In honor of Girls Sports Month, USA TODAY High School Sports has unveiled the ALL-USA Girls Hockey Teams for the 2018-19 season based on past performance, level of competition and strength of schedule.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Casey O’Brien, Shattuck St. Mary’s
Name: Shawn Rousseau
School: Kent School (Kent. Conn.)
Shawn Rousseau doesn’t have to worry about bring work home with him. His wife, Laurie, works right by his side.
The Rousseaus had to go through some ups and downs this year with their Kent School girls hockey teams, but the ups far surpassed the downs as the Lions won their first New England Prep School Athletic Council tournament championship.
“Coaching with Laurie has literally been the most rewarding experience of my professional life,” said Shawn Rousseau, the AFI ALL-USA Girls Hockey Coach of the Year. “It has been a unique gift, indeed, to have had the opportunity to work side-by-side with Laurie these last seven years.”
Kent (19-4) started out hot this year, winning its first six games but the Lions hit a midseason lull, losing four of seven games in January as three key players left for the Under-18 World Championships in Japan and two more went down with injuries.
But the team rebounded in a big way, winning its final 10 games and allowing just nine goals. Both the 6-1 win over (Windsor, Conn.) Loomis Chaffee in the NEPSAC Division 1 semifinals and the 4-1 victory over (Dedham, Mass.) Noble & Greenough. Seeded fifth in the tournament, Kent outscored its three postseason opponents 15-2.
“That was a great accomplishment,” Rousseau said. “We’re particularly proud of the two goals against—more than anything else, this statistic demonstrates the discipline and competitiveness of our players and their great trust in one another.”
Rousseau has been honing that discipline for a long time. His father started Rousseau’s Hockey Clinic in Central Maine in 1986 when Shawn was 9 years old. After injuries curtailed his playing career at Bowdoin College, Rousseau started his coaching career as a volunteer assistant with the Bowdoin women’s team before accepting the top job at Cape Elizabeth (Maine) High while still a junior in college.
In two seasons as the Capers’ coach—while going to college full-time 45 minutes away from the high school—Rousseau led Cape Elizabeth from last place to its first state championship.
After graduating from college, Rousseau continued to coach boys teams, culminating in another state title in 2011 at (Saco, Maine) Thornton Academy, that program’s first. It was at then that the Rousseaus decided it was time for something new.
“Laurie and I wanted to work together, and we have two daughters who share our deep passion for ice hockey,” Rousseau said. “The timing to transition to the girls’ game made good sense for me, and that opportunity became available at Kent.”
Similar to Cape Elizabeth, Rousseau took a last-place team and turned it into a winner. The Lions won their first Founders League title in 2015 and then brought home the big prize this winter.
ONE YEAR AGO: Who made the ALL-USA Team last season?