2021 Gazette Field Hockey Player of the Year: Meghan Carey, South Hadley

  • South Hadley’s Meg Carey, left, delivers a pass in front of Frontier’s Lila Roche during action last fall. STAFF FILE PHOTO/KYLe GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer
Published: 1/12/2022 6:04:26 PM
Modified: 1/12/2022 6:03:34 PM

Tara Cole has been coaching the South Hadley High Shool field hockey team for over a dozen years. During that tenure, she’s seen a number of exceptional athletes come and go. But junior Meghan Carey is one who will have a lasting impact.

“I've been at the helm of the South Hadley field hockey team for 16 years now and she's an athlete who will stick out for me forever,” Cole said. “She's a gem. You don't get many of them like that in your coaching career, that are just the whole package.”

Carey is an exceptional athlete, and a multi-sport athlete as well. She also plays basketball and lacrosse. But she came to field hockey relatively late in her playing career, not picking up a field hockey stick until she was in the seventh grade. It was one of her older sisters, Abbie, who first played the sport, and ultimately motivated Meghan to join.

“I saw how much she enjoyed it and cared for the sport and how many friends she made off of it. So I really wanted to try it out for myself,” Carey said. “She really encouraged me to play and helped me, and I really appreciated that.”

Field hockey, as a sport, can be difficult for newcomers to pick up quickly. An extremely technical game, it requires a lot of technique and skills that can take a while to develop. Despite those difficulties, it was clear very early on that Carey was going to be something special on the pitch. Though she admits that learning the game was far from easy, only a year after she started playing, she was already playing with the high school's junior varsity squad as an eighth grader. That same season, she wound up being called up to practice with South Hadley’s varsity team.

 “Even during (her JV) season, myself and the other coaches recognized her prowess on the field and invited her to continue practicing with us when we made the postseason that year, knowing that she would never see a minute of game time because she was only an eighth grader, but recognizing how important it would be for her as a leader, future leader, the team to know what it's like to keep playing in November,” Cole said.

It proved to be immensely helpful for Carey, who found not only a place to continue honing her skills, but teammates that welcomed the younger player with open arms. 

“They were so welcoming, so supportive. Our team in general is so keen on connections and team bonding,” Carey said on joining the varsity squad. “Practicing with them and helping them get ready for that season. It really pushed me and challenged me to become better, faster, more skilled player.”

It couldn’t have been easy for Carey, joining a team full of juniors and seniors as just an eighth grader, and someone who was still learning the ins and outs of a new sport to boot. But that's what makes Carey such a dangerous field hockey player – overcoming those difficulties is what she loves most about the sport.

“I love the challenge, I loved being challenged. Learning something new, it's always difficult at the beginning trying to figure out the mechanics and certain skill works that you have to do," Carey said. “But once you figure out the techniques and everything, it becomes second nature once you learn the more complicated stuff. I loved everything that involved the sport.”

As she grew older, Carey quickly rose to a leadership role with the varsity team. A natural athlete with both speed and grittiness, she also had a single-minded focus when it came to learning and developing new skills, adding more and more complicated moves to her toolbox. Her speed and tenacity were the two things that Cole said made Carey one of the most deadly players on the field, and she also pointed out that she thinks the game at an extremely high level as well. 

“She has really great field vision, which you don't often see in that caliber with as young as she is,” Cole said. “She's less than five years playing the sport, but there's times that she'll come out... and she'll talk to me about some of the things that she's seeing on the field. Sometimes athletes come out and they say things, and coaches will take it with a grain of salt, but if Meghan tells me she's seeing something there that I’m missing or that could change the flow of the game, it definitely stops us and we listen.”

 Field hockey all-stars

FIRST TEAM

Samantha Brennan, junior, Holyoke

Emily DeMaio, senior, Frontier 

Charlotte Hennings, junior, Smith Academy 

Gabi Moroney, senior, South Hadley

Olivia Labrie, junior, Hampshire

Kaitlyn Lynes, senior, South Hadley

Abigail Olden, junior, Belchertown

Charlotte Ribe, senior, Northampton 

Lila Roche, junior, Frontier

Ashley Scott, junior, South Hadley

Makena Valentine, senior, Smith Academy

SECOND TEAM

Silvia Bastek, junior, Hampshire

Isabella Cebula, junior, Belchertown

April Hurley, senior, South Hadley 

Mikayla Joyner, junior, Hampshire

Alexis Katz, junior, Northampton

Caitlin MacDougall, senior, Amherst

Bailey McCoy, senior, Smith Academy

Molly O’Donnell, freshman, Holyoke

Eliza Rothstein, junior, Belchertown

Abbie Sierzego, senior, South Hadley

Hadley Szynal, junior, Smith Academy

HONORABLE MENTION

Lauren Cooper, junior, Belchertown

Maeve Huit, senior, Frontier

Lily Provost, junior, South Hadley

McKenzie Schreyer, junior, Amherst

Sarah Wojnarowski, senior, South Hadley

Elyssa Wrona, senior, Belchertown


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