Just like athletes dread the last minutes of each game, Keene State College seniors are experiencing mixed feelings as graduation day gets closer and closer. “It’s really great to look back at all the good times we’ve had here, and it’s sad to think about leaving,” KSC senior and member of the field hockey team Katlyn Simula said.
The Field Hockey Owls ended their last season on a high note. The team won the Little Eastern Conference and made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament. Coach Amy Watson said winning this year created a special feeling for the team. “Last season we just missed it. We lost the conference in the finals by one goal, so them being able to come back and do that this season was a very big deal,” Watson said.
Watson said the seniors played an important role guiding the younger Owls. “They were all very close and they always reached out and helped the younger players on the team,” Watson said. This year the team is graduating six seniors: Aimee Donaruma, Leddy Gallagher, Stephanie Morse, Julia Forgione, Mary DeMatteo and Katlyn Simula. Watson said all but one of the women came to KSC as freshmen. “They have grown together, they get to be pretty close — we are like a family,” Watson stated.
Team captain and senior Donaruma agreed the seniors’ guidance contributed to the team’s chemistry. “We tried to lead by example and we all [the seniors] played a big leadership role. The freshmen had six leaders to look up to. I think that was a big game changer,” Donaruma said.
According to senior player Gallagher, these achievements make it tough to think about graduation. “We had a great season, we all worked very hard to earn this, and then it is time to move on and it’s definitely bittersweet because it has been such a great time,” Gallagher said.
Donaruma agreed, “Our team bonds really well on and off the field. We worked very hard and we all wanted to win.”
Simula, Donaruma and Gallagher stated winning the LEC and making the NCAA “Sweet Sixteen” in both their sophomore and senior years was one of their favorite memories of KSC athletics.
Donaruma went on, “Being an athlete really changed my college experience. It would have been so much different. I spend all my time with the team. I don’t know what I would have done [if I didn’t play field hockey].”
The seniors said leaving KSC after defending the Owls’ colors for four years seems tough yet exciting. “I’ll never forget my time with the team, but I also am excited for new things to come,” Gallagher said.
New and great things will come for the field hockey seniors, coach Watson said. “I know all of them are going to do really well in whatever they decide to do. They are all really hard workers,” Watson stated.
Yet, two of these senior Owls will still be part of the team next semester. Seniors Donaruma and Simula will be walking on May 10 with the class of 2014, however they are not leaving the locker room of the Spaulding Gym quite yet. According to Watson, Donaruma and Simula are coming back in the fall to help her coach the team.
Donaruna, who is majoring in nutrition, said she is interested in making a career in coaching. Still, she said putting the competitive level behind her is a challenge. “Leaving the competitive level is definitely going to be the hardest part because I love to be a competitor. It is already weird to think about being in the coaching side instead of being a player,” Donaruma said.
As a piece of advice for younger players, Simula said, “Always play hard but mostly, really enjoy the time you have with your teammates and coaches and friends because it flies.”
Karina Barriga Albring can be contacted at email@example.com