Former Cheverus High star Hannah Abbott is captain of a University of Maine field hockey team that is off to a 4-3 start and begins America East Conference play on Friday. Photo courtesy of UMaine athletics

ORONO — Hannah Abbott seemed destined to become an athlete at the University of Maine.

Her father, Steve Abbott, was the school’s athletic director from 2010-13. Her grandfather, Walt Abbott, was the Black Bears’ head football coach from 1967-75 and twice served as the university’s interim athletic director in the early 1990s.

Hannah Abbott

So maybe it’s not surprising Hannah Abbott is now the captain of UMaine’s field hockey team, a leader on the team picked by America East Conference coaches to repeat as league champion and return to the NCAA tournament.

What is surprising is how none of it came easily.

“Her field hockey experience coming in wasn’t high. (Abbott) had to really work. We recruited her because she’s a good athlete. We knew we would have to develop the field hockey side,” said Josette Babineau, in her 16th season as head coach. “Now she’s a complete player. Now she’s one of our best defenders on the field (with) her distribution skills and offensive skills from her position. Her strength, her fitness, her character on the field as a competitor, our special team unit. It’s amazing to see from the beginning to now.”

A senior defender, Abbott has started all seven games this season. Along with back Poppy Lambert, Abbott is the team’s defensive backbone. She and Lambert are the only two players who have played every minute this season.


Sunday’s 4-2 win over Northeastern improved the Black Bears to 4-3, with two of the losses coming to nationally ranked opponents, No. 25 UMass (4-3 on Aug. 27) and No. 1 Northwestern (5-1 on Aug. 28). Maine opens America East play Friday at home against New Hampshire.

“The first field hockey game I ever watched was at UMaine,” Abbott said. “That introduced me to field hockey, and I started playing in middle school. I always watched Maine field hockey and loved it. I always knew it was a program I wanted to be a part of.”

A Cheverus High grad who also played basketball, softball and ran track in high school, Abbott arrived in Orono in the fall of 2018 with tons of athletic ability, but compared to most of her new teammates, little field hockey experience. Abbott took a redshirt year in which she practiced and got up to speed on the college game. In 2019, she played in six of Maine’s 18 games, starting one. In the 2021 spring season, Abbott played in all 11 games, starting four. Finally last fall, Abbott was a mainstay in the Black Bears’ lineup, starting 20 of the team’s 22 games, including the NCAA tournament game against Miami University.

Improving her field hockey skills was a long, still ongoing, process. Abbott said her father, a former captain of the Harvard football team, and grandfather offered encouragement.

“They always just told me to enjoy myself. Sports is a game. At the end of the day, have fun and enjoy your time with your teammates because it’s the best time of your life. Keep working hard, and it got me where it did,” Abbott said.

Babineau thinks the mental toughness Abbott brings to the game comes from her experience growing up in a family of athletes. Being able to look at her progress and improvement one step at a time, not expecting it overnight, was a necessary attribute as Abbott worked her way into the lineup.

“The conversations I could have with her about the game and how we want to play the game and the tactical side, even though she hadn’t played a lot of field hockey, she was always interested in that side and she could grasp those concepts. She didn’t need to be flashy. She just needed to be solid at the basics,” Babineau said. “Growing up in a family with tough competitors and athletes themselves, and being able to talk with them about the things she’s struggling with I’m sure was a tremendous help to her.”

As a defensive player, Abbott’s contributions do not show up in the box score. Abbott’s offensive stats for her career amount to one assist last season, but her teammates and Babineau see how she contributes. They see Abbott locking down and defending the opponents’ top scorers, gaining control of the ball and transitioning the Black Bears from defense to offense.

“That’s the part of the game that I’m working on the most. I think each year I’ve gotten better at it,” Abbott said.

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