Ruthie Laroche – Messenger Sports
Tucker Gaudette, known in high school as a tough, athletic guard with good speed on the offensive line, played his first season of college football at Castleton University in 2018.
Taking a role on a college team can be a challenge, but his hard work paid big dividends.
“I started as second-string left tackle, but our starter dislocated his shoulder in the first game, and I had the opportunity to start. Sadly for him, it was a season-ending injury,” said Gaudette.
Gaudette, a guard in high school, didn’t have a lot of experience as a tackle.
“The coaches told me that with my taller build I’d be better suited to a tackle. They felt I had the mobility and agility they were looking for.”
Even though he’d only been a college player for a few weeks, Gaudette had already learned enough to prepare him for the task ahead.
“College football is a lot faster than high school football,” explained Gaudett.
Gaudette got a firsthand look at the difference in a scrimmage when he faced off against a Spartan defensive lineman.
“He blew right past me!” said Gaudette with a chuckle. “You have to be ready as soon as the ball is snapped.”
Commitment was the first word that came to mind when Gaudette recalled the daily grind of the season.
“It’s like a full-time job; you have to be fully dedicated,” said Gaudette.
Games are played on Saturday, and as soon as the last play is complete, the team prepares for the next contest.
Sunday is set aside for recovery activities, Monday is the only day off, Tuesday through Thursday the coaches prepare the team for the upcoming game with film and a lengthy practice.
Friday is the travel day if the week’s game is away, a preparation day if they’re playing at home.
On Saturday, all the week’s work is put to the test.
“College games are much louder and you must pay attention. The team has a 115 man roster and there are lots of people yelling and cheering.”
Gaudette recalled a few of the more memorable games he played in during the 2018 season.
“The game against Husson was freezing with sleet and rain falling. I had a bad game, and we didn’t play our best as a team. It was tough mentally and physically.”
The Norwich game also stood out to Gaudette. Norwich and Castleton are rivals in Vermont, and each year the teams play for a Sap Bucket trophy.
“The crowd is huge, emotions are always high, and there’s tension between the players,” said Gaudette.
Castleton lost that game against Norwich last year, relinquishing the coveted sap bucket that the Spartans had won the year before.
“We’re looking for redemption this year,” said Gaudette.
The Spartans won two regular-season games in 2018, the first against Fitchburg
State the second game of the season. That was Gaudette’s first college start.
“Everything we prepped for happened and everyone was on the same page,” noted Gaudette with a smile.
The second win came on Senior Day against Alfred State.
“The Alfred State defense did do something we weren’t expecting; we improvised, and it worked!” said Gaudette enthusiastically. “Three out of the five people on the offensive line at that time were freshmen and we had a freshman quarterback. It was cool to see how much we had changed in the season from the beginning to the end.”
Gaudette received two awards for his play last season, but he’s not resting on his laurels.
“I’m going back humble, I got the awards but I’m not letting it get to me. I’m going to work as hard as I did before,” said Gaudette.
Gaudette was named Impact Player of the Year, an award given to a Spartan freshman and voted on by the team.
He was also named an ECFC First Team All-Conference player, an award given by the conference and voted on by the conference coaches.
“One of the things that made me better was going against a teammate-Chris Rice. He was also a first-team All-Conference player this year. Working with him made me better.”
The two young men took time after practice to take extra reps.
“He played defense so I’d play against him. He’d give me tips on how to block a defensive player. He’s a grade above me so he had a year of experience at the college level,” said Gaudette. “He really helped me out a lot.”
College athletics require lots of effort on the part of athletes, but there are many upsides that reach beyond the physical game play.
“We have a great football family at Castleton. We’re always talking, and there’s good chemistry.”
The strength of the relationships he’s made at Castleton surprised him.
“When I got to preseason last year, I didn’t know anyone. By the time preseason camp was over, I’d made friends that will be in my wedding one day,” said Gaudette with a laugh. His high school days may be in the rearview, but Gaudette credits them for the success he’s enjoyed at the next level.
“Our work ethic at BFA helped prepare me for college,” said Gaudette.
Gaudette noted that the offensive strategies used at BFA were beneficial to his college career.
“We ran the ball a lot in high school which means it was physical every play. In college, you have to be physical in every play, whether it’s a running play or a throwing play. Your opponents are always trying to get to you.”
Gaudette also thanked his BFA coaches.
“Coach Murray, Coach Carlton, and Coach Howrigan helped me out with everything I needed and gave me tips to get better.”
Friday nights under the lights at Collins Perely were always memorable.
“Our crowds were always good. Even in a tough season, they’d still be out there cheering.”
Gaudette’s love for football started early. His parents Kristin and Todd were football fans; they watched weekly games, hosted super bowl parties, and attended high school games.
Gaudette’s cousin Jamie Holbrook, who played football for Milton and later for Southern Connecticut State University, was an inspiration.
“Jamie’s six years older than me. I watched his high school games every Friday, and when he was in college, I was able to watch his college games.”
Gaudette’s own football career began with the St. Albans Steelers program.
“I knew right away that I was going to like the sport. I’ve always been a big kid, and football was a great fit for me.”
Gaudette also recognized his Steelers coaches for the impact they had on him when he was young.
“Rob Cioffi was a good mentor for me during Steeler football,” said Gaudette,”and Carl Laroe was my coach from the fourth to eighth grade. He was an old school coach, and you had to work hard for him.
“The Steelers program taught good fundamentals and prepared me for high school. I learned how to tackle and we ran a lot; we were always one of the best-conditioned teams on the field,” said Gaudette.
Kris Sabourin, who now heads the Steelers program, ran the strength and conditioning workouts during Gaudette’s tenure on the BFA varsity team.
“Kris knows the game and he made sure we were in shape,” explained Gaudette. “He puts the work in himself, and he expects that from the players.”
Gaudette is not alone in his success. In recent years several Bobwhites have played football at Castleton University. Darren and Dylan Callan and Jordan Stone all played at Castleton.
“They were known as some of the hardest working players on the Castleton team. That’s the BFA tradition,” said Gaudette.
As the college season gets underway, Gaudette shared something he keeps close to him every day.
“Our team motto at BFA was ‘never let good enough be enough.’ There is always something you can work toward.”