Kennedy closes career with record-breaking year

Field Hockey Player of the Year

by C. Jemal Horton

Callie Kennedy scored 30 goals and had 18 assists, helping Charlotte Latin to the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association State title. (C. Jemal Horton/SCW photo)

For the first time since South Charlotte Weekly began selecting the top field hockey player in Mecklenburg County six years ago, the honoree does not play for Charlotte Country Day School.

But that’s not the only thing that makes Callie Kennedy a rarity.

Kennedy, a Charlotte Latin senior, cemented a spot in the North Carolina record books in 2011 by scoring 30 goals, breaking the state’s career record of 77. Her 30 goals shattered her own school record (28 last season), and she added 18 assists to lead Latin to its second consecutive state title.

The banner season resulted in Kennedy becoming the first Hawk to be named South Charlotte Weekly’s Field Hockey Player of the Year.

Previous winners of the award include Country Day’s Katie Plyler (2006 and 2007), Arlie Pearce (2008) and Loren Shealy (2009 and 2010). Plyler and Shealy currently are strong contributors for national runner-up North Carolina.

“Callie could play at the (Division) I level, too,” Latin coach Deb Savino said. “She absolutely could. She’s that good.”

Surprisingly, though, for someone with Kennedy’s skill on the pitch, she doesn’t aspire to be a college player.

“I’ve been at Latin since I was in kindergarten, and it’s a small, nurturing environment, which I’ve loved,” Kennedy said. “But I just decided that, for college, I want to go to a bigger university. I’m looking at UNC, Virginia and Vanderbilt.

“I just decided that I don’t want to play at that high level of competition. I’m definitely going to play intramurals if they have intramural hockey wherever I go, and maybe even club. So I’m not letting field hockey go. But I want to explore other things in college, have some more opportunities.”

Kennedy’s decision probably isn’t much of a surprise to those on the local field hockey circuit. That’s because, over the years, Kennedy’s all but disappeared from the circuit once Latin’s season ended.

Unlike many successful players, Kennedy doesn’t play field hockey year-round. Also a gifted soccer player, Kennedy played that sport year-round when she was younger. But then she quit so she could get involved in other things, such as volunteering at Carolinas Medical Center on Saturdays and playing the piano.

Her big-picture approach to field hockey also might explain why Kennedy wasn’t consumed with pursuing the state’s career goals record this season.

“The good thing about Callie is that she doesn’t really think about all that stuff – there’s no ego there,” Savino said. “She had no idea that she was breaking the North Carolina record. She never even thought about adding up her goals throughout the year.

“She’s just a good leader, she has composure, and she’s a good team player.”

But although Kennedy won’t play field hockey in college, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t appreciate what she achieved this season.

“It’s an awesome feeling,” she said. “I couldn’t have ended my high school career on a better note.

“But the great thing is that I was able to do it while our school won states again.”

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