Brian and Amy Bernatchez wanted to create an organization that would enable girls of all ages to develop their field hockey skills. So they formed the Maine Majestix field hockey program in Waterville 10 years ago.
The Majestix program has since helped place more than 100 girls on college field hockey rosters, with 30-plus landing at Division I institutions.
Now, the husband and wife team has decided to retire and hand over the reins to Colby College field hockey coach Kelly Terwilliger beginning in March.
Former Ohio State University defender Terwilliger completed her first season at Colby in Waterville last fall after serving as the associate head coach at Indiana University and an assistant coach at Ohio University and Ohio State University.
“It was a difficult decision. It was an emotional couple of weeks. It’s like giving your teenager up for adoption,” said Brian Bernatchez. “It has been a huge part of our lives for 10 years.”
“We’ve loved the kids and loved the families but it was the right time (to step away). We have someone amazing taking over,” said the former Amy Corbett who, like her husband, has coached several Majestix teams.
“Kelly was a great player and is a great person and an outstanding coach,” said Brian Bernatchez. “We invited her to come and run a practice session for us last summer and after watching her, Amy and I looked at each other and realized we had found (the right person to take over).”
“We’re sad about leaving but we’re empty-nesters now and we want to spend our time differently,” said Amy. “We’d like to travel, play golf and tennis and spend more time at the lake instead of spending most of our time on a field hockey field.”
Their youngest child, Jack, is a freshman at MIT and is a running back on the football team. Daughter Katie played field hockey at Boston University and their other daughter, Kristy, just concluded her field hockey career at the University of North Carolina and will graduate in May.
Terwilliger said taking over the Majestix program is an “incredible honor” and praised Brian and Amy Bernatchez for the outstanding job they did.
“I’m very excited. I want to help girls realize their goals in life,” she said.
Brian Bernatchez said it was always their mission to give players from Maine “the training and exposure they needed to find a home on a college team. We looked every player and every parent in the eye and told them if they trusted in our process and stayed committed to our training program, they would find a place to play in college.”
The program has grown from three teams to seven teams as they have three Under-14 teams, two Under-16 clubs and two Under-19s. They have sent several teams to national championship tournaments.
Brian said they have been blessed to have “a lot of very committed parents” and an exceptional coach in Katie (Flaherty) McCabe who has been with them since the inception.
“Katie has been a rock-solid person from the beginning,” said Brian.
Skowhegan High School coach and Maine Sports Hall of Famer Paula Doughty said the Bernatchezes have done a “great job for Maine field hockey.”
She said they established the first top-quality, long-term field hockey program in the state and it has spawned other programs.
“They train year-round and Brian and Amy have made a lot of college connections for the athletes in the area. They were also instrumental in getting that (artificial) turf field built at Thomas College,” said Doughty who also noted that they teach the Maine core values of hard work and “getting out of if what you put into it.”