This spring, former Black Bears women’s hockey player, Eve Boissonneault, will be trading in her skates for a pair of track spikes.
Boissonneault, a third-year student from Sudbury, Ontario, made the difficult decision this winter to stop playing hockey, a move she says was motivated by academics.
“I left the hockey team mostly to focus on my academics and to start building my resume to apply to medical school”, Boissonneault said. “Hockey was very time consuming and I wanted to dedicate more time to my education.”
However, competitive by nature, Boissoneault felt like she was missing something and after talking with the coaches, she figured joining the track and field team could be something that would work for her.
“The track schedule is a little more flexible with practice times and things like that, so that allows me to focus on school while also competing, which works nicely,” Boissonneault said.
Boissonneault ran track in high school, but never really committed to the sport and only ran a few races each year. Despite the lack of training, she experienced success in both the 800-meter and 1,500-meter runs, with personal bests of 2:20 and 4:55 respectively. This potential is something that was immediately evident to track and field Head Coach Mark Lech.
“I wish I’d been working with her this whole time because I think she’s got even better potential in track than she did in hockey,” Lech said.
Boissonneault’s transition is especially impressive when considering the events she will be running. Hockey is filled with short bursts of speed, something completely opposite from what she’ll be experiencing when running pace-based races like the 800-meter and 1,500-meter runs, something which Boissonneault acknowledges.
“Hockey is such a different sport [compared to track] and the training is very different, so my cardio is not very good right now,” Boissonneault said. “It’s frustrating but hopefully it comes back pretty quickly.”
For Lech, the transition to coaching a former hockey player is new for him as well.
“We’ve had hockey players come in before and throw the javelin for us, but we’ve never had one come into an event that requires a significant amount of aerobic activity like the 800 or the 1,500,” Lech said.
Boissonneault’s first chance to test her cardio came this past Saturday as the Black Bears held their first track meet of the outdoor season. Boissonneault competed in the 800-meter run, recording a time of 2:26.97, good for an eighth-place finish. Despite it being just her first meet since high school, Boissonneault felt a little disappointed with her race.
“I feel okay about my first performance, I was hoping to run under 2:25 but that was probably a little too ambitious since I haven’t ran in three years,” the former hockey player said. “I think I need to improve on holding a faster pace.”
For Boissonneault, that faster pace will come in the next several weeks as she becomes more accustomed to the cardio and endurance needed to compete in the middle-distance events.
Coach Lech, however, was very pleased with her performance at the meet.
“I was extremely impressed,” Lech said. “She’s only had a month or so of training so it’s still very early on in the process for her, but for her to be running a time like that already is great.”
Boissonneault is already looking ahead to the rest of the season, and in particular, lowering her 800-meter time.
“I’d like to get my time down to at least 2:23,” she said, a goal which coach Lech agrees is definitely attainable.
“As she gets more accustomed to the training and starts to get more in shape, there’s no doubt she can hit 2:23.”
It’s these goals that make track, and running in general, enjoyable for Boissonneault, and is what she missed about the sport.
“I like pushing myself and trying to beat my times, even in practice,” she said. “I like having goals and working towards them.”
Boissonneault will have another chance this weekend to reach her goal of 2:23 as the track and field team is in action on Saturday, April 9, at the University of New Hampshire.