Gameday+ | Meet a Buckeye: Kelsey Nolan, field hockey

Ray Stein The Columbus Dispatch
Kelsey Nolan played field hockey at Yale for a season before transferring to Ohio State and walking on its team. [Adam Cairns/Dispatch]

Kelsey Nolan

Sport: Field hockey

Age: 23

Year: Senior

Hometown: Lancaster, Pa.

Majors: TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and linguistics

Question: May we begin by dispelling a myth? How do you pronounce your hometown’s name? In central Ohio we say LANK-iss-ter and many assume you guys used the stuffy Lan-KASS-ter. Which is it?

Answer: I would say LANG-kiss-ter, so more similar to the first pronunciation.

Q: Regardless, how was life growing up in Langkisster?

A: I really enjoyed it. There are a lot of things that I took for granted that I miss now, including the farmer’s markets. There are two (Central Market and Root’s) that my mom would bring my sisters and me to when we were children. We would always get long johns — a kind of doughnut — at Central Market and now I buy whoopie pies each time I go to Root’s.

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Another thing great about Lancaster is how it’s close to so many different places. This made field trips in school very cool as we could go to Washington, D.C., or New York City for the day. My family also made annual trips to the beach.

My third-favorite thing about Lancaster is the landscape. In middle and high school I was a member of the track teams so we ran a lot near our school and I also regularly ran on my own. I love running through the rolling hills and passing cows and fields. I have a more difficult time motivating myself to run in cities.

Q: What’s a fun fact everyone should know about your hometown?

A: Lancaster was our nation’s capital for one day during the Revolutionary War.

Q: Besides you, what famous people came out of Lancaster?

A: Historically, the most famous person is probably our 15th president, James Buchanan. More modern celebrities include golfer Jim Furyk and Taylor Kinney the “Chicago Fire” actor.

Q: Your road from Lancaster to Columbus included a one-year stop at Yale, correct?

A: I went to Yale because I wasn’t particularly interested in playing field hockey at a big Division I school and Yale worked out at the last minute. I played field hockey for a couple of games and then broke my fibula and was out for the season. The injury made my freshman year pretty difficult and I didn’t particularly enjoy being at Yale or in New Haven. It just wasn’t a great fit.

Q: So then what?

A: I returned to Yale for fall semester in 2014 to see if it was any better when I was healthy and could be more involved in campus and field hockey. After the first semester, I decided I didn’t want to return and went home. I shadowed English-as-a-second-language teachers because I thought it was a career I might be interested in. I also looked into transfer options.

Q: What was behind your decision to transfer to Ohio State in 2015?

A: Mostly I based on it having Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages as a major for undergraduate students; a lot of schools only offer it as a graduate or certificate program. I attended Ohio State and tried to email the coach to walk on the hockey team, but that didn’t work out so I enjoyed time at OSU as a regular student. In the spring I walked on and have been a member of the team ever since.

Q: And you got hurt in 2016?

A: That year I began my first season with the hockey team but suffered a femoral stress fracture a couple games into the season and was out for the rest of the fall and some spring recovering from surgery.

Q: All good, all healthy since then?

A: Last year I felt like I was still working back into things after being out for so long, but the season went well and my hip rarely bothered me. This year has been even better so far.

Q: As a fifth-year senior on a team with a lot of underclassmen, do you find yourself giving advice to younger players?

A: I wouldn’t say I’m a huge advice-giver, but I try to be a good role model for younger teammates. I try to show what it means to be a BWOC (best women on campus — an Ohio State field hockey term) and student-athlete.

Q: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were younger?

A: I wish I had known to set priorities and stand by them. When I first went to college I tried to do it all — get involved on campus, have a social life, finish school work and excel in athletics. This did not work for me at all. I was spread too thin and nothing was done as well as it should have been. I’ve gotten better at prioritizing what matters. This allows me to succeed in what I deem important and not worry about things that don’t matter. Prioritizing has made my life as a college athlete infinitely times better.

Q: Do you find that people not part of the field hockey program understand the rules of the game?

A: I’d say the majority of people not directly involved in field hockey (players and coaches) don’t understand the rules, especially not the more nuanced ones.

Q: Is there one particular rule about field hockey that you find confounding?

A: Most of the rules make sense, but one that I don’t find logical is having to move the ball 5 yards before entering the circle if the foul occurs within the 25-yard line.

Q: What is the hardest position to play in field hockey?

A: I’ve played many different positions, and most aren’t too different — you play offense and defense in all of them. I think the most difficult position would be goalie. They play such a mental game and have to be a step ahead of the opponent all the time. Good goalies have such a deep understanding of the game.

Q: What hurts more, getting hit by a field hockey ball or a stick?

A: I haven’t been hit too many times by either, but I would say a stick probably hurts more. It has more force behind it and manages to hit more dangerous places, like your face.

Q: How long have you been interested in your majors?

A: When completing my first degree (TESOL), I took some linguistics courses as electives. I thought these were interesting and would also help support my TESOL education. I’ve always been pretty interested in languages and also in more science-based areas of study so the combination of these fields was appealing.

Q: Have you given much thought about who and where you want to teach after graduation?

A: I student-taught in a high school and would love to continue working with students of that age. I’m not sure if I’ll be in Pennsylvania or Ohio, but I’ll look for employment in both and would be happy in either place.

Q: What will you remember most fondly about your time at Ohio State?

A: It’s cliché, but I will remember the school spirit. I absolutely love this school and love that everyone seems to enjoy it. It makes me extremely happy when the field hockey team is in Iowa, or I’m walking down the street in London or in the middle of Penn State territory and someone yells “O-H!” This spirit will be something I always remember and spread wherever I go.