Whether on the field or the ice, opponents and teammates alike take notice of Rachel Kennedy. Following her older brother’s lead, the Connecticut native began skating at age four. After years of trips to the Midwest and Canada, she attended the Westminster School in Simsbury, Conn. as an ice hockey player intent on playing in college. 

She picked up field hockey as a freshman because of the school’s three-activity requirement, but she became an irreplaceable part of the line-up by her sophomore year, when Bowdoin Field Hockey Coach Nicky Pearson first saw her play. 

Despite little time for structured work during off-seasons dominated by ice hockey,  by senior year Kennedy’s natural talent made a collegiate field hockey career all but inevitable. That her coach was a Bowdoin Field Hockey alumna helped her choose to play field hockey at the school where she would also be a stand-out hockey player. 

“I saw they were a very motivated team,” Kennedy said, “and they had a lot of traditions that I wanted to be a part of.”

Kennedy credits her ice hockey experience for her quick grasp of her new sport. Her athleticism, scoring instinct and speed translated into 15 goals and 2 assists in 20 games last year.

“She sometimes leaves the ball behind because of her incredible speed and quickness,” said Coach Pearson.

Team Captain Katie Riley ’13 assures that the mere two assists are not an indictment of her passing skills. 

“The assist totals don’t reflect her passing ability,” she said. “She’s a great teammate and we have great chemistry as a team.”

Because of her late start, Kennedy is still improving her repertoire of field hockey skills. 
“I feel like I’m still learning the rules,” Kennedy joked. “Every time the whistle blows I just kind of back away. Either we’re getting the ball or they are.”

The first player to win NESCAC Rookie of the Year honors in two sports, Kennedy started her sophomore year on a high note, netting three goals in their first game of the season.
“I think she already established herself as one of the best players in the league,” Riley said.“I wouldn’t want to put a limit on her ability to grow.”

Though much of Kennedy’s time is dominated by her athletic commitments,  she still finds energy for her interest in American history. She named a class on the American Civil War as a favorite during her first year. She is hoping to diversify her interests her sophomore year, potentially adding the Outing Club and a mentoring program to her list of commitments. 

There are moments when juggling two sports in subsequent seasons has had its difficulties for Kennedy.

“Last year field hockey lost in the quarterfinals, so I was able to play in the first [ice hockey] game” Kennedy said. “But basically, if we’re making a run in field hockey, I’m not on the ice.”
Most of her off-season workouts are dedicated to hockey, though she says general workouts like lifts are beneficial for both sports. 

“I try to skate everyday because you’ll lose it if you don’t,” she said. “It’s easy to fall out of hockey shape.”

After her breakout first year campaign, Kennedy has moved positions from left forward to center, after switching from midfield to forward at Bowdoin. While Coach Pearson warned that teams would be more aware of her this year, Wesleyan could not stop her from opening the season with three goals and an assist. 

If she continues to grow, she will be one of few players who can dominate the NESCAC for two-thirds of the year. But Kennedy says she is aware that she can’t do it alone.

 “I should thank my parents too, give them a shout-out,” she added. “They’re my number one fans. They see every game.”

The sports editor of the Orient chooses the Athlete of the Week based on exemplary performance.