Matt Bolduc achieved his dream of playing professional soccer

  • Matt Bolduc of Hancock has been playing professional soccer for the Richmond Kickers of the United Soccer League for the last two seasons. TIM GOODWIN / Ledger Transcript staff—

  • Matt Bolduc of Hancock has been playing professional soccer for the Richmond Kickers of the United Soccer League for the last two seasons. COURTESY PHOTO

  • Matt Bolduc of Hancock has been playing professional soccer for the Richmond Kickers of the United Soccer League for the last two seasons. COURTESY PHOTO

  • Matt Bolduc of Hancock has been playing professional soccer for the Richmond Kickers of the United Soccer League for the last two seasons. TIM GOODWIN / Ledger Transcript staff—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/3/2019 11:53:30 AM

When Matt Bolduc was younger, his doctor would always ask what he wanted to be when he grew up.

And for as long as the 24-year-old from Hancock can remember, he always had the same answer: a professional soccer player.

Sure, a lot of kids dream about being an athlete at the highest level, but it’s a goal that is not easy to achieve. It takes a certain level of dedication, natural skill and, to a certain degree, some luck.

But almost every decision Bolduc has made since he was 13 years old was working toward a career as a soccer player. From what school he went to and which teams he played for – and it all paid off.

Bolduc just wrapped up his second season as a midfielder for the Richmond Kickers (Virginia) of the United Soccer League, which is one tier below Major League Soccer in the American soccer league system.

Unfortunately, after a strong showing in his first season with the Kickers, last season didn’t quite go as planned. He first came down with mono in March just before the season started. It wasn’t until August where Bolduc felt ready for an entire 90-minute match. He played sparingly over the next dozen games before an Achilles strain ended his season before it really had a chance to get going.

“I was expecting to play in almost every game,” Bolduc said.

But one lost season isn’t about to derail Bolduc’s drive to play the sport he has spent so many years mastering. All he has to do is look back at that first year with Richmond to know he has plenty of games left before his playing days are over.

After signing a contract three months into the 2017 season, Bolduc appeared in the last 11 games and had two-game winning goals and an assist. The future looked bright as he signed a two-year contract with a club option for a third following the season.

“That first season got me a contract for the next year,” he said.

And despite the fact that the franchise is in the midst of being sold, which nullifies all player contracts, Bolduc is confident he has shown enough in his two years with the organization to be brought back for a third season.

“And there’s very little job security in professional soccer, especially the lower level in the U.S.,” he said. “But I’m going to end up back in Richmond; there’s no question in my mind.”

The way Bolduc got connected with the Kickers is a testament to the kind of player he has been over the years. His coach for two years at The Winchendon School, Adrian Clewlow, took a job with the Kickers as the team’s goalie coach a few years ago. He knew Bolduc was looking for an opportunity, so he helped facilitate a tryout. And he made enough of an impression to earn an invitation to preseason camp.

“(Clewlow) was one of the main reasons I went to The Winchendon School,” Bolduc said.

He trained with Richmond for a few months before signing a deal and then proved why he should be kept around.

He played his seventh grade season at South Meadow School and then decided to focus his time to travel soccer.

“At that age, it was getting really competitive,” Bolduc said. “For my development, club soccer was the better option for me.”

Bolduc spent his first two years of high school playing midfield at the Dublin School, scoring 12 goals, before transferring to The Winchendon School

As a forward his junior and senior season, Bolduc compiled 36 goals and finished his four-year career with 38 assists between the two programs. He was then named to the Region 1 Olympic Development Program, and it was a tournament in Alabama that led to the next phase of his soccer career.

He landed on the radar of many college programs, getting more than 60 offers, including seven from Division I schools. He ended up choosing UMass-Amherst, where he received a half athletic scholarship, starting 12 games as a freshman.

“There were a lot of schools, all the way from Division III to DI,” Bolduc said.

He left the school after one year to pursue a professional career and spent eight games with Mass United of the American Soccer League in 2015.

“For me, I was going to do anything I could to achieve this goal of playing professional soccer,” Bolduc said.

In March of 2016, Bolduc got his first professional contract with the Harrisburg City Islanders (Pennsylvania), playing in 19 games.

Next year, if Bolduc ends up back in Richmond, it will be a redemption year for both him and the team. The Kickers only won six games this past season, so a better showing is the hope – while Bolduc tries to get his career up and running again.

“It was a down year for me,” he said.

At only 24, Bolduc firmly believes he has many years left on the pitch. He wants to play till he’s at least 30, but if this past year told him anything, is that his career won’t last forever. So he’s making plans for life after soccer – a career in coaching it.

“It’s never too early to plan for your next career,” he said.

He’d like to get involved with youth soccer because he’ll never forget those early days of playing with Peterborough Recreation. He learned from great area coaches like Tod Silegy, attending his camps and later returning as a counselor, and Suleyman Doenmez. And all those trips to Bedford for training sessions with his travel team the N.H. Classics and days in the car traveling to games as far away as Pennsylvania and Virginia were totally worth it.

“That was basically my life my entire childhood,” he said.

So it’s safe to say the sport has consumed much of his life, but he wouldn’t trade it for any job in the world.


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