HERKIMER, N.Y. — Former T-Bird, Mitchell Bourdeau (MVU class of 2019), joined the Herkimer Generals’ soccer team this fall at Herkimer Community College in Herkimer, NY.
Herkimer Community College caught Bourdeau’s attention after talking with his middle school soccer coach, Gary LaShure, who attended the school.
“He told me about the regional and national championships the teams had won, and that motivated me to start my collegiate career there,” said Bourdeau.
Herkimer, a two-year school, prepares student-athletes to move on to a four-year college where they will earn their bachelor’s degree, hopefully with an athletic scholarship.
The level of skill at Herkimer didn’t disappoint Bourdeau, and neither did the team’s record.
The Generals finished the regular season undefeated and conceded the least goals to opponents in the region.
They hosted the NJCAA National Championship on their home field, falling 2-1 in the final seconds of the championship game to Richland College (Dallas, TX).
“I didn’t get to experience a championship game in high school. It was fun to see how the team treated the situation and to see the excitement and fire behind every player.”
Bourdeau began the season coming off the bench as a left-back, a change for an athlete who played as a striker and winger in high school.
As the season progressed, he played some minutes as a striker and ended on the left-wing, playing 30 minutes in most of the games.
“We had guys from all over the world and they had a lot of talent,” said Bourdeau. “I wanted to attend a college with a diverse community. My roommate is from St. Kitts.”
“It was cool to see all the different cultures and how they mixed on the soccer field.”
Not all of the players were fluent in English, but that didn’t affect the game.
“We can understand each other even with a language barrier,” said Bourdeau. “There’s a mutual understanding among the players. The whole team was so close; we are always together.”
The team began practicing in August and played their final game last weekend.
“It was interesting to see snow on the ground while we were still playing,” said Bourdeau. “It changes the game a little bit.”
Bourdeau has been playing soccer since he was three years old. He got his start with the Swanton and St. Albans Recreation programs.
“I loved the game as soon as I started playing,” said Bourdeau. “I’d be preparing for the next season as soon as the last one ended.”
He went on to play club soccer through high school, playing for Queen City and Nordic Premier.
He made varsity as a freshman and played for head coach, Jim Hubbard.
“Coach Hubbard was a big part of my experience through high school,” said Bourdeau. “He was very proud of the players who went through his program, whether they went on to play in college or not.”
Bourdeau also appreciated the help of Bill Therber, a longtime teacher, coach, and videographer for MVU.
“Mr. Thurber has done a lot to help me become the player I am today,” said Bourdeau.
“He stayed after practice to work on technical parts of the game, brought soccer balls to the field or gym on his own time to give us more opportunity to play, and filmed games to help show us where and what to improve.”
Thurber watched Bourdeau grow up.
“I remember watching Mitchell work with Jim Hubbard at MVU when he was in the fourth grade,” said Thurber. “He had rosy cheeks and was already scoring lots of goals.”
Thurber recalled a few games he especially enjoyed during Bourdeau’s high school years.
“Mitchell was playing with Riverhawks/Queen City North. He scored a left-footed arrow past the keeper against #1 Lake Region in 2017 to tie the game before halftime,” said Thurber.
“The next summer, he hit a 30 yard, bar-down banger against Nordic.”
“In the 2018 season, he hit “the Crane shot” on an excellent German goalie against Arlington and physically shook off a big defender to tie against Milton,” said Thurber.
“In the Senior Game, to qualify for Twin State, he assisted on goals and scored with his head--maybe for the first time!”
Not one to forget his roots, Bourdeau kept his eye on the MVU team this season, checking on game scores and watching the standings. He especially enjoyed the playoff win MVU earned against Hartford.
“I was so proud of MVU,” said Bourdeau. “Hartford took us down in playoffs last year. Even though I wasn’t part of the win against Hartford this year, it was good to see!”
Thinking back on his years at MVU, Bourdeau recalled his favorite games.
“Every BFA under the lights game stood out to me, regardless of the score. There was always a big crowd, and it was surreal.”
“I grew up with the MVU guys and played with them throughout my school years. You get to know them, and they really become part of your family.”