Some kids like to spend their Saturday mornings watching cartoons on the couch. Clinton Bourbonais spent his inside a laboratory.
Bourbonais, a biomedical engineering major at Yale University, would spend his childhood weekends fiddling with pipettes and petri dishes while his father Frank, a biochemist, was hard at work.
“Clinton would come into the lab and help me do experiments,” Frank recalls. “Right from the very beginning he always really liked coming there.”
It was the beginning of a lifelong love and appreciation for science that Clinton has brought with him to the Ivy League campus in the heart of New Haven, Conn.
Not that the Dexter, Mich., native is just a bookworm. Sure, he did graduate summa cum laude from Orchard Lakes-St. Mary’s Prep, but he was also a three-sport athlete in football, baseball and hockey.
“Clinton would come home from school and do his homework straight away. Always,” Frank says. “He was a very diligent and serious student.”
And if that’s not impressive enough, Boubonais also helped the St. Louis Bandits (NAHL) win the national junior championship in 2008-09 by scoring the game-winning goal in double overtime.
It’s that balancing act between athletics and academics that helped punch his ticket to one of the most prestigious schools in the country.
And it’s that drive to succeed that remains to this day, whether he’s mucking it up at Ingalls Rink as a gritty playmaker for the Bulldogs, or spending endless hours pouring himself into a series of lab exercises.
“It’s hard. Time management is huge,” Bourbonais admits. “The coaches understand that if I need a couple of hours to sleep instead of going to practice or an extra workout they let me do that, which is always nice.”
In 15 games this year Bourbonais has one goal and nine assists with a Bulldogs squad that has been consistently ranked in the USA Hockey Magazine/USA Today Men’s College Hockey Poll this season.
However, Yale coach Keith Allain is more impressed with Bourbonais’ ability to major in one of the most difficult subjects at a challenging Ivy League institution.
“It’s very time demanding,” says Allain, a 1980 Yale graduate. “Those engineering students do a lot of trial and error stuff, and their labs can last four or five hours. Then he has to come to practice and we expect him to have energy.
“It’s very difficult, and you admire the guys that can pull it off.”
The junior is currently taking a variety of 300-level courses covering topics such as biomechanics, biokinetics and many others. Bourbonais aspires to one-day work with bionic arms and help produce prosthetic appendages that will work with nervous systems and allow natural movement.
“It would be a dream come true,” he says. “Ever since high school I have been doing research on it. To actually see it work or put it in action would be phenomenal. It would be unbelievable.”
Inside the classroom Bourbonais is very different from the in-your-face player he is on the ice.
“A completely different person. When I am in the classroom I am soft spoken, quiet and try to take everything all in,” Bourbonais says. “Then when I’m on the ice I’m trying to get in people’s face.”
There are times, he says, that his academic studies have helped him with his on-ice activities.
“I had cramps the first game of the season, and I understood it was because of my magnesium, calcium and potassium levels,” he recalls. “I went to Walgreens and bought 50 vitamins and haven’t cramped up since.”
Despite the challenges he faces on and off the ice, being accepted into Yale will always remain on Bourbonais’ top line of achievements.
“Going to an institution like Yale, it’s world renowned,” Bourbonais says. “I am so happy I got in; it was the best day of my life.”
Photos courtesy of Yale University
Bethel Park, Pa
On and off the ice, Connor Fedorek is an all-star. A member of the Cleveland Junior Lumberjacks organization, Connor juggles the rigors of travel hockey while still maintaining his straight A average. A defenseman with the Lumberjacks, Connor plays a regular shift in addition to seeing time on the power play and penalty kill. He has played in numerous tournaments and attended several high-level camps. Off the ice, Connor serves as the 8th grade class president for Neil Armstrong Middle School in Bethel Park, Pa. In his limited free time, Connor works tirelessly to support local charities such as the South Hills Ministry, various food drives and the Wounded Warriors Project. Connor’s goal is to one day use his grades and hockey skills to earn a Div. I scholarship, perhaps to play for his favorite college team, Boston University.