By Hector Longo
---- — At some point in four amazing seasons at Andover High, Nicole Boudreau made that most exclusive leap from superstar to icon.
Amazingly, she’s not done. As the folks at Boston College will tell you, not even close.
Her high school accomplishments are stunning. Four seasons, three state titles, a 97-9 overall record, an area-record 2,200 career points, Parade All-American, three-time Eagle-Tribune MVP, and two-time Gatorade Mass. Player of the Year.
And again, the BC freshman has only scratched the surface on her greatness.
A unanimous choice for our 2012 Eagle-Tribune Sportsman of the Year, Boudreau made girls basketball fans out of the most unlikely candidates. Young and old, men or women … they came to follow the Warriors and watch Boudreau perform on the hardwood.
Like no other girl hoopster in area history, Boudreau guaranteed ratings.
“There was nothing better than that, we loved it when the fans were there,” said Boudreau. “There was nothing better than having our fans there, our classmates, people from all over. We surprised a lot of people with the fight we had on the court. That made us interesting. It made it interesting to watch girls basketball. And at Andover, we played better under the pressure and played better in front of a lot of people.”
As expected, Nicole refuses words like “I” or “me” when she speaks of the three titles and the accolades.
“That’s what Nicole is about, team and winning,” said Andover coach Jim Tildsley. “Stats never mattered to her, ever. Just the team and winning. It’s what made her so special.”
By “special,” Tildsley means, “the best ever” girl to play in The Eagle-Tribune area. And despite the amazing female predecessors from our region — names like Haverhill’s Kate Abromovitch and Kelly Van Huisen, Methuen’s Darlene Orlando and Jamie Cassidy, Masco’s Brianne Stepherson, Londonderry’s Kelley Hunt and Andover’s Charlotte Muller — the coach had ample ammunition in his arsenal to proclaim Boudreau as the greatest.
Boudreau’s greatest task — one she’s proud to undertake — lies dead ahead. Currently, she is the cornerstone of a Boston College basketball reformation, in which the Eagles hope to grow from the bottom up.
While BC takes baby steps at 6-5 (matching her loss total for the final three seasons at AHS), Boudreau boldly speaks about the NCAA Tournament, and an Eagles’ return to the big dance.
“We’re going to grow together and make the NCAA Tournament,” said Boudreau, who leads the Eagles in minutes at 34.7 a night and is second in scoring at 12.4 points a game.
“I’m a competitor. I don’t like to lose. We’re getting better. We’re rebuilding. It’s all part of the growing process. We’re going to have to work at it. It’s never going to be easy. But we will get there.”
As she continues to make the transition from high school into the ACC, Boudreau will always look back on 2012 fondly.
The storybook season at Andover High and her era with the Golden Warriors may never be matched.
“I guess we could have won four state titles,” she said, only half-joking.
“Nothing could have topped this, going out undefeated state champs like we did. Even losing our freshman year made the title season all the more special. They are memories I’ll never forget.”
And because of Boudreau’s amazing exploits, neither will Andover, the Merrimack Valley and the entire Bay State.