Kellie Ryan had a stellar junior season for the Gilford High School field hockey team. She scored 19 goals and dished 13 assists. She was nominated as one of Max Field Hockey’s Top 20 players for the month of September, sharing the honor with girls from across the country.
Six of Ryan’s goals were game-winners, with the last one being the sweetest. She scored her 19th goal of the season with 4:51 left in double overtime of the Division III state championship, helping her team end an 18-year title drought.
Ryan’s not done yet, though. Far from it.
“This is definitely my best season and I only hope that it would be since it’s my most recent,” she said. “I only hope to improve from here, though, and keep getting better.”
The First Team All-State selection and nominee for a national All-American team has plans to keep getting better? Well, watch out next year, Division III.
“I’m just hoping to improve my game overall, work more on my stick skills,” said Ryan, who will spend the offseason playing for Seacoast United. “I’m hoping that will help me improve. I play with girls from all over New England. It’s good to get involved with other girls from other divisions because they’re able to help me improve my game in different ways.”
And Gilford Coach Dave Rogacki said it’s Ryan’s work ethic that helps her stand out. He also thinks that same work ethic played a major role in Gilford’s success this season – after back-to-back semifinal losses in 2013-14 and a championship game loss last season.
“There isn’t one practice that Kellie doesn’t work on some part of her game to help improve herself,” Rogacki said. “This constant education is seen by all the players and I feel that they then put more effort into their own individual improvement.”
Her success in the classroom was also noticed this season and she’s been nominated as an Academic All-American with a GPA over 3.5.
Field hockey might be the only sport Ryan plays for the Golden Eagles but it’s not her only passion. Ryan dances competitively for Edgewater Academy of Dance in Gilford. A steady balance of ballet, tap, hip-hop and jazz keeps Ryan busy three days a week and “helps me stay in shape during the offseason,” she said.
“I started dancing in fifth grade and I started playing field hockey in sixth so dance is probably my first passion,” Ryan said.
As much as she’s looking forward to offseason development, Ryan is also eager to get back for her senior season. She’s just trying not to get too far ahead of herself.
“You can never really know” if you’re going to have a chance to repeat, Ryan said. “But we are only losing two starters so we hope we can. But every year, every team is a new team so it’s different every year. … I certainly hope we will be able to.”
As for college, “it’s still way too early to be thinking about that” she said with a laugh. Ryan said she has a few schools in mind, including Saint Anselm and Plymouth State, and hopes to play in either Division II or III.
Rogacki said the best way he can describe Ryan is using a quote from Pro Football Hall of Fame Coach Paul Brown: “Leave as little to chance as possible. Preparation is the key to success.”