'He is always a part of our team': MCI football program plays for fallen teammate

Athletes inspired by fallen teammate

PITTSFIELD, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - Nolan Berthelette  had endless interests. He loved soccer, he played the drums, he liked art, he white water rafted. 

"He just excelled and stood out not matter what he did," said his dad Ray Berthelette. "Sports, music, art. He had a goal of making the world a better place. He just cared." 

In the summer of 2014, Nolan decided to join the Maine Central Institute football team. He was going to be a freshman in the fall and did not know a lot about football, but he had a competitive edge, and wanted to be a part of the program. 

"He was a soccer player who played soccer like a football player, and he never really got a chance to even play football," said MCI Head coach Tom Bertrand. "We were looking forward to him trying that out. He was a guy who liked to try out a lot of things."

Then in July of 2014, Nolan died suddenly from a brain aneurysm. His family and friends were devastated by the loss, but the MCI community immediately came together to support the Berthelette's. 

"That day we just took it upon ourselves to go be with them and be around them, because they are the closest thing to him," said Nolan's friend and former teammate Devon Varney. "By being with the family it felt like we were with him as well."

Friends, family, and the MCI community were there for the Berthelette's from the moment they left the hospital. 

"There were hundreds of people, including the football team, and so that was pretty emotional coming back," said Ray Berthelette. "That was the start of it, knowing that we had the community behind us. It made us realize that Pittsfield was a special place."

That following season Ray began volunteering as a coach with the Huskies. He wanted to give back to a program that had given his son so much. 

"I think Ray appreciated that Nolan never got a chance to do something that he wanted to try," said Tom Bertrand. "We had brought Nolan right in even through he was not a part of the football community growing up."

"They kind of opened the door and have us the invitation to be a part of the team. So since then I have been right there with the team for the last four years," said Ray Berthelette. "I train with the kids, I work out with them year round. I go to practices, I run with them. I have been to every Varisty and JV game in the last four years. I haven't missed one.

This year Nolan would have been a senior. His number would have been 13. His teammates pay tribute to him wearing it on their helmets, their shirts, and even their gloves. 

"As a team we wear a sticker on the back of our helmet," said Nolan's friend and former teammate Adam Bertrand. "We are constantly reminded that he is on our team and always there on the field with us and wherever we go."

Nolan's number hangs in the Husky locker room next to the door. His locker sits by the entry way. No one had touched it until this year, when his little brother Nason joined MCI's program as a freshman. Now he shares Nolan's space and passion. 

"We have JV games where I get to play, and just standing on the sidelines it is fun to watch," said Nason Berthelette.

Nason wears the number 13, just like his brother. After he graduates MCI Head Coach Tom Bertrand says no other person will wear the number 13 in the Husky program.

Last year MCI won the Class D state championship. But this year they have their sights set on a different prize. In a new class with new competition, they push farther into the Class C playoffs.

"I think our guys can do it. Again, if they believe and how bad they want it and how hard they try. I wouldn't be surprised if they are in the huddle and you see the 13 coming up," said Ray Berthelette.

MCI will play Winslow in the Class C regional semi final at one o'clock on Saturday.

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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