Mt. Blue field hockey goalie Brooke Bolduc applied the same tenacity, which she often demonstrates in the cage, to get accepted at a reputable college.

Her resolve and temerity paid off when the incoming senior recently made a verbal commitment to play field hockey for Merrimack College, which has been elevated to Division I in the sport this season. There is a hefty, partial scholarship for her athleticism and stellar grades that goes hand in hand with her obligation to play for the Warriors in 2020.

Her quest to get into a good school took a few twists and turns, but she is comfortable with her decision, especially after meeting with Merrimack head coach Megan Shea.

Mt. Blue goalie Brooke Bolduc kicks the ball out in the second half of a field hockey game at Caldwell Field in Farmington last fall. Bolduc will be a senior this season, but next year will head to Division Merrimack College. Tony Blasi/Sun Journal

“Multiple times over the phone while I was making my verbal commitment she said she is going to love (having) me,” Bolduc, who is the starting goalie for the Cougars, explained. “I was feeling like she was really invested to help me make my decision. 

“Academically, they have exactly what I want. They have lower numbers and the student-teacher ratio is 14 to 1. That was really importantly to me as well. I can get my masters in my fifth year. I have been there multiple times and I love it there.”

Bolduc is used to dealing with hard shots coming at her with blinding speed. The recruitment process with Merrimack was no different.

“It happened so fast. We hadn’t been talking that much, maybe a month, not even. Then it was a great fit,” Bolduc said. “She contacted me, I went there, and I made my verbal commitment within three weeks. It was very fast.

“I am super excited. I am ready to take (challenges) head on. I feel like it will be a great fit. I am so competitive. Having that athletic and academic push, it will be great for me as a person. I can grow, physically and mentally, so honestly, I am super excited.”

The scholarship money will put a big dent in Bolduc’s $56,000 college bill.

“Brooke has been diligent in her recruiting process,” Mt. Blue field hockey coach Jody Harmon said. “She had set her goal and went after it. Her hard work and dedication to field hockey is something for all players to inspire to.”

Harmon still has a year left to work with Bolduc, but even she can’t wait to see what is in store at the next step for her star backstop.

“As a coach, I am super excited for Brooke and for what her future holds. She just needs to continue to work hard as she always has and always strive to learn more, which there is no doubt in my mind that she will do just that.

“Brooke is a player from day one to always ask questions, always wanted to know how to improve, always excited to share with others anything new that she has learned and ALWAYS a team player. She is a supportive, caring and a kind teammate! I’m so thankful to have her for one more year!”

The road not taken

Merrimack College wasn’t on Bolduc’s radar when she began speaking with the University of New Hampshire this past November and April. 

But all communication between the school and her abruptly ceased.

“Then I went to a clinic and we just hadn’t talked after that,” Bolduc explained. “(UNH) had to jump ahead a year with keepers so they recruited a 2019 keeper. Typically, they don’t recruit back to back. They do it every other year. I am a 2020 keeper. They recruit a year ahead, typically.

“That was like my No. 1 for awhile, and after they stopped talking, I just didn’t get my hopes up. I just kind of went through the motions, kept emailing, and it didn’t really bother me that much. I kind of expected it, though.”

But another door opened for Bolduc, who was determined to make a commitment to a college or university before high school began in the fall.

Bolduc participated in USA Field Hockey’s Futures Program, which develops top athletes around the country and focuses on getting them ready for the possibility of playing in the Olympics. Bolduc made a connection with her goalie coach Grace Ryan, a Spruce Mountain graduate, who suggested that Bolduc consider playing for Merrimack College. Ryan reached out to Shea, who got in touch with Bolduc.

“Kids start emailing freshman year, but coaches aren’t allowed to start answering until July 15 between their sophomore and junior year,” Bolduc said. “That’s when I started emailing, and Merrimack wasn’t on my list at first until after I had done a Futures program  — and my goalie coach (Ryan) there recommended it. 

“I emailed the coach. She didn’t get back to me. I asked my Futures coach to email her and so she did. The Merrimack coach Megan Shea contacted me and asked if I wanted to go to a clinic. So that’s where I went to two weeks ago and there she offered me the position along with an athletic scholarship.”

Closer to home

Brooke’s parents, Mike and Julie Bolduc, are, of course, proud and a bit relieved their daughter is just a three-hour ride away in North Andover, Mass. — and living outside of Boston. Mom is a schoolteacher and dad is a contractor, who raised a fine daughter and a son, Hunter Bolduc, who is a three-sport athlete at the University of Maine at Farmington.

“To be honest with you, I am thrilled. It is close enough that Mike and I can jump in the car and go visit and watch her play,” Julie Bolduc said. “Some of the schools that were contacting her were as far as South Carolina. 

