Caitlyn Boucher and Zoe Utton were once fierce rivals on the basketball court.
Boucher, the 2019 NHIAA Division 3 Player of the Year for the Monadnock Regional High School girls basketball team, and Utton, a First-Team All-State player for Fall Mountain Regional High School, competed against each other often, usually with a shot at the state title on the line.
In fact, in their senior year, Boucher’s Huskies took down Utton’s Wildcats after a late comeback to claim the 2019 NHIAA championship.
But it’s really after that game that their story begins.
At the time of the championship, Boucher was being recruited by Colby-Sawyer College, an NCAA Division 3 school in New London. Little did she know Utton was being recruited, too.
“I literally didn’t find out until minutes after the championship game,” Boucher said. “The Colby-Sawyer coach came up to me and was like, ‘Yeah, you and Zoe did good.’ And I was like ‘Zoe?’ and he’s like, ‘Yeah, I’m trying to get her to come.’ ”
So the two started talking, adding each other on social media and keeping in contact.
Eventually, they decided to be college roommates. Because that’s what rivals do, right?
“We were like, ‘Hey, we’re going to be playing basketball together, you want to room?’” Boucher said. “Why not just break the ice sooner rather than later? And it was awkward at first.”
“I mean, the first week of school, we kind of didn’t talk,” Utton said. “I was a little petty [about the championship]. We were leading that whole game, I worked my butt off, I was the leading scorer. That should not happen.”
Utton scored a game-high 21 points and collected 14 rebounds in that championship game.
But now, in their sophomore year of college, it’s that high school rivalry that helps make the friendship work.
They poke fun at each other and reminisce on some of the fierce battles they had on the court in high school.
“We just joke and bash each other all the time about ‘Ew [Monadnock]’ or ‘Ew Fall Mountain,’” Utton said.
“I always am wearing Monadnock gear,” Boucher said on a Zoom call, with a Huskies sweatshirt on. “And she always craps on me about it, like, ‘Caitlyn could you wear something else, please?’ And it’s just stuff like that, it’s fun.”
Some social media sites have a “memories” feature, where posts will resurface on anniversaries. So, on the one-year anniversary of Monadnock’s championship game win over Fall Mountain, Boucher didn’t miss the opportunity to remind Utton about that special day.
“She did roast me on social media last year,” Utton said. “She’s like, ‘Zoe’s mourning a great loss today.’ And it was a year after the state championship game.”
“I posted that and then Zoe clapped back,” Boucher said. “We did our Throwback Thursdays for our college team, and one of the throwbacks was Zoe and pictures of her from Fall Mountain and I reposted it and I was like, ‘Glad I don’t have to hate you anymore.’ And then she replied to it and was like, ‘Um, I still hate you.’ ”
Some rivalries just never die.
And they both agreed that their competitiveness in high school has been beneficial to their current relationship in college. It gives them another way to connect with each other outside of just being teammates.
“We have that joking aspect,” Boucher said. “And that, I think, brought us together once we got past the first awkward part. So I think it brought a little competitiveness, fun to our relationship.”
Like any good alumni, Boucher and Utton go to support their old teams whenever they have the chance. Sometimes they go to the games together, which doesn’t go over too well with some of the fans.
“It was just funny to walk in and people would be like, ‘What? Why are they together?’” Utton said.
“Like, ‘Dude, what are you doing? Don’t do that,’” Boucher added with a laugh.
Although they were tough competitors against each other on the court in high school, always “elbowing the heck out of each other,” as Utton put it, there was always a level of respect and recognition of talent between the two.
“I never had anything really against Zoe,” Boucher said. “I didn’t like playing against her, like I hated her because she was good.”
“You may say you hate a player, you may say you dislike them, but in the end we’re all just living our life and trying to be the best players we can be on the court,” Utton said. “And no matter what, you should respect everyone around you.
“There were definitely times I absolutely hated Caitlyn,” Utton added. “We just hated each other at the moment.”
But that respect was always there, she said, and, in fact, the competition made them both better players in the end.
Even the coaches noticed the level of respect between the players and how it affected their relationship off the court.
“I think that just points out, even though they were intense rivals, they all respected each other,” said Curt Dutilley, the former Monadnock girls basketball coach who led the Huskies to two state titles with Boucher on his squad. “There’s a great amount of respect, so I think they formed that friendship so easily because of common experiences. It wasn’t a thing of hate playing each other, it was a thing of competition.”
"I mean, that's really what it's all about," said Matt Baird-Torney, the head coach at Fall Mountain. "At some point, they're both going to not be playing basketball, and they're going to take all those same lessons, those friendships, and apply them to whatever they do in their life and be successful because of it."
Having the opportunity to put their differences aside as teammates and roommates in college gave them a chance to get to know each other on another level.
“Zoe’s actually crazy, like funny,” Boucher said. “On the court she’s just this stone-faced, serious person and she’s just determined. And then once I got to know her, I was like, ‘I had the complete wrong impression of you. You’re a chill person.’ It’s just like, eye-opening, I guess.”
But, when all is said and done, some things will never change.
“I still hate guarding her at practice,” Boucher said with a smile. “I’ll admit that I still hate it.”