Oftentimes people will say that doing the right thing is not reserved just for the moments when others are watching, but rather for the times they are not. Senior Kelly Hood (Berlin, N.H.) of Dartmouth's field hockey team embodies that ideology.
Hood, a co-captain on this year's team and an All-American and a member of the All-Ivy First Team from a season ago, defines what it is to be a leader both on and off the field, setting a good example for her teammates and acting as a stellar representative of her coaches and program.
Already this season, Hood has broken two of the program's top individual career records as she became the all-time leading goal scorer at Dartmouth as well as the leader in points. However, one would not know about her personal accomplishments by talking to her, as she is the consummate team player who takes pride in being a member of a team.
"As a senior and captain, my role this season is to set an example for my teammates. Whether we are doing a drill that we do every day at practice or there is five minutes left in a league game and we need to score, my mentality is the same: lead by example," Hood remarked. "Not only do I have to focus on what I am doing as an individual player, but I also have to focus on the team as a whole. As a leader, my job is to get every single one of my teammates to work together to reach a common goal."
Through the first 10 games this season, Hood and the Big Green have gone 7-3, one of the best starts in recent memory for a team that has not captured an Ivy League title since the mid 1980s.
In that time, Hood help lead her team to a four-game win streak and winners of five of its last six. It wasn't until the 10th game of the season that an opponent was able to keep her off the scoresheet completely as Penn did not allow the league's leading scorer to register a point. But that meant little to the Berlin, N.H., native as her team came from behind for the 4-2 win.
It has been exciting for Dartmouth in three Ivy League games to this point. A 4-3 overtime thriller at Brown showed that, despite being down a goal three separate times in the game, the Big Green can climb back into any contest. Another comeback followed at Penn just last weekend to improve to 3-0 in conference games.
But two goals by Hood in Dartmouth's Ivy opener on Sept. 17 at home against then-No. 19 Princeton remains this team's defining win. Handing the Tigers their first loss against a league opponent in 24 games, a streak that dated back to the 2007 season, was something Hood won't soon forget.
"It was the most exciting game I have played in during my entire athletic career. We executed our gameplan perfectly," Hood remarked. "It was even more satisfying knowing that it was the last chance I had to play them."
Her two tallies were all the Big Green needed offensively as the team put forth a complete effort to earn the season-defining victory. For her part in scoring twice, Hood was recognized as the Ivy League Player of the Week, nothing new to the fourth-year player as this marked the fifth time in her career she has been honored as such.
Again, not one to take credit for her own successes, Hood deflects most of the attention back on her teammates.
"When I am recognized for my play I think it really shows what our team, as a whole, has been able to accomplish this year-and that means a lot to me," Hood said. "We have a group of unselfish and committed players who work hard every day, and they contribute to both my individual success and the team's success. Knowing that my teammates are the reason that I have been recognized is both exciting and gratifying."
In her final season in Hanover, Hood knows just how hard it is to reach the goals set for the team at the beginning of the season. That's why she doesn't appear to be letting up or enjoying the attention that has come her way. Instead, Hood is continuing to drive her teammates to continue to improve daily so that come Nov. 6 when the regular season comes to its conclusion the Big Green will be in position to continue playing in the NCAA Tournament.
"My expectation coming into this season was to win an Ivy title because I believed, and still do, that we have a group of players who have the ability to achieve this goal," Hood remarked in the days after beating the Quakers. "This definitely has not changed after the first ten games. If anything, the way we have played thus far has reinforced my belief in meeting this expectation; it seems more tangible now than it ever has before, which is really exciting for both myself and my team.
"Although this goal is definitely within our reach, we understand that we will need to continue to work hard every day at practice if we are going to turn this expectation into a reality," Hood added.
With her name firmly entrenched in the Dartmouth record books as one of, if not the greatest player in program history, Hood continues to seek the spotlight for her teammates and coaches rather than herself as her career comes to a close.
"Because of our work ethic, we are fitter, faster, and smarter than we have ever been," she said. "For the first time since I have been here, we have depth at every position. It's great knowing that every one of my teammates has the ability to step up during a game and positively contribute to our overall success." (Pat Salvas)
Kelly Hood is sponsored by Joel A. Leavitt '50 and William H. Mitchell '79