As the UNH field hockey team heads up to Orono, Maine on Friday, Oct. 28, one player will be preparing up until the start of the game.
Senior Lindsey Nerbonne knows the ins and outs of field hockey, but it is her work ethic leading up to the game and positivity throughout that makes her stand out. Nerbonne is a role model when it comes to being not only a UNH athlete, but a model citizen.
“The difference between [Nerbonne] and others is her emotion. She has passion and although sometimes it might be to a fault, [it is] because she is her own toughest critic,” UNH field hockey head coach Robin Balducci said. “Her passion and enthusiasm is so impactful to the team. That is an intangible.”
Nerbonne, who is from Bow, New Hampshire, played many sports back in high school. She was a key contributor in all of the teams she played for. She even was a part of a championship team with basketball. Nerbonne scored 1,000 points in her basketball career at Bow. The accolades range from player of the year in two different newspapers to the Falcon Award; a high school leadership award. Her desire to be the best is what makes “Nerbs,” as nicknamed by teammates, a standout athlete.
“She is 100 percent engaged during practice, training, and/or gameday. Even if it is training, she takes responsibility of the role she has,” Balducci said. “She wants to be the best player and wants to be good. She accepts that responsibility. Not a lot of kids do that.”
UNH was not the first choice for Nerbonne. She committed to playing field hockey at Syracuse University during her freshman year and even had an assist against Balducci’s UNH team. Then, as a college sophomore in 2014, Nerbonne decided to transfer back home and made an impact quick for the Wildcats. In 2014, she recorded 13 goals and four assists for a total of 30 points.
“[Nerbonne] makes everyone around her better. She has it all. The [physicality], the athleticism, and mentality. You get so few of those. Those are the best of the best that come to the program. People can excel, but when they have the full package that is the exceptional athlete.” Balducci said.
As a junior, Nerbonne continued her dominance starting in all 19 games and recorded 26 points. She was also recognized as America East Player of the Year. She excelled in the classroom too, making the academic honor roll while pursuing her B.A. in outdoor education.
Therefore, senior year has been a roller coaster for Nerbonne. A string of losses and the recent success of yet another playoff berth has kept Nerbonne hungry, but as the Winter season moves in, Nerbonne knows her time is almost over.
“Playing for UNH has meant the world to me. I actually get choked up thinking about the end. It’s made me realize how close you can get with a group of people and how much you can be pushed to get through tough times and experience the best of times,” Nerbonne said.
While playing in all 16 games, Captain Nerbonne has helped lead the Wildcats to a 6-10 overall record and another playoff berth. She has scored nine goals and has totaled 19 points, but none of that matters to her. She is a perfectionist and always looks to improve.
“I’m so grateful to everyone I have played with and the coaches for creating an atmosphere that I couldn’t imagine not being apart of. I hope I left my mark on this program in some way on how to be a good teammate,” Nerbonne said. “I worked really really hard at this. I wanted to try to push others to work hard through my work ethic and also be as genuine as possible,”
As the championship becomes the ultimate goal for Nerbonne, she does not know about plans after college.
“To a fault I think I have poured myself so much into the sport that what comes after is something I still need to figure out,” Nerbonne said. “I would love to potentially do some more with rock climbing and my outdoor education major out West [in Colorado] or something.”
Regardless of what Nerbonne does after school, she has made her Wildcat imprint on the culture of athletics here and how to achieve success the right way, as well as spark excitement for the sport of field hockey in others.