Meredith Heaney ’19 stepped up to the spot to take the stroke. Varsity Field Hockey was playing host to Hotchkiss, a team that Deerfield hadn’t bested in seventeen years. She adjusted to the ball, wound up, and sniped it past the Hotchkiss keeper into the top-left corner.
“She had a sick celly,” teammate Christina Halloran ’20 remembered. “She threw her arms down and then jumped in the air. We all ran to her and celebrated. It was a memorable moment.”
“Everyone was happy for her and knew she deserved it,” said co-captain Mimi Pastor ’19. The girls came away with a statement 4-2 win, thanks in no small part to Heaney’s control of the midfield.
Heaney began playing field hockey in seventh grade, and immediately fell in love with the sport. During her career she has played for both Fairfield County United and the Field Hockey Club of Connecticut. She has started on the Varsity Field Hockey team all three years at Deerfield and attributes much of her success to her older sister.
“I started and decided to play field hockey because of my sister. She started playing two years before me and encouraged me to stick with it,” noted Heaney.
A crucial aspect of leadership is mentorship, and Heaney sets the example for her younger teammates. “We all look up to her hard work, her poise, and her humility, especially for me as a younger player.” said Talbot von Stade ’21, “She’s one of the most hard-working people you will come across.”
Heaney’s leadership on and off the field has led the team to not only grow athletically, but also bond socially. Heaney knows when to lock in and when to have fun, and whichever mode she is in, she gives her all.
“One of her defining qualities is her competitiveness,” said Varsity Head Coach Kristen McVaugh. “Her desire to win and compete at the highest possible level makes her a pleasure to coach.”
Heaney cites Serena Williams and Tom Brady as her biggest athletic influencers.
She commented on Williams’ athletic prowess, “Serena’s just a powerhouse. She dominates the competition every single year.”
Heaney’s leadership is only half of the equation in terms of her impact. She also possesses some of the best ball-control on the team.
Von Stade attested to the fact, saying, “She has incredible stick skills that allow her to get around double, triple teams. Even after the teams we play realize they have to double-mark her, she keeps working.”
As well-rounded a player as she is, Heaney does have one strength appreciated by teammates and coaches alike: dangling.
Ms. McVaugh commented on this special skill set saying, “Dangling around players is her specialty, and her teammates get fired up when she does it.”
“She dangles everyone,” Halloran added.
“Meredith was elected to be captain this year because she leads by example,” McVaugh explained. “She is a hard-working, committed, and skilled player who pushes herself to get better every single day.”
Varsity Field Hockey finished September undefeated with a 5-0 record. They’ve run the competition rampant, winning their first five games by a combined score of 20-7. Despite their stellar start, the team knows there is a long schedule in front of them.
“As a team we’re hoping to make the playoffs and finish undefeated,” Heaney said. “So far we’ve started off well.”
Heaney’s commitment to finishing the season on a strong note is apparent: “She truly cares about the team,” McVaugh said, “and is eager to see this group reach their full potential.” To think that the team hasn’t reached its full potential yet should frighten the rest of the schedule.
Heaney will be continuing her field hockey career at Columbia University next fall.