While the National Hockey League is dealing with its second work stoppage in eight years in the midst of squabbling over money, the Guilford Indians' field hockey team holds onto a player who can be seen as a solid teammate and a "goalie's goalie"-someone who is ready to take a challenge from any point on the field while taking team responsibility for the few miscues she has for her club.
Senior netminder Nicole Snow's fearlessness is only magnified in her journey to becoming a 2012 First Team All-SCC goalie as it was one less traveled. After spending six years in Canada, followed by another four across the pond in England, Nicole came to the United States. Sports was slow to come by as she didn't play a single one in middle school, yet was persuaded to play field hockey her freshman year at Guilford. Not expecting to play much on varsity, much less in the cage, Nicole was thrust into that exact spot due to injuries at the position her sophomore and junior seasons. In another true reflection of her fearless on-field mentality, the senior did what was asked of her with little hesitation.
"I was fine with it. Coach [Kitty] Palmer asked me to step in and I ended up liking it," says the senior netminder. "It's funny because off the field, I am really passive and on it, I am the opposite. I was scared at first, but I just said I am not going to let anything go in the cage. If you are scared of letting in goals and the ball, then you can't be a goalkeeper. The experience [of living out of the country] was good; I didn't want to move. It was extremely different from here, but I want to go back to Canada in the future."
As the one who asked Nicole to step into the new spotlight in a tough situation, Palmer knows the move she asked her senior leader to make was one that paid off for all the right reasons. Palmer also is aware that it doesn't matter where the opponent takes the shot from because she knows her senior stopper will not let it into the cage.
"Nicole has really blossomed into a great No. 1 goalie," says Palmer. "She started varsity at the end of last year, and has become a very acrobatic goalie that isn't afraid of any shot or any situation. She will challenge her opponent to make the good play to get around her. She's been a great team player that is always disappointed in herself and takes the blame for any goals scored against the team. She is also a very unselfish player and person."
In being stone cold and unfazed on the field, Nicole also knows how to balance her emotions when the few mistakes behind net occur. While she feels the total fault on allowing a goal falls on her, she does not fear future mistakes and shakes it off to move on in the game. In playing a spot on the field that requires tremendous courage, it is only fitting that Nicole wouldn't have it any other way.
"It is my position to stop goals, so I feel it is my fault when it happens," says Nicole, who posted nine shutouts and 130 saves this season. "I feel we are a perfect team, so I take the blame when it happens. Even with that though, I feel that you just have to support the team, yourself, and just always be positive. I can't picture myself playing any other position, and if it wasn't for Coach Palmer helping me, I wouldn't be the goalie I am now."
As the calendar turned to November and the chase for a state championship began, her fearlessness behind the cage was further put to the test. As she has done all throughout her career, she rose to the occasion in a Class M State Tournament first-round clash at New Fairfield. Nicole made 21 saves on 23 shots to help lead her team to a 3-2 win in penalty strokes, a shot that she admits nerves her up a little, but excites her even more. She rode that clutch win into another pair of victories over Nonnewaug and Farmington to help Guilford reach the state finals for the first time since 2003.
"It is all up to you on those strokes; it is nerve-racking," says Nicole, who also stepped in last year in net for a win versus Hand on Senior Night. "I had the feeling out there that nothing would get in during the penalty strokes. I was scared yet excited. I already had my brain set on winning, so I was excited to win."
In possessing no fear on the field, Nicole also feels the same is true to win for a team and in life. She expresses the sentiment that to succeed, you must give yourself no off days or off plays.
"You can never take the easy way out on things," says the senior, who thanks her family, friends, teammates, and Palmer for her success. "Even if you are playing a beatable team, you have to try your best."