King helps Bowdoin
to bookend titles
How do you quantify her impact on the field hockey program at Bowdoin College the past four seasons?
Olivia King (right) did not rack up an overwhelming number of goals or assists.
But from the moment she stepped onto the field as a freshman, the Brooks School graduate from Georgetown evolved into a driving force behind the Polar Bears’ success.
The 5-foot-2 King started all 83 games of her collegiate career, a remarkable feat considering she played a position, midfield, that requires an intense amount of athleticism.
And the 22-year-old wrapped up her final season at Bowdoin the same way her first season ended, with a Division 3 national championship, this time via a 1-0 win over Salisbury.
King, named Outstanding Player of the NCAA tournament, earned first-team All-America honors, along with fellow captain Katie Riley (Hingham), and sophomore Rachel Kennedy .
“She has mastered the position,” Bowdoin head coach Nicky Pearson said of King.
“She’s the sort of player that you’d think she could run forever. She just connects our team, whether it’s connecting the back to our forwards, or the right-hand side to our left-hand side. She’s been the glue and taken the team on her shoulders.”
King, who finished the year with one goal and eight assists, admitted she was surprised when she received the tournament MVP award and All-American honor.
“I love playing and I’m obviously really proud of the team,” said King, an English major.
“I keep reliving the season and the success we had. For me, it was never about the awards, but it’s really flattering to know the team gave it everything we had and my hard work paid off as well.”
She follows in the footsteps of her late sister, Taryn, an All-American at Bowdoin who died after falling ill while studying abroad in Ireland in 2006.
“Going into the season, my goal was to be named an All-Anerican,” said King. “Growing up and going to her games, and the same high school she did with the same coach, I knew what type of player she was and the standards she set for herself and what she expected from others. That was what motivated me.”
After winning the national title as a freshman, the younger King transitioned from the left wing to center midfield, an adjustment that left her a little overwhelmed as a sophomore.
“Nicky encouraged me to become a good student of the game and take ownership of the position,” King said.
Pearson called King her a coach’s dream.
“You name what you look for in a great player, whether it’s work ethic, mental toughness, leadership, and she has it all,” she said.
“Earlier in her career, after she played in the middle for the year, you just noticed how comfortable she became and her decision-making and reading of the game. Each year, one aspect of her game has grown dramatically.”
After Bowdoin lost in the third round of the NCAA tournament last season, King and Riley, along with fellow seniors Molly Paduda and Lauren Schroeder, took stock of the hard work facing them if they were to repeat the success of their freshman season.
“A lot of the reason behind why we had success and why we won the championship is that Nicky always impressed on us how each year it’s a new team. We’re not just given things’’ because the team has won in the past, King said.
“I was talking to the three other seniors and saying how it still felt surreal. We couldn’t believe we won freshman year and senior year.”
Buitkus wins honor for sportsmanship
When Steve Buitkus wasn’t terrorizing opponents on the base paths last spring at Salem State University, the Reading resident was treating them with the utmost respect and sportsmanship.
Buitkus, who finished his senior season in May with 17 stolen bases and a conference-leading 41 runs scored, received the McNally-Allard-McDonough Sportsmanship Award last weekend, presented annually by the Collegiate Baseball Umpires Association of New England.
The Reading resident was named the Player of the Year in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference after he helped the Vikings to the conference championship and a trip to the NCAA Division 3 tournament.
“Steve was a real leader and captain of our team, and he put forth maximum effort both in games and practices,” head coach Mike Ward said in an announcement on last weekend’s honor.
“I am glad that the umpires association recognized Steve for his attitude and efforts. I am also glad that Steve is now a member of our baseball coaching staff.”
Here and there
Former Malden Catholic standout Ryan Fitzgerald (North Reading) was named the Hockey East Rookie of the Month for November after putting together a seven-game point streak for Boston College. On Wednesday, he was also named to the preliminary roster for the US national junior team. . . Shawn Thornton , who has the same name as the rugged Boston Bruins right wing, was hired as the athletic director at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden. The Bridgewater State graduate has worked as the athletic director and girls’ basketball coach at Saint Clement High in Medford and Pope John XXIII High in Everett. Last season, he earned his 100th victory as a girls’ basketball coach.
Anthony Gulizia can be e-mailed at anthony.gulizia