1st in a series of articles focusing on top Phila-area student-athletes who make their marks on the field hockey pitch as well as in other sports.
Episcopal Academy’s Caroline Kelly is a hockey player, through and through. The junior goalkeeper for the perennial powerhouse EA field hockey program has been instrumental in the team’s success. And, last February, Kelly committed to the Boston University field hockey program beginning fall 2019. But what really sets Kelly apart is her success in another game of hockey — on the ice. Kelly, a three-year varsity starter for Episcopal’s ice hockey team, is one of four females on the team in a male-dominated league and is a key contributor to the program’s 6-3 record to date. She is also a member of the women’s U19 Jr. Flyers club team, an elite group of athletes who play in the States and abroad.
As a forward on the ice for Episcopal, Kelly sees the game from a totally different perspective which, she says, has been key in helping her develop as a field hockey goalkeeper.
“Cross training is really important to me. Not only does ice hockey help with my speed, leg strength, and quick reflexes, but it also helps me learn and understand situations I could stop as a goalie.”
Kelly began playing hockey eight years ago and field hockey, two years later. Unquestionably, she is passionate about both games. But more so, Kelly appreciates the different experiences and enrichment that the two sports and team cultures have provided, as well as the fact that playing ice hockey has helped her grow as a field hockey goalkeeper.
“My advice to younger athletes who would like to pursue multiple sports would be to not let anyone make you choose between them. Work hard in both, no matter who you have to compete against even if it’s boys, because competition elevates your game.”
I caught up with Kelly to find out more about her multi-sport athletic career and her thoughts on playing field hockey at BU in 2019.
What position do you play in ice hockey? “I actually have been moved around a lot. I have played defense for the past 5 years and just this past year, on both my club and high school team, I was moved to forward. I am happy on the ice wherever they need me!”
What are your teams’ leagues? “My school team plays in the InterAc. My club team, the Jr. Flyers U19’s, play in the AAA women’s division which includes the Mid-Atlantic Women’s Hockey Association (MAWHA) and Eastern Women’s Hockey Conference (EWHC) conferences.”
How’s the EA season going? “So far, the EA team has had a strong start, our record being 56-3, and we hope to make the playoffs. I think the highlight for the team has been beating our rival Haverford, 6-4. We have some amazing boys who play on club teams who really know how to move the puck and make good passes. All of the girls also play for club teams and have proven themselves on the ice in a checking league and the youngest (and smallest) of them actually scored on a bar down shot.”
What’s your role on the team? “I was honored to receive the leadership award in middle school and was excited to be a starter as a freshman on the varsity team. I think that I’m a versatile player for the team, able to play forward and help on defense when needed. I also played in the boy’s Quaker’s Bantam league for 2 years, so I’m not afraid to be aggressive when taking a player off the puck. However, I have to remember not to do this when I switch to playing in a women’s game or I end up in the penalty box.”
Tell me more about your experience playing with the Jr. Flyers? “The women’s U19 Jr. Flyers club team has been such an amazing experience and has really developed me more as a player. Like the boy’s Jr. Flyers, we are a select group of athletes with amazing talent and coaches and are lucky enough to play nationally and internationally. My head coach Terry Carkner who was a past Flyers pro, has really elevated our level of play through teaching skills, strategy and grit, and our team just loves him as a mentor.”
How does ice hockey help with your field hockey game? “Stick and puck handling in ice hockey have helped me to have unique stick skills as a goalie, which I tend to overuse sometimes. My footwork in field hockey has helped me learn to incorporate more footwork in ice hockey while playing the puck.”
Share some insights on playing a male-dominated sport in this part of the country: “I have now played 3 years of men’s high school hockey, however before that I played 3 years on a boys club team. I don’t really know of any differences from playing with the boys, but maybe they do. Girls get away with some checking when we play in Canada, so the teams really are equally aggressive and are just as competitive to win. I am aware that not all teams or coaches welcome girls on their team. I feel that the spot must be earned to be respected as a contributor. I am proud to go to a school that values this culture.”
What are your favorite parts of playing ice hockey and field hockey? “Totally different skills and mentality. I love to skate out and fight for the puck, and am thinking offensively and playing together with teammates. As a field hockey goalie, I love to try to read the shooters and experiment with my stick and different skills in stopping the shot before it’s even made.”
Do you think you’ll keep playing ice hockey after graduating from Episcopal? “I would love to continue to play ice hockey at Boston U, whether trying out for the winter club team or just skating out for cross-training. Ice hockey will always be a part of my life and I would like to keep playing as long as possible.”
Kelly also plays hockey with WC Eagles FHC and has another year on EA’s field hockey and ice hockey teams. Then, it will be off to Boston University, where she will major in Film & Television.
“I can’t be more excited to play for the Boston University Terriers where I hope to continue to grow as a goalkeeper! All of the coaching staff have amazing field hockey accomplishments and consistently lead their team to the top of the league. Also, current and recruited players I spoke with are talented, competitive and focused athletes who raved about the field hockey program and their student experience at BU. The university is highly regarded for the film program which I will enjoy studying. During my visit, I had fun discovering many things to do in Boston within walking distance of campus. Finally, I am also a big ice hockey fan and look forward to cheering on my fellow athletes!”
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