Two friends whose crusades continue
They’ve been best friends since they were “kinder-kids.”
They grew up playing on pitches and gyms at Burlington’s St. John (Knights) Elementary School.
Then the mighty Knights graduated to Assumption CSS where the two little gifted girls evolved into celebrated “Crusader kids.”
Adrienne Houle was captivated by the game with the field hockey “J stick” while Autumn Bailey was courted by volleyball.
Their talent in their respective sports drew the attention of university and college coaches across the continent.
Michelle Turley, head coach of the Guelph Gryphons, made a huge pitch to attract Houle. Her older sister, Erin, was an OUA First Team All-Star and all-Canadian. However, Providence College prevailed.
A soon to-be 2017 spring graduate of the private co-ed Rhode Island Roman Catholic College (stu- dent population 4,500) — Houle was recognized in the classroom and on the pitch — with a plethora of awards for excellence during her four-year Friar career.
The midfielder ’s accolades included: multiple BIG East Weekly Honour Roll recognition; All BIG East First Team and National Field Hockey Coaches Association D. 1 (NFHCA) honours; All-North East Region- Second Team AllStar (2015 & 2016); Victory Sports Tours/NFHCA D. 1 — All-Star Team selection (2016) and BIG East All-Academic.
“Adrienne certainly lived up to our expectations,” said Diane Madl coach of the Providence Friars. “(As captain and leader) she blossomed in getting the team to work in concert. Adrienne literally willed us to win with her never say die attitude in a number of games this season.”
“Coming off a tough 2015 season (winning only four games), we went 13-6 (in 2016) and made it to the semifinals of the BIG East tournament,” said Houle.
“It was pretty awesome to end my career on such a high note and to share it with my teammates who worked so hard.”
The Burlington native has qualified for a UK Ancestry Visa and hopes to pursue professional play in England, home of the reigning 2016 Olympic gold medallists.
And Marquette won the sweepstakes for Assumption’s Autumn Bailey.
The U-16 (2011) and U-20 (2013) national club (Defensa) volleyball champion and MVP made a huge impact the moment she hit the hardwood at Marquette (2013) earning BIG East Freshman of the Year Honours; American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All East Coast Region Honours; AVCA All-America — Honourable Mention and BIG East All-Academic Team.
The outstanding outside hitter repeated the athletic accolades in her sophomore season, adding 2014 BIG East All-Star and BIG East Player of the Year Honours to her already remarkable resume.
Then, suddenly, Bailey’s Marquette career got spiked!
The head coach who had so heavily recruited the talented player left Marquette for another coaching job.
Bailey decided to transfer to Michigan State University where the All-Star was a guarantee to be a starter.
However, in the fourth set of the first match of the 2015 season Bai- ley was felled with a torn right ACL, the first debilitating injury in her celebrated career.
She rehabbed. Hard. And, then fortunately, was granted an additional year of NCAA playing eligibility.
In 2016, Bailey was named AVCA All North Region; AVCA AllAmerica Honourable Mention; All Big Ten Honourable Mention; Spartan Classic MVP and Big Ten Player of the Week.
Not surprisingly, the 2017 Spartan senior sensation has set lofty goals for herself and her MSU mates.
“We are expecting big things from this team (in 2017),” said the education major. “We set the foundation last season and I think this will be a great year for us. We have a Big Ten and National Championship in sight.”
And they just might achieve that goal.
Don’t bet against the former Assumption Crusader.
She’s on a mission.
Providence College’s Adrienne Houle, front, hopes to play professionally in the United Kingdom.
Autumn Bailey will play a big role in Michigan State University’s drive to a Big Ten and national championships.
CECELIA CARTER SMITH