Kourtney Kennedy relishes her responsibility as a starting center back for the women’s field hockey team at the University of Connecticut.
The former Watertown High standout anchors the defense for the third-ranked Huskies (16-3). “She has played a big part in our 10 shutouts,” said UConn coach Nancy Stevens.
The 5-foot junior has also contributed three goals and three assists.
A two-time Division 2 Player of the Year and Globe All-Scholastic, Kennedy played on four state championship teams at Watertown.
“We have been the beneficiary of the superb high school coaching Kourtney received [with Eileen Donahue at Watertown],” said Stevens. “At the risk of sounding like a cliche, no one works harder at our practices.”
Associated head coach Paul Caddy added, “As the center back/quarterback of our team, her decision-making is next level. Our attacks begin with her and usually the opposition’s attacks end with her as well, being the deep defender.”
Her family is known in local circles as a true field hockey unit. One sister, Jonna, is a sophomore goalie at Boston College. The other, Ally, is a senior captain at Watertown.
Kourtney caught up with the Globe before the start of the Big East Tournament.
What has it been like to play for two iconic coaches at their respective levels?
I’ve been very fortunate . . . I think Ms. Donahue prepared me more than enough to come here [UConn] to play at one of the top levels. [Now] to be coached by such an amazing and accomplished coach [Nancy Stevens, with a 697-185-24 record in 30 seasons].
Do you cherish that you were able to play with both of your sisters in your senior year at Watertown?
Oh, definitely. I think we lucked out being able to all play together for one year. To be able to win a state championship together, I don’t know how many siblings can say they’ve ever done that. I think my senior year, having them by my side was one of my best experiences.
What was the inspiration for playing field hockey?
I was a competitive gymnast for like 10 years, and then I had a back injury. It was actually a Watertown field hockey player named Katie Carlson who got me into it. She played at Watertown before me and went on to Northeastern. I’m so happy. It was the best decision ever.
I started playing in the second grade with Ms. Donahue’s youth program. Katie really pushed me to take it to the next level. We all did Ms. Donahue’s youth camps. When I was younger, I always dreamed of being a part of that program and winning a state championship.
Are you a diehard fan for any of the other UConn teams?
We’re actually really close with the women’s lacrosse team. They’re always at our games. We’re always at their games. It’s always cool to go to some of the hockey games, the basketball games of course. I mean, seeing all the fans they get, it’s unbelievable. It’s like the whole state of Connecticut is there.
You didn’t lose a game from the start of your high school career until midway through your sophomore year [at UConn]. 126 games. How did you respond to a loss?
It’s crazy to think about that it was like five seasons total and a little into the sixth. I hated [losing] . . . Just like anyone, after a loss, you want to improve and get better and never have that feeling again.
Most memorable moment of your college career?
Definitely winning a national championship my freshman year and going undefeated that season.
How do you perceive Massachusetts field hockey now?
If you look at states like Pennsylvania, that’s all that girls do, field hockey. With Massachusetts, a lot of these athletes are playing multiple sports and not focusing on one sport, which I think is kind of a good thing. There are some good teams in Massachusetts I guess, and some talent does come from [the state], but they don’t always get recognized compared to Pennyslvania, New Jersey, other states.
If you could only eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Who do you want to see live in concert next?
I like country. I’m not really into the rap. I’d see Luke Bryan again. He was one of the best concerts I’ve been to.
If you could have anyone play you in a movie, who would it be?
That’s hard. Probably someone short because I’m only 5 feet.