Shooting from the Hip with Chad Gaudet
Danny Glading, Garrett Billings, Matt Kelly and the rest of the Cavalier seniors will be playing in their third final four this weekend when Virginia faces off against Cornell in the second national semifinal game Saturday in Foxborough, Mass. For fifth-year player Chad Gaudet the experience is a totally foreign one. He graduated from Dartmouth last year where he played football and lacrosse. He decided to use his final year of eligibility at UVa, where he has been a key contributor all season manning the faceoff X. A native of nearby Burlington, Gaudet gets the experience of closing his career in a stadium he has been to many times as a spectator. Gaudet talks about the thrill of coming back home to play for a national championship, as well as the Cavaliers’ matchup against Cornell, a team he has faced throughout his career.
Question: As a Boston native, how exciting is it to get to the final four and playing in Gillette Stadium, a place you have been to many times?
Gaudet: It’s incredible. It’s a dream come true. It’s also one of the main reasons that I decided to take a fifth year so I could finish my career off back home and hopefully we finish it on Monday instead of Saturday.
Question: Is it any more special that this final four is in Boston or is it just as special to be at the final four wherever it is?
Gaudet: Definitely it is the final four in general, but to have it be in Boston it’s just really special. My whole family is going to be able to come. I used to go to Patriots games in Foxborough. My buddy and I actually worked there for one fall so we could get into the games. It’s going to be real special.
Question: Having worked there, are you are kind of familiar with some of the behind the scene areas at the stadium?
Gaudet: The Patriots are a pretty closed organization, so I never got to see the inner workings. But they gave me two free tickets for helping do stuff before the game, so I took them.
Question: Talk about how remarkable this season has been for you. Hasn’t it been an interesting ride?
Gaudet: Yeah, it’s been incredible. I have never really been on the number one team in the country in any sport, so it took a little bit of getting used to but it’s great. It’s exactly where I think you dream to be when you start playing sports. I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity.
Question: Coming into this season you were kind of an unknown quantity after transferring from Dartmouth. Given your expectations that you had coming into the season and how the season has played out, have you met those expectations, exceeded them or what?
Gaudet: From a personal perspective, I’d have to say I exceeded them. I just really wanted, obviously, to just make the team; I wasn’t even sure I would be able to do that. It’s been a great honor being on the team as far as playing has gone. I think it has been pretty well this year but hopefully we’ll save the best two games for last.
Question: You have taken more faceoffs this season and anybody in school history and your 173 wins rank fourth. Did you think you’d have this big of a role on a team as you had this year?
Gaudet: Wow, I wasn’t even aware of that but it’s great. It’s certainly something that I dreamed about when I thought about applying, but I knew it would take a lot of work to actually make it happen. Hopefully it’s paid off. I am very fortunate to be there.
Question: Even though this is your first final four experience, you’re an older player and you’ve had a wide range of collegiate and athletic experiences. Will you be looking at those experiences to get you through this last weekend?
Gaudet: Sure. I think this season in particular we’ve played in a lot of big environments, I wouldn’t say big games because we don’t really believe in that, but the Carrier Dome really was the first time I kind of got smacked in the face with the big crowd, big atmosphere. So yeah I think I am going to definitely draw on some of that stuff to prepare myself for this weekend.
Question: You transferred from Dartmouth to UVa to use your final year of eligibility this year. How did that come about?
Gaudet: (Last year) we (Dartmouth) were playing UVa on their senior day—it was about the same time that we played Dartmouth this year—I was listening to pregame announcements and I heard Mike Timms and Ben Rubeor being announced and I heard their plans to attend the McIntire School in a fifth-year program. After hearing that I knew I interested in business as well. So I went back home and I researched the program, found it was something that I was interested in and emailed coach Starsia. He said if I could get in, then he’d give me a shot on the team and that is basically where it went. I didn’t look anywhere else.
Question: Has it been what you expected athletically and academically for what you were looking for in a program?
Gaudet: A hundred percent, everything exceeded my expectations down here.
Question: With your Ivy League background having played at Dartmouth and in the game against Cornell earlier this season, you know quite a bit about Cornell. How much of a benefit is that to you heading into this game on Saturday?
Gaudet: It’s a little bit of a benefit. I mean they’re a great team. I guess I have studied them now for it will be my third year playing them. They’re a tough team, they run well, great athletes so if anything I kind of really stress to the guys in the first game not to take them lightly. And I know for sure that they’re not going to be taking them lightly this weekend.
Question: What do you remember from the first meeting with Cornell this year?
Gaudet: I just remember a lot of offensive firepower, guys that play really hard in between lines. Particularly on faceoffs, every one was a battle. You really just have to fight until you get the ball up, get possession, and get into your box. It’s going to be a tough match.
Question: What do you see as some of the things the team might have to do to be successful on Saturday against Cornell?
Gaudet: You know I think we’re going to have to work really hard. We’re going to have to win ground ball battle, which is something we try to do every game. We’re going to have to be real cognizant of our matchups on defense. They have a lot of skill, they move a lot off the ball, so everyone is going to have to be really focused at all times. You can’t take any plays off. And hopefully we can slow them on defense end and hopefully our offense can get some goals.
Question: One final question, your brother won a national championship in ice hockey at Boston University this year so there’s little bit of kind of a rivalry there. How much would it mean for you to perhaps win a national championship this season?
Gaudet: It would be huge. It’s obviously bragging rights in the house, it’s almost going to be necessary. I am pretty excited I get to see him this weekend. He is bringing a bunch of guys from the team to the game, so I have been trying to find tickets for them. And yeah, that’s obviously the goal to take one home.