Athletes are often perceived as existing outside of the student body. Their dedication to sport, rigorous training schedules, and time in the national spotlight frequently distance them from the general population. Yet, their stories go far beyond the jersey. On the field and off, they have aspirations, passions, hardships, and triumphs. Press Pass is a new series dedicated to bridging the gap between athletes and Superfans by exploring what it means to be an authentic member of the Boston College community.
Kenzie Kent - Hockey/Lacrosse
It’s hard enough to balance school and a division one sport in college, but playing two sports seems next to impossible. Yet, Kenzie Kent of the women's hockey and lacrosse teams does just that; she defies the impossible.
A three-time all-American and three-time participant in the Under Armour All-American game for lacrosse, as well as a two-time member of the US U-18 National Hockey Team, Kent managed to shine in both sports during high school. She attended Noble and Greenough, a prestigious prep school in Dedham, Mass., that excels both in the classroom and on the field, something that Kent found familiar at Boston College.
Freshman year, Kent played on a line alongside Alex Carpenter and Haley Skarupa—two of BC’s greatest players to ever take the ice. She was fourth in team scoring with 38 points (seven goals and 31 assists) and was +46 on the hockey team. She continued that success the following year, finishing sixth in team scoring with 43 points (15 goals and 28 assists).
Her individual statistics aren’t the only thing that improved after her freshman year; the whole mindset of the hockey team was different in Kent’s sophomore season. By focusing on the little things, says Kent, the women were able to perform and outmatch teams when it came to the championship matches (winning the Beanpot and Hockey East titles) because of the habits they developed in the less important games.
“Going into this season, our coaches really harped on just being competitive in each practice. I’ve never been a part of such a competitive team; I think that’s very helpful having everyone around me want to win so badly,” said Kent. “It helps staying motivated to win. Our coaches would always remind us of the bigger goal, bigger picture. That helped us refocus between each period.”
Her on-ice success translated into success on the field. Despite only playing eight games (of 18) at the end of the women’s lacrosse season, Kent still finished sixth in team scoring with 25 points (22 goals and three assists) and was named to the IWLCA All-Rookie Team.
This season, she came in six days after losing in the women’s hockey national championship and contributed four points in her first match of the season. With only two games under her belt so far in the 2015-16 season, she has already earned eight points, scoring four goals and four assists.
Kent never imagined that she would be playing two sports at the D1 level; hockey wasn't a possibility in her eyes. “Going into the recruiting process, I didn’t look at any hockey schools,” said Kent. “I came here on a lacrosse visit and the lacrosse coaches mentioned that the hockey coaches wanted to talk to me."
Katie King Crowley and Courtney Kennedy (coaches on the hockey team) are the biggest reason that Kent says she came to BC in the first place. She sees similarities with her personality and the style of coaching and believes it’s the perfect match: a laid back attitude that can be serious when need be. Kent believes that they have had so much success because the coaches understand the pressures and what it takes to be a student-athlete. They have been there in the past and know it can be hard.
“I had no idea college coaches even knew who I was, so after talking to them, it was kind of a game-changer,” said Kent. It was that visit that sold Kent on the idea of Boston College and continuing to play more than just lacrosse.
Kent began playing both sports around her third grade year. Her mother Jen, a three-sport athlete at Colby College—it clearly runs in the family—began coaching lacrosse out of college, so Kent always had a stick in her hands as a child. She and her five siblings grew up at the boarding school where her parents met and her mother returned to coach.
In 2007, Jen Kent became the assistant coach for the Boston College women’s lacrosse team. While Jen doesn’t directly coach her daughter—she is the defensive coach, and Kenzie is strictly attack—Kent says it’s sometimes amusing to watch her mom interact with some of the other girls. When coached by her mother in high school Kent, would sometimes get frustrated by her mom’s double duty, but in college, it has been much more helpful having her mother by her side.
“Going into a team halfway through the season, when I barely knew any of the girls, it was helpful having a familiar face there to make me feel more comfortable,” said Kenzie. Not only having her mom double as coach in season, but going to school near her hometown of Norwell, Massachusetts has certainly made Kent’s transition to BC easier.
However, the changeover isn't seamless. Though Kent would say that her two teams are probably the closest women’s teams on campus, there is still a huge change in play, schedule, and dynamic when switching between sports.
“The biggest change is practices. The hours that you need to put into lacrosse as opposed to the hours I had to put into hockey... [there are] longer days for lacrosse,” said Kent.
The game of hockey is played based on minor changes, mistakes made by players on both sides, and a quick pace that only gives you so much time to act and react. “You just figure out your position and play,” said Kent.
Lacrosse, on the other hand, is a more strategic game. The team has to watch film and learn plays, study other offenses and defenses, and fine-tune their own. “There’s so much more to learn in lacrosse. You need to focus a lot more. It was a little bit of a struggle last year,” said Kent. “This year. I know the motions already, so the transition (was) a lot smoother, I think.
“I took so much time off last year, I was so nervous. After the hockey season, I [didn’t] even want to do this anymore; I was so tired and there was so much to learn,” said Kent. “I was just stressed out, so I took two or three games off, and then this year, I just had more confidence going into it.”
“We had an amazing hockey season. I think it was the best one that BC has ever had, and that’s something to be proud of, but I wasn’t really satisfied with the ending—my personal play, and then also as a team, we really thought we were going to win," said Kent. "Not winning it was probably the worst I’ve felt after a game in my career, just because it was so close and then to have it not be in your hands. After that, I took a few days off—I literally slept and didn’t really go to class.”
Despite how proud she was of her team, Kenzie felt she was leaving the season incomplete. So, less than a week later, she decided to listen to both her heart and her body telling her it was time to get back at it.
“The combination of not being satisfied with how the hockey season ended and being able to play UNC—it was a school I almost went to, they’re an amazing team—I felt up to it and my body felt good,” said Kent. She was ready to take on her next challenge, to keep the fire burning.
But there is still the challenge for Kent to make sure the fire inside her doesn’t fizzle out. “It’s extremely tiring … I miss out on social events and school work. I know academics is the most important part of being at this school and sometimes I can't give my full attention to it because I’m too tired. The hardest part is being tired and not being able to focus on the main reason I’m here.”
While there is the struggle of keeping up with school, Kent sees that the rewards heavily outweigh any of the hardships being a two-sport athlete brings. One of the better parts about the overlapping schedules, recalls Kent, is that she misses what she refers to as probably one of the hardest preseasons of any team.
“Some people think it’s crazy that I’m on two teams, (but) I’m really lucky to have double the teammates. On both teams, I just love all the girls and the coaches,” said Kent. Hockey, though, is her first team, the sport she played first at BC and where she met her best friends. While the dynamic and environment is different, Kent believes that the attitudes on each team benefit her in many ways. The motivation and discipline of her lacrosse teammates helps her stay focused on getting better.
She finds both teams very different, but there is one connection that will remain constant over her next few years here: the potential for success. The ultimate goal is to return to the Frozen Four and win a national championship with her girls on the ice, and then to take the field and get a ring with lacrosse, something Kent sees as a real possibility.
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