BOURDEAU A CALMING PRESENCE FOR UTICA CITY
No matter the size of the crowd nor the magnitude of the match, Nate Bourdeau maintains the calm, cool, collected demeanor. From pairings with superstars to championship victories, his career has been defined by an innate ability to perform well under pressure, a mission that he seeks to continue at the Adirondack Bank Center.
Bourdeau’s journey to the blue turf began in nearby Baldwinsville, New York where he was born and raised. As a member of the Baldwinsville varsity soccer team, he was awarded CNY Player of the Year and became the school’s all-time leader in goals and assists.
“It was an honor to win Player of the Year. It’s obviously your goal at whatever level you’re playing to have team accomplishments and individual accomplishments.”
His standout play at Baldwinsville lead him to be selected for the Division I regional Olympic Development Program, a team identification and development program for high level players. There, he played with numerous future MLS stars and high-level soccer talents.
“Growing up, I played with many guys currently playing in Major League Soccer that I still keep in touch with like Darlington Nagbe, who won a few MLS titles. Andrew Wenger was one of my former teammates and he was a former MLS number-one draft pick by the Montreal Impact coming out of Duke where he was an ACC offensive and defensive player of the year.”
From a stellar high school career, Bourdeau took his talents to the collegiate ranks where he would play a year at Boston College before spending three year playing for Rutgers, a then Big East rival of Syracuse.
Bourdeau described his time at the New Brunswick, New Jersey university with fondness, stating, “For me, Rutgers is my second-home. Most of my fondest college memories come from Rutgers. To me, it’s the best university in the country and I love it there.
“My decision to transfer to Rutgers was possibly the biggest and best decision I made for my playing career and my personal life. I owe everything to coach Bob Reasso for bringing me in and my best friends to this day are former teammates of mine and students at Rutgers.”
From his second home of Rutgers, Bourdeau returned to where it all began to continue his soccer career, joining the Syracuse Silver Knights in their earliest years.
“Coach Tommy Tanner and Jon Ramin, who at that time was the general manager, had reached out to me to see if I had any interest in coming home and playing. Once I did a year of that, I fell in love with the indoor game itself and I’ve been fortunate enough to have played for a long time with the Silver Knights and to have helped grow the game in Syracuse.”
While a newfound passion for the indoor game developed, Bourdeau’s love of the beautiful game in its original form never died, leading him to become part of the 2015 USL champion Rochester Rhinos with current teammate Onua Obasi.
“Rochester was a special team and it was one of the best I’ve ever played on. I learned a lot with the way our coach, Bob Lilley, demanded things out of players every single day. The way we had to show up to work every single day and not get complacent was the main reason that our team won a championship. That title is one of my biggest accomplishments in my career. You couldn’t ask for more than to be able to play the game professionally at the highest level and win a championship.”
The lessons that Nate learned during Rochester’s championship run are some that he hopes to pass on to the next generation as part of Bourdeau’s Skill School, a program that has grown near and dear to the midfielder’s heart.
“I originally had started Bourdeau’s Skill School as another way of staying busy and giving back to the game eight or nine years ago and I found that I really enjoy working with players on an individual and group basis. You get to know the player and create a deeper relationship than you would in a team setting because it’s just you and them or a few other individuals.”
Bourdeau’s role in molding the young talent of tomorrow is one that he wishes to continue after his playing days are over, epitomizing the process of a student of the game becoming a teacher.
“I found that coaching like that was my second passion and my direction for life after my playing career, whenever that may come. I’ve just been fortunate enough to do that for eight or nine years. It’s definitely one of my passions and something that I’m really dedicated to.
In addition to leading the young players of tomorrow, Bourdeau’s role of co-captain with Bo Jelovac seems tailor-made for him. He described being selected for the position as an immense honor stating, “When Coach Hall had first told me that he was making me a co-captain with Bo (Jelovac), I was so honored. The fact that he trusted me and wanted me to be a captain with so many other strong personalities and players with great experience made it such a big honor, one I still appreciate to this day.
“I haven’t taken it for granted and I try to be a player that leads by example and tries to do all the little things. Whatever the team needs me to do, I’ll do and hopefully that mentality will be infectious in the locker room.”
With so many professional and personal accomplishments under his belt, there is one mission left for Bourdeau to accomplish. The experienced midfielder has one obsessive focus: winning a MASL title.
“The Ron Newman Cup is the only thing on my mind.”