Raider Nicole Thurston named WMC field hockey player of the year

Nicole Thurston holds the Linda B. Whitney Award for being selected the WMC top field hockey player. She is pictured with FA varsity field hockey coach Dede Frost, who is holding Nicole's Raider plaque.

Nicole Thurston (right) holds the Linda B. Whitney Award for being selected the WMC top field hockey player. She is pictured with FA varsity field hockey coach Dede Frost, who is holding Nicole's Raider plaque.

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

FRYEBURG — Nicole Thurston doesn’t quite remember why she decided to play field hockey, but at the age of 4, she quickly found a love for the game.

“I honestly don’t remember why, but I started with Coach Frost’s youth camp at the age of 4 and I stuck with it. She taught me the love of the game and I never looked back,” Nicole said.

She made the right choice.

A senior at Fryeburg Academy, Nicole was voted as the top field hockey player in the Western Maine Conference, thus earning the Linda B. Whitney Award. The honor was voted on by coaches in the WMC and acknowledges Nicole for her hard work, dedication, statistical achievements and overall contribution to the game of field hockey over her four years of varsity play.

“She is truly deserving of this honor and I am so excited to see her receive it (at an upcoming banquet),” said FA varsity field hockey coach Dede Frost. “Obviously, Nicole’s athletic ability does not go unnoticed on the field hockey field, but she brings much more than that to her team. She understands the meaning of competition and intensity while putting sportsmanship first. She leads by example and inspires all those around her to give 100% at all times. Her passion is really what sets her apart…it’s contagious!”

Nicole has been an offensive juggernaut, leading the Raiders to high finishes in Class B West regular season polls each of her varsity seasons, while scoring 19 goals and 19 assists this past fall. She was one of the league’s top threats from the penalty stroke line, converting several times with laser drives that sailed into the net’s top corners. Nicole combined size, speed and aggressive play in front of the net.

THEN at age 5 attending Coach Frost's summer field hockey camp.

THEN at age 5 attending Coach Frost's summer field hockey camp.

“One of Nicole’s greatest strengths is that she understands the game and loves everything about it. She is a thinker. Every opponent is a challenge, not an obstacle. She sets her own personal goals on top of team goals. This is why she continued to improved each and every day out on the field,” Coach Frost said. “She never settles for average, she strives to be better. She will practice, even alone, if that’s what it takes to master a skill she has set her mind on. Nicki plays field hockey any time and anywhere she can. You don’t get to be this good just by wishing to be. She has logged more hours on the field hockey field and in her back yard than most players get in a lifetime. She works at it, she challenges herself and she doesn’t stop until she has mastered the next level of play.”

Nicole reached 40 career goals by the end of her four years in high school, being one of the top scorers in the state and the top goal scorer at Fryeburg Academy, ever, Coach Frost said.

“It’s not all about skill though. It’s about heart. She loves the game, that’s the real reason she plays,” the coach said. “Nicki is a coach’s dream. She is dedicated and passionate. She is coachable and strives to be the best that she can possibly be.”

Nicole has been committed to field hockey at all levels. She is a counselor each summer at youth camp. She works with elementary players on Saturday mornings and is currently helping with a junior high program in Portland. She will play in college and anywhere else a stick and ball can be found.

NOW — As a senior captain, Nicole scored her 40th career high school goal this past fall.

NOW — As a senior captain, Nicole scored her 40th career high school goal this past fall.

“Her love of the game is what drives her and this is what united us at the very beginning,” Coach Frost said. “I began coaching Nicki when she was entering kindergarten so we have a long history. I have watched her grow from using a 26-inch stick to a young lady with 40 career goals. I have seen her grow into a leader and team captain. We have developed routines and rituals in our relationship. She would text me every game day and I would respond with the same exact messages each time. I have smelled tiger balm on bus rides and bandaged bloody knees and fingers. I have listened to balls slam the boards until it was so dark I would have to make her leave. I have watched her laugh hysterically and cry uncontrollably. I will miss and remember all that.”

When the Raiders lost a heartbreaker 2-0 decision to Leavitt in the first-round of the playoffs this fall, the coach and her captain were the last to leave the field. They both cried and hugged, knowing this chapter of the field hockey journey had ended.

“It has been a long wonderful journey and I have been blessed to be a part of it,” Coach Frost said in this message to Nicole. “So remember to never stop playing for the love of the game!”

The News posed the following questions to Nicole:

BN: How do you think you have improved over your four years in high school? And, what do you think were your strengths?

Nicole: When I was a freshman, I barely got varsity time. I was a swinger, but I didn’t get my letter until I was a sophomore. My biggest strength was having the determination and opportunity to play off-season as much as possible. I learned the importance of hard work and putting extra effort in during the off-season.

BN: Any particular goals you hoped to achieve?

SCORING THREAT — Nicole helped lead the Raiders to a double-digit win season and a high seed in the Class B West playoffs.

SCORING THREAT — Nicole helped lead the Raiders to a double-digit win season and a high seed in the Class B West playoffs.

Nicole: I set several goals before my senior year. I hoped to make All State and First Team All Conference (which she did accomplish). My biggest accomplishment was scoring my 40th career goal, and without realizing it, setting the new career record for FA.

BN: What have you enjoyed the most?

Nicole: I love everything about the game. The best feeling in the world is on game day, listening to music with your teammates and getting hyped. Intensity and competitiveness is the best part about being an athlete.

BN: What will you miss the most?

Nicole: I’ll miss my team. I grew up playing with the majority of those girls. And I’ve played under Coach Frost for 13 years now. We’re a family and I don’t know what I’m going to do without them next year.

BN: What will be your favorite memories?

Nicole: My favorite memories are the casual ones made by accident. Team sleepovers, bus rides, indoor leagues, ringing the bell after a win, all the little things that made my team so close.

BN: What does this honor (WMC player of the year) mean to you?

Nicole: I never could’ve imagined getting this award, but I could not be more honored. I played with and against some incredible individuals in the conference. I owe everything to my parents (Rachel and Bryce Thurston of Lovell) and Coach Frost. I also couldn’t have done it without Danielle Bishop, my club coach and trainer, who made a huge impact on my high school career.

BNN: Finally, what are your future plans?

Nicole: I’ve already verbally committed to play at Endicott College in the fall, where I will study exercise science. I aspire to become a collegiate coach some day.

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