Keirra McFadden takes a shot in the Thunderbirds’ playoff game against Montpelier.

FRANKLIN — Keirra McFadden, a four-year varsity field hockey player at MVU, was recently named 2020 Capital Player of the Year.

Coach Mel Hurlbut, new to the program this season, spoke highly of McFadden.

“There are two kinds of leaders in the world of athletics. There are the leaders who stand out in front, inspiring their team with words. Then, there are leaders like Keirra McFadden, who lead by example,” said Hurlbut.

Hurlbut noted that McFadden is the first to arrive and the last to leave the field, and she is always looking to improve her game.

“Keirra is constantly putting in the extra work at the end of practice to hone a skill or go for a “quick run” of a mile or two.”

McFadden, one of MVU’s two center midfielders, utilizes excellent communication skills on the field.

“Keirra is in constant communication with those around her, helping to guide them and cheer them on,” said Hurlbut.

“Her field vision and knowledge of the game has grown exponentially this season, due in large part to her coachability and willingness to learn coupled with her own natural talents.”

Hurlbut admired McFadden’s composure.

“Keirra has weathered a lot in her four years and has finished this season as one of the most advanced, mature, and professional players in the league.”

McFadden was named captain of the team by a unanimous team vote early in the season.

“It has been an honor coaching her this past year, and she has left some large shoes to fill for next year,” said Hurlbut.

Like many high school athletes, McFadden wondered if she’d get to play her final season of field hockey.

“I was so excited when I found we could play, and I was excited to have a senior game,” said McFadden.

McFadden played for two coaches in her tenure at MVU: Jeanne Rainville and Mel Hurlbut.

“I had three great high school seasons. This year, the new coaches came in, and they had so much excitement and drive to see who we really were as people and as athletes,” said McFadden.

“Mel came with a whole new game plan. It was challenging after playing three years one way. It was different, but once I got the hang of it I enjoyed it.

“All of the seniors this year stepped up to lead the younger players. We were there to support our teammates in and out of school.”

The game played against North Country on October 16, will be one McFadden remembers.

“That was the best game I played all season. As a group, it was one of our best games. We played our own game instead of adapting to our opponents,” said McFadden.

“The whole team had a great day-everyone was in it together as a whole.”

McFadden, a multi-sport athlete at MVU, loves the strategic side of field hockey.

“You really have to stop and think and put a bunch of scenrios together to see how things will go,” said McFadden.

“It’s cool to be remembering all the plays and skills in the midst of all the other things, like school and other sports, that you may be doing.”

McFadden thanked Mel Hurlbut and Brook Hoyt for their dedication to the team.

“Mel because she stepped into a position that we all needed, and Brook was so positive and helped us so much with goalies,” said McFadden.

“They work really well together, and it’s nice to see two coaches communicate as they did.”

McFadden also thanked Jay Cummings, the ‘team dad.’

“Jay texted me every morning before game day and brought motivation, feedback, and brought a positive outlook on the games,” said McFadden.

“Field hockey has given me a family of friends to be with; it was a place to go and have fun and get my head in a positive mindset, regardless of what was going on.”

McFadden will graduate with the class of 2021 and has already enlisted in the Vermont Airguard. She will go to training after graduation and return for college.

She would like to play field hockey with a college club team or an adult league so she could stay in the game.

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