In July, Neil Boudreau and Loren Teter made a cross-country drive that represented a new chapter in their lives. Boudreau and Teter met during their freshman year at San Diego State and started dating shortly after. They were also student-athletes, with Boudreau playing football and Teter playing volleyball for the Aztecs.
At the end of their respective 2019 seasons, both put their names in the transfer portal. Boudreau and Teter both redshirted in 2016 and had an extra year of eligibility to use as graduate transfers. Both made their decisions in March, with Boudreau committing to Morgan State and Teter to UMBC.
“My mom knew and my family knew that I was going to transfer,” Teter said. “And I’d always joke, ‘Well, I’m going to find the furthest place possible and I’m going to go for it.'”
At the beginning of the process, Teter and Boudreau only knew they wanted to find an option where they could play and be close to one another. They didn’t know that option would be nearly 3,000 miles away.
Teter is a libero and led the Aztecs in digs the past two seasons and was seventh in the Mountain West in digs per set (3.60) in 2019. She started hearing from coaches the day after putting her name in portal and almost nonstop after that.
“For a period of time I felt like I had two or three phone calls a day,” Teter said. “I felt like if I wasn’t in class I was on the phone with a coach or if I was in class I had a coach calling me to say, ‘When can we talk?’ … It was definitely a lot of work and it was pretty time-consuming.”
While Teter had a lot of options, Boudreau was on the other end of the spectrum. After walking on to San Diego State’s roster as a punter, he spent two years as a scout-team quarterback before switching to safety last year. In 2019, he recorded one tackle in three games.
To find the best option for both of them, Boudreau and Teter used a tag-team approach. When Teter was hearing from coaches, Boudreau would email schools that were close by. After sending out an initial round of emails, he narrowed his focus to the ones that responded.
The process ended in March when Boudreau received a scholarship offer from Morgan State and Teter accepted a scholarship offer from UMBC. Teter had been on scholarship during her senior year at San Diego State, but Boudreau was a walk-on all four years. For him, the scholarship was a “lifelong dream.”
“I don’t know what the right word is, but it’s just nice to know someone believes in you enough to give you a scholarship,” Boudreau said. “So it was super exciting, definitely — just an awesome, awesome experience.”
The Bears offered Boudreau a chance to play quarterback, which he played in high school and always wanted to play in college. He connected with Bears offensive coordinator Josh Firm, who coached at Wyoming, one of San Diego State’s fellow Mountain West conference members, from 2014-2017.
Boudreau also likes that head coach Tyrone Wheatley has played and coached football at the highest level. Wheatley was an NFL running back from 1995-2004 and was an NFL assistant coach from 2013-2014 and 2017-2018 before taking the job at Morgan State.
“He’s been there and done everything that every football player would want to do and he’s a great guy,” Boudreau said of Wheatley. “It’s just nice being around a guy who loves football as much as he does.”
Teter said UMBC kept the scholarship offer on the table throughout the process and was understanding of her situation. She also liked the team’s camaraderie, saying that head coach Cristina Robertson has made it a priority to recruit players who get along on and off the court.
“That was really important to me, to go into a team that really gelled,” Teter said. “It’s hard to find. I know some really good teams but not everyone loves each other on that team. Being a D-I athlete is competitive, but if you love the girls you’re working with it shouldn’t be too hard to ask for.”
The move has come with challenges, some of which have been exacerbated by COVID-19. Both Boudreau and Teter are adjusting to being at different universities and in a different athletic environment. At San Diego State, the athletic facilities are clustered together and many athletes were also in the same friend groups. So far, Teter and Boudreau haven’t met the other’s teammates.
They also wanted to do some traveling but haven’t been able to take advantage of Baltimore’s proximity to major East Coast cities yet. They have been able to take trips to Virginia Beach, Va., Cape May, N.J., and Ocean City, N.J., but no major cities.
Both had their seasons postponed as well, though on Sept. 22 the NCAA announced a plan for fall sports championships to take place in the spring. Volleyball can start playing games Jan. 22, while football will rely on “institutional discretion” to determine when to start playing. Boudreau and Teter’s master’s degrees will take two years to complete. Both are planning to play in 2021 if there isn’t a spring season.
Both stayed active at home in California when San Diego State closed in March and are continuing that process in Maryland. Teter said UMBC is practicing, though it’s only for one hour at a time. Boudreau is throwing with receivers while trying to master a new offense.
It’s been a unique first two months on the East Coast for the couple, and they don’t regret moving at all. It helps that they’re both athletes and understand the challenges the other faces with trying to balance work in the classroom and competing at the Division I level.
“To have your biggest supporter know what it’s like, what you’ve been through, what you know it’s going to be like and what you are going to go through, it definitely is a huge shoulder to lean on when you need some extra help or are 3,000 miles away from home,” Teter said.
Photo Credits: Ernie Anderson/SDSU Athletics and Courtesy of SDSU Athletics