“Of course, it is a change from the high school scene to going to the collegiate. No more running boosters and doing different things on that we do on the sidelines. We can just take it all in.

“We are just thrilled. In knowing that this has been her ultimate goal, it makes it all the sweeter. We have been very blessed. Very blessed. They get their athleticism from their father. I will not take credit for that.”

Mike Bolduc couldn’t agree more with his wife that the proximity of the school put the entire family at ease.

“As parents, who would love to keep our kids close if we could,” Mike Bolduc said. “It is all about getting the education she wants and playing field hockey where she wants. It is a really nice town. It is a smaller campus than other schools she was looking at. Like Julie said, it is close enough where we can be there in under three hours with the traffic.”

Julie Bolduc was impressed with her daughter’s organizational skills as Brooke went through the process of interviewing coaches.

“Each school that she interviewed, she kept a notebook where she charted out every coach’s response — and she cross referenced them to compare all of their answers to them so that she was making a thorough decision, which is just incredible,” Julie said. “She has got this notebook with all of her answers.

“Even when Meg (Shea) asked her that Merrimack was going to be her home, she did her due diligence… and asked Meg all of the same questions because she felt that was only fair to have that as cross reference, and when she did that, every single answer Meg gave made us feel even more comfortable with Brooke’s decision, and made Brooke’s smile grow even bigger. It was definitely the perfect fit.”

“Each coach I contacted, I interviewed six of them,” Brooke Bolduc said. “Each one, I went through this checklist. I had a three-page checklist of questions I would ask all of them. Merrimack, I seemed to just check each one.”

Mike Bolduc is proud of how his daughter dealt with injuries and her determination find a good school. He added that unless you are a “top 10” athlete, other players are forced to pound the pavement to make coaches sit up and take notice. But when some doors closed, Brooke shook it off.

“She crossed them off her list and moved on,” Mike Bolduc said. “This whole recruiting process can be a little bit humbling and a little bit brutal.

“I am proud of how resilient she has been. She battled through some really tough injuries. Some of the things that coach Shea saw in her was that she was tenacious on the field. She communicated well with some of the players that were in front of her. She was very aggressive physically and mentally, and Meg said she had a very high ceiling for her.

“Like Julie said, after Brooke’s interview with the coach, that coach said all the right things to make us feel comfortable with her decision.

“Merrimack came along. It was something meant to be. It came about and it was an answer to prayer, and we were getting a little nervous and she was getting a little nervous. Her timeline was to get into a school before high school started this fall. There was a lot praying that something would come up, and it did and it was perfect. It is exactly what we want for her.”

It was no surprise to Harmon that Merrimack is the perfect fit for Bolduc, either.

“From Brooke’s expression on her face when she got the offer and the vast amount of majors that interest her at Merrimack, I think Merrimack is a great fit for Brooke,” Harmon said. “Brooke is one who does her homework and research. Just ask to see her recruiting notebook.”

A shoutout to coaches

Julie and Mike Bolduc applaud all the coaches, like Jody and Brian Harmon, who have given countless hours of instruction to their daughter and inspired Brooke to continue participating in the sport.

Julie added that Amy and Brian Bernatchez, former owners of the the field hockey club Majestixs, which was sold to Colby College coach Kelly Terwilliger. All three coached played an integral role in Brooke’s development as an athlete and person, but Terwillinger also played a key role in the recruiting process for Brooke.

“Back when she was in fifth grade, Brian Harmon said to Brooke one day during an indoor game, ‘Hey, we don’t have a goalie. Wanna try this out?'” Julie Bolduc recalled. “And Brooke was like, ‘Sure.’ From that day forward, they have been cheering her on and then she joined Majestixs her eighth-grade year under Amy and Brian Bernatchez, and Brian Bernachez gave her wonderful coaching and coined her ‘Wonder Woman.’ That was her nickname in Majestixs. I can’t thank all those coaches enough.”

“All the coaches have been super supportive and saw potential in her,” Mike Bolduc said.

“And three of those coaches, and not that field hockey isn’t important to them, but to them, it is more important to raise strong woman,” Julie Bolduc added. “I am sorry, but I am getting emotional, but I see that in my daughter.”

You see that determination in Brooke every time she is protecting the cage for Mt. Blue.

Volunteer and Mt. Blue High School field hockey player Brooke Bolduc watches goalie Maddy Goodwin go through a drill at a summer camp at Mt. Blue High School this past summer. Tony Blasi/Sun Journal

Mt. Blue goalie Brooke Bolduc comes out of the net to break up a shot by Lewiston sophomore midfielder Abigail Chartier in a field hockey game in Lewiston the past season. Tony Blasi/Sun Journal


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