UMF in athletics.”

Kronewetter said Bolduc’s venture to play three sports for the Beavers is remarkable.

“To play two sports in college is something that many places won’t allow and or encourage,” Kronewetter said. “Each program’s routine is to actively encompass the student-athlete so that they work on that particular sport’s craft year-round. 

“UMF is an exception to many places as we embrace student-athletes who wish to pursue multiple sports. By doing this, we help promote a strong bond between programs in the athletic department along with helping student-athletes enjoy passion for each of the sports. To play three sports at the collegiate level and to do them well, this is a rarity in our current culture.”

HITTING SLOPES, TAKING SWINGS

UMF snow sports director Scott Hoisington describes Bolduc as an athlete with a can-do attitude who always supports his teammates and coaches.

Bolduc was always fearless on the snowy slopes at Titcomb Mountain for the Mt. Blue Alpine team. UMF offered him an opportunity to remain on the cold, wind-blown mountain as a competitor. 

“He was injured for the first half of the season but became a contributor and helped the team down the stretch,” Hoisington said. “He was our second-best freshman this year. Any coach would love to have Hunter on his roster. He will always give you 100 percent.”

But just as the ski season ended, Bolduc found himself in the greener pastures of a baseball diamond. 

Leavitt’s Allen Peabody (28) is dives toward home plate, where he is greeted by Mt. Blue catcher Hunter Bolduc for the out. Sun Journal photo by Tony Blasi

“Hunter started about five weeks after the rest of the team due to participating in skiing,” UMF head baseball coach Chris Bessey said. “He is working hard to get caught up and has shown an eagerness to get better everyday. He demonstrates a good knowledge of the game and a strong work ethic. 

“Hunter is a hard worker and has a very positive approach to his environment, he is very confident is his abilities in all three sports.  He is also a great teammate that supports them in a positive way. He is willing to do what is necessary to help the team be successful.”

But Bessey also pointed out that making such a huge commitment to three sports could also take a toll on the academic side for Bolduc.

“First concern would be academically, carrying a full load of classes and combined with two-hour practices, six days a week, plus strength and conditioning with no break during the year can wear on an individual,” Bessey said.  “Second would be missing time with each sport, (including) fall baseball for soccer, spring skiing for baseball, spring soccer for baseball, etc.”

ONLY GAME IN TOWN

For Bolduc, the university offered him a chance to play sports and still enjoy his other passion — the outdoors.

“I love it just because it’s (UMF) more of a hometown feel, specially where it is in my hometown,” Bolduc pointed out. “I like how it is incorporated into the town, not really a separate campus, so it doesn’t necessarily feel like you are at school all the time.” 

He is studying environmental policy and planning and has his heart set on becoming a Maine warden.

Bolduc offers some common-sense advice for athletes who dare to become a three-sport athlete at the college level.

“Focus on your time management,” Bolduc said. “Get that figured out early. That makes your life a lot easier. Know what you want to do going into college. Do not wait and think about what you want to do. 

“I find that if I had an undecided major and constantly worrying about what I wanted to do when I got out of school, I feel like I would be more stressed out. … Since the beginning of my school career I knew exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It has been kind of a stress release and getting my school work done and playing sports.”

But Bolduc insists his non-stop schedule doesn’t wear on him. He enjoys leading an active life. Sitting still is not for him.

“I think my dad is pretty excited that I can still play all the sports that I love and he likes traveling to games,” Bolduc said. “He came to almost every soccer game this past season even trips to Vermont … he enjoys being able to come and watch. 

“He likes getting to know the whole team as well and being able to be there and support us as a team. He likes being able to do that.”

But Bolduc is grateful and understands that’s what involved fathers from supportive families do for their appreciative sons who are making their way and mark in the world.