SOUTHINGTON - When Southington High School senior Owen Bouchard received a text from football head coach Mike Drury last week telling him and the rest of the football captains to wear their jerseys to school the next day, Bouchard figured it was just a local newspaper doing a story on the Blue Knights.
Turns out, there was a story to be captured, but not of the team as a whole. That moment was all for Bouchard, who began to figure it out when he arrived to school sporting his football jersey, only to find his fellow captains in normal street clothes.
“I was a little confused,” Bouchard said. “I ended up getting called down to the office and there were multiple people there waiting for me: my parents, my coaches, the principal. They were all there and gave me the award right there.”
The award was a selection to the National Football Foundation’s National High School Scholar-Athlete Class. Bouchard was part of 13 student-athletes selected from the foundation’s Northern Chapter. The offensive lineman, who is ranked 17th in his class out of 482 students and logged more than 100 hours of community service in 2018, is now part of the NFF’s second class of nationally recognized high school athletes the organization describes as “top high school scholar-athletes from around the country and the NFF Chapter Network as the best and the brightest at the local level.”
“It means a lot to be noticed for something beyond football,” Bouchard said. “I try to do the best I can to get myself out there and get involved with as much as I can, like community service. I try to be the best version of myself and focusing on that and my grades will open plenty of doors for me in the future. I put a lot of energy towards that, and it’s great to be appreciated for something like that.”
Doors have already opened for Bouchard, who aspires to become an orthopedic surgeon after college. First, the offensive lineman will replace his shoulder pads with scrubs as he begins studying exercise science at UConn next fall.
Thanks to his time with the Blue Knights, Bouchard already has an extra step forward in terms of his career path. One of his coaches at Southington referred Bouchard to his orthopedic surgeon, who allowed Bouchard to sit in on multiple surgeries to get a sense of what his dream job entails.
Bouchard, who already had begun to show interest in the profession once he began lifting in high school, was sold on the job almost immediately.
“I’ve always had an interest in the human body,” Bouchard said. “I was able to watch a couple surgeries and that kind of confirmed my interest. It was a great eye-opener and steered me in this path moving forward.”
For a high school senior who spends his time lifting, playing football, shadowing surgeries and volunteering at his church in the summer, there’s little free time for Bouchard to do what others would consider to be activities for a typical high schooler. Bouchard has no regrets, knowing his cramped schedule will only make things wide open for him in the future, with even some national awards to keep him going along the way.
“With the amount of things I have on my plate, I’ve developed some really good time management skills,” Bouchard said. “It’s opened up even more doors because I’ve been able to allocate my time well and do things as productively as possible. I just take everything one at a time.”
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org