Thornton Academy’s Jaigan Boudreau is a tenacious defender in field hockey, and hopes to compete in track and field as a discus thrower in college. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Jaigan Boudreau, a senior back on Thornton Academy’s field hockey team, was following her family’s footsteps when she started playing field hockey. Her mom, Megan, not only played it at Biddeford High, but later coached the Tigers. Her sister, Paige, played at both Biddeford and Thornton Academy.

And Jaigan Boudreau is quite accomplished, a second-team all-SMAA choice last year. Coach Lori Smith said, “In some ways, she’s our best player. She always gives 100 percent and has the turf burns to show.”

A couple years ago, she discovered track and field, specifically the discus. As a sophomore, she won the discus in the Class A state meet. As a junior, she was second. She also throws the shot put and was second at the Class A outdoor meet last year. And now she’s hoping to throw in college.

We caught up with Jaigan after a recent practice to talk about her athletic journey.

Q: You obviously are a standout in track. What does field hockey mean to you?

A: I started playing field hockey in the seventh grade because I’d been on a field since I was 1. I grew up on the field hockey field, with my mom coaching Biddeford. I would get pushed around in a stroller when they did their conditioning. So it just was kind of like what I wanted to do, what I wanted to try. But I didn’t end up trying it until seventh grade in middle school, because I was a gymnast my whole life and there’s no time for other sports when you do gymnastics. I had to quit gymnastics, so then field hockey was kind of like what I wanted to try. It’s what my family did … And it just felt right to play field hockey.

Q: Why did you have to quit gymnastics?

A: I had bad wrists.

Q: Did you specialize in anything?

A: No, I did all four events.

Q: In field hockey, you are a defensive player. Is that something you gravitated to, or is it a family position?

A: Both. My mom and sister both played back. But in middle school, I played (midfield) because that’s where someone was needed. High school came, and I definitely have a more defensive mind. If you put me at forward, I’m still going to be the last one on the field, that’s just how my mind works. I don’t like the ball behind me. I like getting it up. It just kind of fits.

Q: How did you get involved with track and throwing?

A:

Well, field hockey was my top sport going into my freshman year, and track was just something to do in the spring, just to keep me active, keep me in shape. It still wasn’t my No. 1 sport until my sophomore year when I picked up discus, and I just fell in love with discus. I started track because it was something my sister did and I wanted to be able to be on a team with her. We played hockey together, and it felt right to be on another team with her.

Q: You played ice hockey at that time too. Why was ice hockey the odd sport out?

A: Because I picked it up freshman year, just started skating my freshman year. I was on varsity, but I wasn’t going anywhere with it. After my sophomore year, throwing discus for the first time, that’s what I wanted to do. And I knew if I wanted to go to college, I needed a partnership event, and that was shot put. So I had to work on shot put during the indoor season.

Q: And your junior year you took off?

A: In shot put, yes.

Q: Why?

A: I had a fire under my bum. I’ve always competed with my sister and she had gone off to college, and I didn’t have her anymore. And she was throwing in college (at Plymouth State), and I’d get her numbers and I’d want to beat her numbers. Then in outdoor, everything clicked: my form, my release. It all just kind of fell into place.

Q: Do you know what you want to study in college?

A: Criminology or criminal justice.

Q: What do you hope to do with that?

A: Maybe become a police officer, a detective. I’ve always wanted to do some sort of law enforcement. I never thought I’d go to college. I just thought I’d go into the service. After my sophomore year, my coach told me, “You can go to college with this; you can get aid for this.”‘ That kind of pushed me more toward college.

Q: Have you followed what happened with the UMaine field hockey team when it had its game stopped because of fireworks?

A: Yes. I think it could have been handled differently. I understand that they had things that needed to be done, but football is on a different field, the fireworks could have waited till halftime or after the game. It’s a Division I game, you don’t just stop that and call it a scrimmage. That (game) counts toward their playoffs, who they’re gong to play, where they’re going to play. It could have been handled differently.

Q: I’ve been told you’re a pretty tenacious defender. How does that translate to throwing?

A: You definitely have to be aggressive in throwing. You’re throwing heavy metal objects. You’ve got to put some oomph into it for it to go somewhere. I guess the biggest thing is the leg power. You need the leg power as a defender. You need the leg power as a thrower. Lots of legs.

Q: What do you do away from athletic competition?

A: Painting, cooking. In the summer, I water ski and wake board. In the winter, I downhill ski and snowboard.

Q: Has your coach ever told you not to ski before a big meet?

A: No. My field hockey coach has said don’t hurt yourself before a big game. But I’ve never heard it for track.

Q: What would be the ideal senior year for you?

A: I’m aiming for at least what I got last year, for field hockey. I just want to keep getting better. I want to get betters PRs (in track and field). I want to keep improving throughout the season and just have fun.

Q: How is field hockey looking?

A: We’re shaping up. Once we get everything to click, we should be competitive.

Q: Is it weird when you play Biddeford, given your family connections?

A: It’s complicated because Biddeford is our biggest rival. TA and Biddeford, they don’t like each other. But it’s complicated. My sister went to Biddeford, she played for Biddeford for three years. I played with them in the summer. I see a lot of them as friends. It’s definitely weird, but it is what it is.

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