Choate defender Mairead Kennedy is an excellent skater with blazing speed. Last season at Duxbury High (Mass.), Kennedy anchored the unit and pitched in offensively with 20 assists while scoring a pair of goals. Kennedy was named a Patriot League All Star and she was a member of the National Honor Society.
Now at Choate Rosemary Hall, Kennedy committed to Wesleyan.
NZ: How did you first get into hockey as a kid?
Kennedy: “Growing up, hockey has always been a huge part of my family. My dad played for his whole life and my older brother played as well. When I was four years old, my best friend invited me to join her hockey team. I had skated before with my family, but never had a hockey stick or any equipment. I did not hesitate for a second. I forced my parents to go buy me equipment and a stick, not even knowing if I was a lefty or a righty. I fell in love with the sport immediately.”
NZ: How would you describe your game? What are your strengths?
Kennedy: “Up until I was about 12 years old, I had always played offense. My coaches always told me that I was so fast, so I always just wanted to carry the puck and score goals. When my coaches switched me to defense, I could not break the habit of just wanting to go as fast as I could. For this reason, I think I am a very offensive player. I enjoy skating with the puck and looking to set up my teammates for a goal scoring opportunity. I would say that my strength has always been my ability to skate and create offensive plays.”
NZ: What are some areas you’re looking to improve this year?
Kennedy: “This year, I am looking to improve my mindset more than anything. I have always been an indecisive person, on and off the ice, which means that I tend to hesitate sometimes. I think that if I can learn to stop overthinking my game, I will have a lot more success. Also, I am always working to have a harder and more accurate shot. Being a defensemen, I think it is really important to have good shot placement and that is something I want to improve on.”
NZ: What has the experience been like for you playing prep hockey, moving up from the high school level?
Kennedy: “High School hockey was a lot of fun. My teammates and coaches became my best friends over the years, so I never really regret the fact that I didn’t choose to go to prep school right away. However, I could already tell before the season even started that playing prep hockey would be a great experience. It was exactly what I needed to be able to get to the next level. Once I started skating with the team at Choate, I noticed the speed and work ethic that each and every player had. In my first game, I noticed a huge difference in the overall intensity and speed. I think that this is due to the amount of time that goes into practicing and training at prep school versus high school. The coaches at the prep level are so dedicated to the team, and that is what makes it possible for the players to improve so much.”
NZ: What were some of the biggest challenges when you first broke into prep hockey?
Kennedy: “One of the biggest challenges for me when entering prep hockey was finding that there is a lot less time for decision making. Every prep hockey team has speed and that is something that I was not used to. It became so much more important for me to start learning how to think ahead. This was definitely hard for me to learn, especially because that pressure is only really felt in-game situations.”
NZ: How was your recruiting process? Were there a lot of teams and visits involved or was it a more simple process for you?
Kennedy: “For me, my recruiting process was probably a little bit different than most. I had known since I was in elementary school that I wanted to play college hockey, but I did not have a lot of knowledge about how to get there. At the end of my junior year, a few college coaches had reached out to me, and I started to really think about where I wanted to go. Obviously I wanted to continue my hockey career, but I also cared a lot about my schoolwork. It became a surprisingly difficult task to find a school that was a good fit for both my academics and hockey. Although it was hard, this kind of made it easier for me to narrow down the schools that I wanted to consider.”
NZ: Ultimately, what made Wesleyan the place for you?
Kennedy: “After visiting Wesleyan the first time, I knew that I loved the environment there and the coaches were amazing. The campus is beautiful and they had everything to offer. Knowing that this school has amazing academics, I thought that this could not be a more perfect place for me to continue my hockey career. I have the opportunity to continue to play at an even higher level, and to get a great education.”
NZ: Our scouts have noted your speed a lot in the reports. Is that something you’ve continually worked on?
Kennedy: “Ever since I started playing hockey at a young age, I have always wanted to skate faster than everyone. I had a lot of coaches tell me that I had good speed, so I focused a lot on that to help my game. During every practice, I try to push myself to go faster so I can further improve my speed. I would definitely say that once I knew that I had speed, I worked on improving that aspect of my game even more.”