Quaker Valley grad Bouchard receives ACC honor at Notre Dame
During his time at Quaker Valley, Clayton Bouchard embodied the term student-athlete.
Not much has changed for the Sewickley native since moving on the the University of Notre Dame,
Bouchard was recently named to the Atlantic Coast Conference Academic Honor Roll, which recognizes varsity athletes who finished with a grade point average of 3.0 or better. Bouchard earned a 3.5 GPA while competing on the varsity baseball team his freshman year.
“It’s a big honor for me,” Bouchard said. “Coming into the school, I knew academics would be really hard, and then when I made the team I knew I would have even less time for it. But I was able to push through and succeed in that way.”
Bouchard graduated from Quaker Valley in 2013 with a 4.7 cumulative GPA and served in the National Honor Society his junior and senior years.
After starring as the captain of the Quakers’ 2012 PIAA champion hockey team, it was a bit of a surprise when Bouchard gave up the sport to pursue baseball at Notre Dame.
“In high school, I thought I was going to play hockey,” Bouchard said. “Baseball was just this other sport that I loved. I had Division III offers for baseball, and when hockey didn’t work out I started sending my info out to a bunch of Division I programs.”
Bouchard walked onto the baseball team at Notre Dame last fall. He earned his spot after being named the MVP of the Blue-Gold series, an in-house double-header in which the varsity players are split between two teams.
When it came time to schedule classes for the spring semester, Bouchard hadn’t been told if he made the team. He took a risk and scheduled his semester based on the assumption that he would make the team.
The confidence paid off, and he made the team as a left fielder.
Most of his playing time last season was limited to pinch running opportunities, Bouchard said, but he has grown a lot as a player since then.
Being able to spend the whole year focusing on baseball had a lot to do with the improvements.
“Hockey, I played about a hundred games a year, and that took up a lot of time,” Bouchard said. “Now I’m hitting every day, taking fly balls every day, and that just helps you improve faster.”
Since he is not on scholarship, his spot on the team is not guaranteed year to year. The process of making the team starts over again this fall.
“I feel like I stack up defensively,” Bouchard said. “The depth of the team, there are a lot of numbers. They could take a lot of outfielders, less infielders, less pitchers — you just never know. It depends on the makeup of the team.”
The biggest need for improvement in Bouchard’s game at this point is power and consistency in his hitting, Bouchard said. At Quaker Valley, he was mostly a singles hitter who batted for average.
Bouchard has been bolstered by the strength training he’s received at Notre Dame, which is a fairly new experience for him. His senior season at Quaker Valley was the first time a strength program had been implemented for the baseball team.
“I think I’m confident enough that I’ve progressed a lot based on last year and coming into this year.,” Bouchard said. “I’m leaps and bounds above where I was hitting senior year. Picking up college offspeed pitching is the biggest thing I’m working on.”
Should Bouchard make the team again as a sophomore, it will leave him without time to lace up his skates every now and then, but it’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make.
“That’s a game that I’ll always love, and I’ll always have those memories I made with the state title junior year and making it back there senior year,” Bouchard said. “I wish I could play both at this point, but sometimes you’ve just got to be realistic, and baseball is my best option for the future.”
Bouchard entered the Mendoza Business School at Notre Dame this fall, but has yet to declare a major. He expressed interest in business management and finance.