When he was in fifth grade in Brewer, Christian LaCouture traded in his hockey stick for football pads and youth league football.
His father, David, had been a productive checking line center on the University of Maine’s 1993 NCAA championship team.
The elder LaCouture was an overachiever. He was an assistant captain and a physical presence with a great work ethic.
His son inherited that work ethic and he has verbally committed to attend Texas A&M on a football scholarship in two years.
Christian LaCouture, who cut his football teeth in Brewer, was a starting defensive end as a sophomore at Odessa Permian High School, the Texas school that was the focal point of the movie “Friday Night Lights.”
The movie spawned a TV series by the same name.
Christian LaCouture is 6-foot-6, 253-pound sophomore who runs the 40 in 4.8 seconds.
“I went to Texas A&M’s summer camp last summer and I felt like I connected to the program,” said LaCouture. “It’s a great feeling. It has been a long road for us.”
That long road began in fifth grade.
Then, after his seventh grade year, the family moved to Cape Cod. LaCouture is from Massachusetts and his wife, Amy (Henderson), is from Orrington. When their son let it be known he wanted to play Division I football, David and Amy sat him down and asked him if he was willing to work hard to make it happen. He said he was.
So they moved to Odessa, Texas, where David landed a job as a senior vice-president with the Odessa Jackalopes of the Central Hockey League. He also became a minority owner.
Christian LaCouture had watched the Friday Night Light movie and it inspired him.
“I wanted to compete down there. If you can compete in Texas, you can compete anywhere in the country,” said Christian LaCouture. “Football is religion down here. You get 25,000 to your home games. People are very supportive of the football program.”
Ninth-graders are still in middle school in Texas but, in the spring, the middle school players work out with the high school players so the coaches can assess them.
“I had to come in with the right mentality. If you want to compete with them, you have to be mentally and physically ready for it and I was,” said Christian.
He was one of four sophomore starters on defense last fall.
“I thought things went very well. I had six or seven sacks,” said LaCouture. “We play a 3-4 scheme and my main focus is to take on double-teams so our linebackers can make plays behind the line of scrimmage.”
Playing in front of 25,000 was a new experience for him.
“You feed off that. It gives you a big adrenalin rush. The only bad part was it was tough to hear the play calls,” said LaCouture.
David LaCouture is proud of his son.
“I couldn’t be any happier for him. I’m ecstatic,” said LaCouture. “We didn’t hand him anything. He has had to work for everything. And he has worked extremely hard.”
Football is a year-round sport in Texas. When you aren’t playing football, you’re working out to get ready for football season.
Then there is the adjustment to living in Texas.
“I love it here,” said Christian. “It’s very simple. Quiet. We live in a great neighborhood. I’ve got a lot of friends. It’s a great situation.”
But Maine will always hold a special place in his heart, he said.