The first time I met Shaunessy Saucier was in 1999 at the National Futures Tournament in College Park, Md. On a hot afternoon on the University of Maryland’s recreational turf, I sat down to talk with her mother Dorothy, a field hockey coach from Old Town, Maine.
Old Town is a village of about 8,000 located in the center of the state, a few miles from the University of Maine in Orono. It’s a place which is not for the faint of heart when it comes to winter weather; most every car has a block heater, most every house has some sort of heating gadget to melt snow off the roof before it got too heavy.
Dorothy Saucier, who has coached at Old Town for decades, told tales of the program at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, which had a team since the inception of World War II, and had a distinct home-field advantage late in the year, when snow would pose an occupational hazard for the players.
Shaunessy Saucier was at the NFT, playing for the New England Region team and doing pretty well. Little did I know that, a decade later, she would become an NCAA Division I coach at Bryant University.
Bryant, a financially foundering school in the mid-1990s, made strong infrastructure investments and increased endowment towards the turn of the century. In addition, the school made a bid for admission to NCAA Division I in 2007.
It’s while the school made its move that Saucier made her impact as head coach of the Bulldogs. Recruiting heavily from her home state, she made the team a factor by the time the 2013 season unfolded. The Bulldogs went 11-7 that year, all the while riding the ragged edge. In October alone, Bryant went into overtime five times.
The wheels fell off the last few years; Bryant went 4-14 last fall, but did have the fourth best GPA of any NCAA Division I team.
Saucier announced her resignation today to become the head coach and owner of the Black Bear Elite field hockey club back in Orono. In point of fact, she is crossing the Piscataqua Bridge to go back home.
I have a feeling she’s going to do great things while she’s there. She’s too good a hockey mind not to.