Idaya Chambers ’21
Kelsey McAlister ’20 began playing ice hockey her as a freshman and now captains the Big Red girls’ varsity ice hockey team. In addition to playing ice hockey, McAlister is an L10 News board member and will be a head counselor at SCAMP this summer.
Idaya Chambers: When did you start to play ice hockey? How did you get into the sport?
Kelsey McAlister: I actually started ice hockey much later than the normal player did. I sustained a back injury during my seventh grade year that took me out of my sports, swimming and softball, for nearly a year. The athlete in me couldn't stay away from the fields and athletic contests. At my friend’s ice hockey game, I turned to my mom and said I wanted to try ice hockey. Everyone thought I was kidding, but once I got the clearance from my doctor, I started my “Hockey 101” and learn-to-skate classes immediately. Most kids were almost half my height and age. It took a lot of drive and hard work to get to where I am now, but it was all worth it.
IC: Do you think that years of experience are necessary to thrive in ice hockey here at Lawrenceville?
KM: The girls’ varsity ice hockey team is an extremely competitive and high caliber team. Almost all of us play year round and train heavily, even off-season. As evident in my experience, I don't think “years” per se are necessary to thrive in girls’ ice hockey at this school, but hard work and dedication are definitely essential.
IC: Who is your inspiration for ice hockey?
KM: As cheesy as it may sound, Kate Monihan ’19 was the first defensive partner I had upon coming to Lawrenceville and I have always admired her love for the game and work ethic. She never let being “the best” be a reason to only give 90 percent. Instead, she used her incredible skill set as a reason to push herself and continue getting better.
IC: How similar is ice hockey to sports like field hockey and lacrosse?
KM: I played varsity field hockey my first year at Lawrenceville (sophomore year) and then decided to devote my subsequent fall terms to off-ice training for the remainder of my years.
However, [over the years] many other hockey girls over the years have played on the Big Red field hockey and lacrosse teams. I personally think that the correlation between hockey and these sports are overemphasized. Hockey is arguably the fastest paced sport. You have shifts of 30-45 second sprints, and then rest for about two to three minutes before doing it again. I cannot think of any sport off the top of my head that is similar in this regard. Field hockey and girls’ lacrosse also have extremely intricate rules, whereas girls’ ice hockey - although legally we are not allowed to body check - we are allowed to be much more physical and use our bodies to win battles and gain dominance on the ice.
IC: If you have played hockey prior to Lawrenceville, in what ways is Lawrenceville’s team different? How have you personally grown?
KM: Big Red varsity ice hockey is a team like none other. Some call us the '”cult” on campus because of our dominance in Irwin [Dining Hall] with the unofficial-official “hockey table” in the Stanley Pod. We are an extremely close-knit team, which is all spearheaded by our coaching staff. Coaches Nicole Uliasz, Nicole Stock, and Brianna Uliasz have cultivated a team dynamic that ensures we are able to match the playing level of the top teams in New England while also having a ton of fun in the process. During the season, we travel almost every weekend to the Connecticut/Massachusetts area, so we are forced to spend an abundant amount of time together, but I think that is my favorite part about the team. We truly are a family.
IC: What has been your favorite moment on the ice?
This is a tough one. Being a girls’ hockey team from New Jersey, when we compete against New England teams, we are frequently considered the underdog. Therefore, our performance in last year’s Taft Tournament shocked both teams and spectators alike. In the first round of the tournament, we won a game in regular time, won a game in a shootout, and then lost to Tabor in a shootout - which landed us in the third place game, which we won.
It's always a thrilling experience feeling as though you are constantly proving yourself to the schools who reside in states that are more well known for hockey. Everyone loves a good underdog story.
IC: What goals do you have for the team the remainder of this term?
We have been matching all the teams we have played thus far, but we are having a tough time finding the back of the net so we aren't seeing the results we would like. We've been working hard in practice for the past two weeks and are excited to see how all of our hard work in the gym and on the ice will pan out in the rest of the season - and we definitely want to see a “W” against Hill [February 12, 4:00 p.m. at Hill].
For additional information, please contact Lisa M. Gillard Hanson, director of Public Relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org.