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The Student News Site of Rice Memorial High School

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The Student News Site of Rice Memorial High School

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Moving On
February 6, 2024
Bessette dunking at Patrick Gym during a game against Brattleboro. (Photo/Drew Bessette)
Bessette Commits to UVM
December 10, 2023

Coach Spotlight: The Longest Standing Female Coach at Rice

Kelly McClintock and Lucy Stillman during Stillman’s senior game. (Photo/Kelly McClintock)

Kelly McClintock was a former Rice Field Hockey player during her time at Rice Memorial High School and returned years later to become the longest-standing female Coach at her alma mater. During her time playing field Hockey for the University of Vermont, she was the fourth-leading goal-scorer in program history. She continued her field hockey success after college winning the Burlington Free Press’s Coach of the Year in 2020. During her time coaching the field hockey team, she successfully moved the team from division three to division one, all the while continuing to reach championships. The following interview dives into her experience with the sport.

Kelly McClintock playing field hockey at The University of Vermont. (Photo/Kelly McClintock)

What has your journey with field hockey been like?

It’s been amazing. I started with my mom coaching me in fifth grade when she started up a field hockey program. Being so young, I had no idea what the sport was about or what it even looked like, however, I soon fell in love with it. I came to Rice, made varsity as a freshman and it was the reason I came to school. It’s where I met so many of my best friends. Then I moved on to college, and it completely changed my life. It gave me a lot of character traits that helped me in my world today, with being a leader, being confident, being strong, and getting to share my passion now, with all of you guys.

What was your journey with the Rice field hockey program?

It’s been such a fun journey because I remember in my interview, the acting Athletic Director at the time was like, what’s better, staying in D3 and winning a lot of titles or challenging yourself by going D1? And I said – I want to be challenged every day, I want to get us to the D1 level. I want to play the best to be the best. And so the process is you have to like to show success in a division before you move up. We have shown our success in these past three. We moved up from the D2 level to the D1 level and we won the state championship – I knew this is where we belong.

Kelly McClintock coaching her team at halftime during the 2020 championship game. (Photo/Kelly McClintock)

What got you into coaching?

My background is I’m a PE teacher. A couple of my favorite things are sports and working with kids. And so coaching is, you know, the ultimate job because it doesn’t feel like a job. I get to show up and do what I love. And on the side, they give me some money for it – which is a plus I suppose, but it’s such a fun environment to share a passion and get to see a team change throughout the year from day one of tryouts to then the last game of the season. Also, seeing how you all have grown as not only a team and athletes but as human beings. As you can see, we bring back so many alumni, and it’s just the team experience that brings these connections to life.

How would you say lacrosse is similar to field hockey having coached both?

I would say there’s so many similarities in the wrist and how you’re going to be getting power from the wrist. It’s just in the air in lacrosse and on the ground in field hockey. The formations for defense are the biggest difference. You know, you’re working around an eight meter for lacrosse versus field hockey where there are no offsides. But as far as the culture goes, we tried to build the same experience with both programs to be consistent in creating memories for life, along with trying to produce excellent teams.

Kelly McClintock coaching the field hockey team. (Photo/Kelly McClintock)

Rice Field Hockey alumni Lucy Stillman and assistant coach comments on her time with Kelly:

What was your time at Rice like being coached by Kelly?

Really cool, especially because I knew she came up through the program, and knowing that it meant a lot to her meant a lot to me kind of like by extension. I really appreciated it especially because I knew that she was going to be not just a mentor for my time at Rice but to mentor beyond that. She has always preached a lot about community, and I know that she really meant it.

Kelly McClintock and Lucy Stillman during a ceremony for Stillman’s 100 goals scored at Rice. (Photo/Kelly McClintock)

How did her coaching affect you?

Honestly, it helped keep me a competitive person. If I hadn’t had such a competitive and hardworking coach and a really important female role model, I might not have taken my career as far as I did. That was really important, having her and knowing that she was as serious as I was.

Kelly’s coaching has left lasting impacts on her players. Current Rice Field Hockey player Emeri Rasco talks about her experience with Kelly.

How did Kelly get you into field hockey?

Kelly was a PE teacher along with my dad at Essex, so sometimes Kelly would always come over to help us put in our boat at our dock for our water access. And every time she’d come into my house it was always, “Emeri you need to play field hockey when you come to rice.” And last year I didn’t. I stayed at home and did nothing – but when my dad passed away, my mom told Kelly that I would at least be the manager to keep me doing something so it wasn’t sitting at home. I was fully planning on being the manager for this season, but on the third day of tryouts, I was told I was on varsity. And here we are.

How has she helped you as a coach?

She’s always been a really big motivator. She’s just so in it with everyone. She’s not just a coach that sits on the sideline and yells – she’s with us as a team. She has a connection with everyone. It’s such a good thing to be around.

Kelly McClintock talking to her team before a game against Burlington High School in 2021. (Photo/riceknightsfh Instagram)

What makes her special compared to other coaches?

She’s got a connection with each and every one of us. She wrote us notes before the playoffs, like a motivational little something for each individual player. She offers brownies as a way of getting certain drills right which is so motivating. No matter how good any game we play is, she always gives us something to work on to push us to be the absolute best we can be.

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