HARWICH — When Monomoy senior Caitlin Bouvier was in seventh grade, longtime area field hockey coach Cheryl Poore held an informational meeting about joining her Reach Field Hockey Camp. Bouvier was intrigued and told her parents she wanted to give the sport a try. Fast forward a few years, and Bouvier has signed on to play for the St. Joseph's College Monks in the fall.
Bouvier's love of the sport began not long after she started playing and deepened after then head-coach Addie Weeks asked who might want to give goalkeeping a try. Though unsure, Bouvier decided to step into the net. That seemingly innocuous decision proved life-changing.
“I'm so glad I started playing field hockey,” Bouvier said after her official signing at MRHS on Dec. 4. “It has been my outlet through the very tough times. It always makes me feel better.”
Bouvier said what attracted her to the sport was its speed and intensity, as well as the importance of communication between players on the field. Since 2017, she has been a goalkeeper for the varsity squad, earning a top goalie nod at the end of her junior season with a goals allowed against percentage of .66. This season Bouvier was given the team sportsmanship award for her tireless enthusiasm and dedication.
“I love how fast it is and how you have to think about how to handle that split second,” Bouvier said about the moments when opponents approach the net. “What you do in that split second can mean the difference between having an amazing save or a goal going in. That's the part I really like about it.”
But for Bouvier, it isn't just the on-field intensity or the camaraderie between teammates that inspired her to strive for a college career. It was the way that field hockey ultimately changed her life.
Prior to picking up a stick, Bouvier said she was painfully shy and often walked to classes and practices with her head down. Though she gave her all to learning the sport, participating in off-season clubs and programs, including Cape Cod Youth Field Hockey, clinics at Compass Athletics in Sandwich, and the Cape Cod Field Hockey Club, her confidence was still challenged by internal struggles.
Little by little, field hockey changed that.
“It has helped me come out of my shell a lot,” Bouvier said. “In my college essay on field hockey I wrote about how it brought me out of my shell and made me less shy. I've gotten louder as a person, and I'm definitely more confident. Being a goalie has helped me overcome that. I'm a whole new person.”
The sport also helped her through some difficult personal times, including challenges at school and the passing of her grandmother, Patricia Shelley, to ovarian cancer just a few weeks ago. Bouvier said that while field hockey didn't take the sting out of losing her grandmother, it gave her a way to channel her energy.
“Field hockey has helped me to do something so I'm not having to dwell on it,” Bouvier said.
The sport, and the confidence it instilled, also inspired Bouvier to follow in her grandmother's footsteps and become a nurse, which is a main reason she chose St. Joseph's, a small Catholic college on the shores of Sebago Lake in Standish, Maine, though it helped that head coach Rupert Lewis has been trying to recruit Bouvier since her sophomore year.
“When I was a sophomore with my club team, Cape Cod Field Hockey Club, I was at a tournament called Shooting Stars in N.H. A couple days after that, the St. Joe's coach reached out to me,” Bouvier said.
Lewis told her he'd seen her play and was interested in having her on his team when the time came. This September, Lewis emailed Bouvier, again expressing interest in recruiting her. The two exchanged phone calls in which the coach told Bouvier about the program. The calls led to a visit, during which the coach again asked if she wanted to play for the Monks. It turned out that Lewis knew that Bouvier had already been accepted into the school's nursing program, but wanted the news to come from her admissions advisor. When Bouvier received word of her acceptance, Coach Lewis told her she was the first nursing student to be accepted into the program so early in roughly 15 years.
Bouvier said that when she enters the nursing program, she will continue to draw inspiration from her grandmother.
“My Nana was a nurse for 51 years. She told me all the great things she'd done,” Bouvier said. “I love the idea of helping people, which is why I chose to be a nurse. Even now, I love helping my friends.”
Being a field hockey goalkeeper, Bouvier said, has helped prepare her for the challenges she'll meet when in college and when she begins work after earning her degree.
“It helped me with real-life situations,” Bouvier said. “On and off the field. When you're a nurse, you have to make quick decisions. When I eventually become a nurse, I feel like being a goalie has prepared me to make critical decisions in that split second.”
To say that Bouvier is grateful would be an understatement. She also knows she didn't achieve her goals on her own.
“I would really love to give a huge shoutout to Courtney Cappallo, owner of CCFHC, and Kerry Bergquist, goalie coach for CCFHC,” Bouvier said. “They have been basically the reason why I'm where I'm at today.”
Bouvier is also grateful for her parents, Denise and Michael, and grandfather Robert, who have, along with her grandmother prior to her passing, cheered her on throughout her career. Friends Andrew Davock and Justus Canto have also stood by Bouvier throughout her high school career. Bouvier hopes that along with her family, Davock and Canto will get to see her play in college. For now, Bouvier is concentrating on making the rest of her senior year memorable, even as her excitement about attending one of her top choice colleges grows.
“I'm just so excited,” Bouvier said. “I just love the sport and the school.”