Monday, January 17, 2022

Sports Person of the Week

Kendrick Moving Forward with the Hornets

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Junior Lauren Kendrick is making huge contributions to the Branford field hockey squad as a starting forward this season. Last year, Lauren was an All-SCC midfielder for the Hornets. Photo courtesy of Lauren Kendrick

Junior Lauren Kendrick is making huge contributions to the Branford field hockey squad as a starting forward this season. Last year, Lauren was an All-SCC midfielder for the Hornets. (Photo courtesy of Lauren Kendrick)

At first, Lauren Kendrick wasn’t sure if field hockey would be the right sport for her. However, after seeing what the Branford field hockey program had to offer, Lauren was sold.

Lauren joined the Hornets as a freshman and became a varsity starter in her sophomore year. Now, Lauren is in the midst of her junior season with a team that has 10 wins heading into the last week of its regular season.

Lauren first started playing field hockey at Walsh Intermediate School in the 6th grade. Lauren was encouraged to play the sport by her mother Nancy, who played field hockey; and Pete Frye, who coached the team at the time. After attending a few clinics run by longtime Branford field hockey head coach Cathy McGuirk and her husband John, Lauren had no doubts that she wanted to play.

“I was really hesitant to play at first. I had never played a sport like field hockey. But they really pushed me to play, and I went to clinics led by the McGuirks. I enjoyed it, so I joined the middle school team,” says Lauren. “Field hockey is a big family community. They had a good reputation. I wanted to be a part of that.”

Lauren enjoyed field hockey more and more as she continued playing at the middle school. She saw herself improving and decided that she was going to join the high school team as a freshman.

Lauren was cross-rostered between the JV and varsity teams during her freshman season. With the JV team, Lauren was able to work on her skills and get prepared for the varsity stage. While she was initially a bit nervous to join the high school ranks, Lauren’s teammates and coaches made her feel comfortable on the Hornets.

“I was definitely nervous at first. The game is much faster and really different,” Lauren says. “I thought it would be much scarier, but when I got to high school, my teammates were really nice. I felt welcome. When I got into the game, I really enjoyed it.”

Lauren became a starting midfielder for the Hornets in her sophomore year. There was a lot of pressure on Lauren when she joined the starting lineup, but she was up for any challenges.

Lauren wound up having a great sophomore season that saw her make the All-SCC Division A Team alongside teammates Scout Engstrom, Lenora Longway, and Nina Shamas. After facing some of the best talent in the conference, Lauren felt honored to have her name alongside them.

“I felt really proud of myself. There’s a lot of amazing players out there,” says Lauren. “To earn something like that makes me proud. It was really surprising.”

One of the biggest challenges of Lauren’s career was a positional change that occurred at the start of her junior season. After playing midfielder for two years, Lauren was moved up to forward for the 2021 campaign. She had previously played forward in middle school.

As a midfielder, Lauren learned how to be versatile by playing both offense and defense. Now, Lauren understands that her role is to help Branford score and get her team the best offensive opportunities possible.

“Playing midfield was really challenging. Basically, you have to play offense and defense. You have to be versatile,” says Lauren. “As a forward, you get to be really creative and work with your teammates. It’s your responsibility to score.”

This year, Lauren has helped the Hornets achieve a record of 10-3-0-1 thus far with playoff berths secured. Lauren says her biggest growth has been in her confidence and that her teammates and coaches have helped her get out of her shell.

“I wasn’t as confident in myself freshman year. I was really timid and shy,” Lauren says. “As I got more experience and advice from my teammates and coaches, I started to feel more confident. My coaches really helped me with that.”

After motivating Lauren to play field hockey in 6th grade, Coach Frye, who is now the head coach of the Hornets, feels proud about how far she’s come in the sport. Frye says that Lauren plays with an aggressive mindset that benefits every aspect of Branford’s offense.

“Lauren is a player that has a special skill set. Her ability to lift the ball separates her from other players,” says Frye. “She has begun to play a lot more aggressively, and this has given our team a new dimension on our front line.”

Alongside field hockey, Lauren has also been a member of Branford’s girls’ basketball team since her freshman year. Lauren says that playing two sports has allowed her to communicate more effectively with her teammates and helped her become a better playmaker overall.

Lauren has made great strides as field hockey player through the past few years, while representing the town of Branford at every step along the way. Lauren feels honored to play for a program with a rich tradition and to be a part of the Branford field hockey community.

“Tradition is a big saying on our team. It’s a big honor to represent Branford,” Lauren says. “You represent the McGuirks, the alumni, the coaches. It just means a lot to be a part of that community.”


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