The Bouchard household has no shortage of gold balls.
Karen (Spurling) Bouchard was a post player on Houlton High teams that won two Class B state girls basketball championships in 1986 and ’88.
Her husband, Marty Bouchard, coached the 1996 Hodgdon High School boys basketball team to the Class C state crown. He also had been an outstanding player at Houlton High but never won a gold ball as a player.
Their son, Kyle, led Houlton to the Class C state crown in 2014, and sister Kolleen helped the Shires to the title last season. She hopes her team will win another at 7 p.m. Friday, this time in Class B, when Houlton takes on Gray-New Gloucester at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
The three generations of gold-ball success with the Bouchard family started with Karen’s father, Terry Spurling, who won a Class A state title in basketball with Ellsworth High School in 1954, when he was a teammate of Maine Sports Hall of Famer Jack Scott.
Spurling went on to have an impressive basketball coaching career at Aroostook Central Institute in Mars Hill and Houlton High School.
“Yeah, we love basketball. We’re certainly a basketball family,” Marty Bouchard said. “And we’re all very competitive.”
Basketball conversations at the dinner table can get spirited because of the competitive atmosphere.
‘For the love of the game’
The family’s love of basketball is evident as they have a basketball court at their house and at their camp.
“[Kyle and Kolleen] enjoy going out and shooting around together,” Marty said.
When Kyle Bouchard would play a pickup basketball game as a youngster, he would bring his sister, who is three years younger.
And when they would start choosing up sides, Kolleen noted “Kyle would always pick me first.”
“She was always competitive, even at a young age,” Kyle explained. “And I always enjoyed the fact she shared the same love of basketball that I did. So I wanted her to play on my team.”
“He picked her because he knew she’d pass the ball to him,” their grandfather, Terry Spurling, joked.
“I’m not surprised my grandfather had a quick one-liner,” Kyle quipped. “But I picked her because she was probably the best player.”
There also would be various competitions between brother and sister, such as foul shooting, with dad and mom also getting involved.
Throughout their children’s young careers in basketball, Marty and Karen’s advice to their two children has been simple.
“Play hard, and play for the love of the game,” said Marty, who coached both his kids at various stages of their careers.
Kyle Bouchard said he would have a “very hard time listing all the things we learned” from his parents.
“My father is extremely knowledgeable, as is the rest of my family,” he continued. “It’s hard to have a family discussion without learning something. We were real lucky to have our father coach us. He would drive coast to coast just to coach us. It was an experience, and he treated us both very well.”
Kyle is a freshman on the Bentley University team that captured the Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division regular-season title.
“Marty deserves a lot of credit. He does a wonderful job coaching kids,” Terry Spurling said.
During his high school career, Kyle Bouchard was a three-time Bangor Daily News All-Maine basketball selection and a Mr. Maine Basketball recipient. He had 1,815 career points, 725 rebounds and 326 assists in 85 games. He also was a two-time Eastern Maine Class C Tournament Most Valuable Player.
Kolleen Bouchard became just the third freshman since 1991 to be chosen to one of the BDN’s All-Maine teams last year when she was a second-team choice after she averaged 19.2 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.5 blocks per game.
Marty Bouchard said the goal for his kids has always been to win team championships.
“That’s the ultimate prize to accomplish with your team,” he said. “That’s the driving force.”
Kolleen and Kyle are different types of players, as were their parents.
Karen Spurling was a power forward who did most of her work in the paint while Marty, by his own admission, was more of a perimeter player.
“Karen was very good. It came easy to her,” Terry Spurling said.
In comparing his daughter to his granddaughter, Spurling said, “Kolleen has better skills. She can go to the basket with both hands.”
As for Kyle and Kolleen, Marty said “Kyle was always a physical specimen in the game: 6-foot-5, 225 pounds. Kolleen [5-10] is more of a quick, finesse player who can hurt you a lot of different ways.”
As for their on-court personalities, Karen said her children are “very different. Kyle is very focused. His facial expressions never change. Kolleen will sometimes have a little grin on her face.”
Kyle said his sister is a fierce competitor.
“She used to get fired up. She’d also laugh. My parents always said I was even-keeled,” he said.
Kyle and Kolleen are each other’s biggest fans and keep in contact.
“He always texts me before games. He wants to know what the game plan is and what I need to do,” said Kolleen, who noted Kyle has played an important role in her development.
“He taught me individual moves and how to be tough. He’s also taught me to be smart while I’m playing,” Kolleen said.
“Kolleen has always aspired to be as good as her brother. She wants to live up to his accomplishments. She sees that as a challenge,” Karen said.
“I like to think I’ve had something to do with her success, and I know she has had something to do with my success,” Kyle said. “I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
Terry Spurling said he has been thrilled to watch his grandchildren play.
“It has been so much fun. I’m very proud of them,” said Spurling, who attends all of their games along with wife Jane. “They’re different, although one thing they have in common is that neither one of them seems to get nervous before games.”
Marty Bouchard said both his children have benefited from growing up in a supportive community with quality teammates and coaches. Kyle and Kolleen also have had tremendous support from their family, who rarely miss a game.
Two of their uncles, brothers Scott Spurling and Mark Spurling, live together in a house 1 mile from the Bentley University campus so they attend Kyle’s games. Scott makes an annual pilgrimage to Bangor for the tournament, and both have attended Kolleen and Kyle’s games.
“It’s amazing. Our family has been unbelievable,” Kyle said.