Sometimes the first college isn’t the right fit. Nathalie Michaud originally chose her college because of its ski team. Now she’s at the University of Maine-Fort Kent, a school that doesn’t have a ski team at all.

Michaud, a Madison native, was a standout three-sport athlete in high school. As a junior softball player, she had seven hits in two playoff games. As a senior, she was the Morning Sentinel Girls Soccer Player of the Year. As a skier, she was good enough to go to Division I Colby-Sawyer.

“I went there as a bio major, and skiing was what kind of brought me there,” Michaud said. “They have the closest D-I skiing team.”

Michaud eventually decided to switch to a nursing major, but said she was just under the cutoff for grades to earn a spot in the program. She had been thinking about transferring anyway, and ended up in Fort Kent, where she could play soccer again, but had to give up competitive skiing.

“It’s gonna definitely be weird, because I’ve been skiing since I was 2 and I’ve been racing since I was 7,” she said.

Michaud joined a soccer team that won the USCAA championship in 2010 and 2011, and lost in the national title game last year. She was a forward in high school, scoring 17 goals as a senior, but she plays as an outside midfielder for the Bengals.

“She’s a little rusty,” said UMFK coach Lucas Levesque, a Thomas College graduate. “I think as time goes on, she’ll be able to carve out a little more of a role.”

“At first, it was definitely a change,” Michaud said. “In high school, it was more of a kick-and-run game. Here, it’s more fast-paced.”

As Levesque describes it, Michaud was able to claw her way to some goals in high school. While she can’t take the exact same approach at this level, those attributes are still on her side.

“Nathalie’s a pretty hard-nosed, pretty aggressive player,” Levesque said. “She plays hard, and she’s not afraid of contact. With Nathalie, a lot of it’s just getting comfortable out there.”

Michaud, who scored a goal in her first college soccer game — a 7-0 victory over Vermont Technical College on Aug. 31 — said she has not set any goals for herself for the rest of her time in college, other than enjoying herself and doing well academically. She hopes to play soccer for three or four years at Fort Kent, and Levesque definitely sees the potential for great improvement.

“Once she gets up to the speed of play from a ball movement standpoint, I think she’ll do well,” Levesque said. “She’s a very intelligent young lady, so I think the more time she has in the program, she’s just going to get better and better.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243
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