Morin-Boucher makes successful switch from soccer pitch
By Jim Hynes
Alexandra Morin-Boucher wasn’t supposed to compete in her newly adopted sport until 2012, but then went out and ran the 300-metre dash in December’s McGill Holiday Classic, a race she says she was running for fun and to gain experience heading into some big, upcoming track meets in 2012.
It ended up being a lot of fun indeed, and an entirely different experience than she or anyone else might have anticipated.
In what was essentially her first official race, Morin-Boucher captured a bronze medal and came within fractions of a second of breaking a McGill record by clocking a time of 40.43 seconds, an achievement that is even more remarkable when you consider she had only recently made the jump to the track from the soccer pitch. In four seasons with the soccer Martlets, one as team captain, the 22-year-old St. Gabriel de Brandon, Que. native was a star player, scoring 36 goals in 56 league games.
“I had been thinking about doing track for a long time, but I had no idea if I’d be any good at it,” said Morin-Boucher, a Physical Education senior. “But I’ve always liked to run and I knew I was fast compared to soccer players.”
No experience necessary
Before joining the track team, Morin-Boucher’s total experience in track and field came via a Phys Ed. course of the same name.
“We learned more about how to teach it than how to do it, but that’s when I started to really enjoy the sport,” she said.
With little beyond her own physical fitness and the competitive athlete’s drive and discipline to propel her on the track, Morin-Boucher has had to work extra hard on her technique. She’s managed the switch nicely so far, though, thanks in large part to a little help from some new friends.
“It is hard to run properly, to run with the right technique. I knew almost nothing about track and it was hard for me at the beginning.” Morin-Boucher said. “I still need to improve a lot compared to the other girls. Our coaches and my teammates help me a lot. The coaches give me a lot of feedback on my technique and some teammates guide me during the training sessions.”
Despite her lack of experience in the sport, McGill track coach Dennis Barrett thinks his new protégé has what it takes to be successful at it.
“I think with her speed Alex has the potential to be very competitive at the CIS level and possibly beyond if she is interested in pursuing the sport,” Barrett said. “I would classify her a natural. She has work to do in terms of understanding the mechanics of sprinting, however, it is difficult to work on all the technical aspects due to her injury. She has been watching videos of the top sprinters in the world to get an understanding of what they are doing technically.”
Nagging hip problem
When she first joined the team, Morin-Boucher had designs on becoming a sprinter, but was advised to start with middle distances due to a hip injury she carried over from soccer. But with more training under belt, Barrett feels she’s now ready for a new set of challenges – she’ll run both the 60m and 600m events at the Vert et Or Invitational in Sherbrooke this coming weekend.
“She seems to have the ability to run sprints and long sprints,” said Barrett, who would also like her to run the 4×200-m and 4×400-m relays.
Set to graduate this spring, Morin-Boucher isn’t certain of what lies ahead for her both in terms of athletics or future studies. But she does hope to work with a track club in Repentigny over the summer. She hasn’t entirely given up on soccer either, although an eventual return to the pitch will depend of the health of her injured hip, which will likely require surgery.
To track the progress of Morin-Boucher and her teammates through the rest of the season, visit www.mcgill.ca/athletics/varsitysports/.