BY Marvin Pave
Boston Globe Correspondant
The first field hockey player at Stonehill to earn Division 2 North Region Player of the Year honors, and a repeat consensus All-American, forward Erika Kelly paced the Skyhawks with 25 goals and 56 points as a junior this fall.
Her sophomore year, the Watertown High grad topped all Division 2 players with 38 goals and 78 points, and sparked the Easton school to the first of back-to-back berths in the NCAA tournament.
"Erika's a naturally gifted all-around athlete who has been a huge part of our success,'' said Stonehill head coach Shelly Morris, whose squad won 17 games and the Northeast-10 Conference title this fall. "She's a great teammate and an unselfish player who can score from anywhere, including the end line.''
The 20-year-old Kelly's father, Bob, who played hockey for Watertown High, coached Erika and her younger sister, Lauren, with the Minuteman Lady Flames. He is a patrolman on the Watertown police force. Her brother, Chris, is also a police officer, in Nantucket.
Kelly was the Globe's Division 2 Field Hockey Player of the Year in her junior and senior seasons at Watertown High, where she starred on three state championship teams coached by Eileen Donahue. A three-sport athlete, the class of 2012 grad also led the state in scoring with 70 points during her senior season on the girls' ice hockey team.
Q.When was the first time you picked up a field hockey stick?
A. At a summer camp run by my future high school coach when I was in elementary school. At that time I was more of an ice hockey player but I figured I'd try it out.
Q. Does your major in criminology relate to your father's and brother's jobs, and do you want to be a police officer some day?
A. It has everything to do with what my father and brother do. I see them as heroes every single day. Although I appreciate what they do, I do not want to be a police officer. I'm still unsure of what I want to do, but I'm sure I will figure it out in the near future.
Q.How close are you to your sister, now a freshman ice hockey player at Northeastern?
A. I am extremely proud of her. She is a huge reason that I have become as successful as I am because she was my biggest rival in the backyard growing up. We train together during the summer and we do not go easy on each other.
Q.In what ways have coaches Donahue and Morris helped you improve your game?
A. Coach Donahue taught me to play with discipline and to strive to improve my game. She has an extraordinary natural talent in bringing out the very best in each and every player she has ever coached. Coach Morris has taught me how to adjust to the skill set and speed of the college game, and brings us together as a family on and off the field.
Q. Coach Morris said you have a special way of getting the team fired up before a game. Can you describe it?
A. We have a dance party in the locker room. But it goes beyond just laughing and dancing. It has a way of taking everyone's mind off of whatever may have been bothering them earlier in that day, leaving nothing but the game and our opponent to focus on.
Q.How has being a multisport athlete in high school helped you in field hockey?
A. It has taught me to rely on teammates with different personalities and dispositions, to take direction from coaches and apply their knowledge to my game, and kept me in shape.
Q.Is there a nonsports person you admire the most?
A. Actually it's a group of people: the brave men and women fighting for and protecting our country.
A. It's been awesome. Over the years we have created a bond on and off the field that is unbreakable. Since our freshman year of high school, Lauren and I have called each other "the magnets.''
Q.What is your reaction to being the first Stonehill field hockey player to be named North Region Player of the Year, and also being a two-time All-American?
A. Amazing and humbling. I am honored and grateful to be recognized for my successes, but they could never be possible without a great team and coaches. The accolades are also a reminder to keep working hard.
Marvin Pave can be reached at email@example.com.