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Gagne has the touch

POSTED December 02, 2012
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

                                                      Gagne has the touch

            THOMASTON – It’s all about touch with Drew Gagne. The physical part on the field making magic with the soccer ball.  That’s always been enough to draw attention from teammates, opponents and fans alike. But it has never started and stopped with the game. There’s the way he has always gone about his business. That’s different kind of touch – touch of class.

            Gagne completed his high school career last Sunday by playing in the Connecticut Soccer Coaches Association Senior Bowl at Middletown. Gagne’s appearance in the game speaks volumes. It is not a normal stop on most players’ travel itinerary. Particularly from Thomaston where only in the last four years have the Bears found their way back to respectability after a long, long, long dry spell.

            But, you play like Gagne and you get the special invite. All-State and a two-time All-BL selection, including being ranked the league’s No. 1 player this season, Gagne has had a career to be envied.

            Gagne scored 50 goals and registered 31 assists, with 19 goals and 11 assists coming as a sophomore and 18 goals and five assists lighting up the board this season. A touch of perspective is needed here. Not that long ago Thomaston went five years with scoring a total of 50 goals.

            While there are many ingredients in Thomaston’s return to soccer prominence which includes four straight state tournament appearances, Gagne’s efforts have been paramount. In a town not known over the years for producing soccer talent, Gagne is a revelation.   

            Bears coach Martin Giroux has seen a lot of soccer talent in a career that totals 23 years as a coach, 13 as the head varsity man at Nonnewaug and Thomaston. He has seen special and Gagne fits the bill.

            “He’s one of the top three I’ve seen,” said Giroux. “He works harder than anybody else, he hates to lose more than anybody else and he has an absolutely never-say-die attitude in a very positive way.”

            Then there’s that element of touch.

            “His touch is about as good as I’ve seen,” lauded Giroux. “His ability to receive the ball, to have the ball in close proximity, his passing and dribbling skills. He’s got the whole range of soccer. “

            Deep praise. And Gagne handles it, well, with a deft touch. As for the physical aspect of the game he’ll tell you he can juggle a ball with his feet for an indefinite amount of time, “until somebody tells me to stop.” But, he doesn’t get lost in the numbers of awards.

            “This is all unreal, just to have the opportunity to play all four years,” said Gagne. “Coming into my sophomore year if you had told me I would score five goals I don’t know what I would have said.”

            However, since his early days playing for premier teams like AJAX out of Bristol and South Central Premier out of New Have, Gagne has understood the game goes beyond the ability to kick and run.

            “It’s not all about physical soccer skills,” said Gagne. “It’s about desire and drive. You don’t have to be faster or stronger. You have to want it more. I always wanted the ball, I always wanted to score and I have been able to find the back of the net a lot.”

            Soccer is a sport that has lured Gagne in with its demand to see ahead to be successful.

            “I love how you don’t get a break,” he said. “It’s not just living in the play. A good soccer player thinks one, two, three plays a head. You’re anticipating your move and the opponent’s move.”

            “Drew’s understand of the game, regardless of the position or where he is on the field allows him to do what is required of him,” added Giroux.

            Gagne sticks in the mind, however, beyond the soccer skill. There’s that other touch. He’s not the testosterone fueled athlete with the chip on his shoulder that drives him.  He carries all the motivation he needs inside and gets it done with almost a tender touch.

            If he runs you over, he’ll help you up. He’s not big into the trash talk. If there’s a dispute, he’ll shake your hand. He says please and thank-you. When told about making the BL All-Star team along with his brother, junior Alex, his comment to Giroux was, “I’m just glad Alex made it.”

            Ask him about the Bears’ success and his career and you get this.

            “High school soccer has been the best thing in my life. The winning has been awesome and even when we lost we always did it as a team. For Thomaston athletes the team is always there.”

            He is a nice guy. Even around the THS halls, you would be hard-pressed to find a person who doesn’t like Gagne. Ranked 12th in his class, he carries an air of impressiveness with him always.

            “He brings a positive spirit with him” said Giroux. “All I can say is class.”

            Gagne is playing basketball these days where he will be a major figure for the Bears, but soccer is his game. Next fall the south is looking good with Florida Atlantic University and Lynn University high, both in Boca Raton, Florida on list.

            He has been accepted to both schools based on academics but you have to believe those juggling feet will bring him to a soccer field.

            Wherever Gagne attends school he’ll bring a rare touch to the soccer field. Maybe more importantly he’ll bring a touch of class.

            A career of elegance and grace forces and big numbers forces you to acknowledge the talent of his game. But the way he has gone about it all demands you appreciate the quality of his character.

            One class act with a great touch.  

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