With the US national women’s ball hockey team capturing their first-ever silver medal at the ISBHF Worlds, this watershed moment brings with it an amazing group of heroes, all contributing to such a glorious chapter in their own unique way. Among such an exceptional collection of talent, Kelly Foley brought an incredible passion for the game and a determination to the team that saw her rewarded with the privilege of the assistant captaincy.
Possessing a love of the game runs in the blood, Foley’s deeply held aspirations are also a tribute to her family. Of note, Foley’s mother, Dawn Sprague, played with the Providence Friars from 1974-78, while her sister Catherine, was a charter member of the Boston University Terriers, donning their colors for two seasons, culminating in the spring of 2007.
Coincidentally, Providence would have another profound impact on Foley’s career, besides the association with her mother. On January 10, 2012, she led the Dartmouth Big Green in battle against Providence in an outdoor game at Fenway Park, gaining an assist on the game-winning goal scored by Camille Dumais. In the aftermath of Frozen Fenway, she would even get to meet Boston Bruins’ great Bobby Orr.
Having spent four seasons with the Dartmouth Big Green, Foley’s pillars of accomplishment include multiple national championships at Assabet Valley, along with the prestige of the Boston Bruins’ John Carlton Award. For such a distinguished competitor, it only scratched the surface of many other succeeding yet unique highlights.
In addition to the privilege of the team captaincy with the Big Green, Foley would also gain entry into the 100-point club, becoming the 33rd player in program history to reach the celebrated milestone.
During her time at Dartmouth, Foley was surrounded by a collection of notable teammates including Amanda Trunzo, who would compete in the Red Bull Crashed Ice championships, gaining a Top Five world ranking in 2017. Sasha Nanji became the first player of East Indian heritage to grace the ice in the CWHL, while goaltender Linsday Holdcroft would call Foley a teammate once again with Team USA’s entry at the 2015 ISBHF Worlds.
The ball hockey connection at Dartmouth extended beyond calling future Team USA star Julia Bronson a teammate in her freshman year. It also included Reagan Fischer, who would capture a Canadian Ball Hockey Association national championship as a member of Calgary United in 2016.
With back-to-back seasons of at least 30 points, Foley also enjoyed three seasons at Dartmouth with double digits in goals, amassing a career total eclipsing 50. Earning First Team All-Ivy honors plus selection to the New England Hockey Writers Association All-Stars, she graduated as the recipient of the Big Green’s Team MVP Award Winner.
Such offensive brilliance continued into ball hockey, with the 2017 ISBHF Worlds adding luster to such an exceptional body of work. Foley’s prestige as an elite Ivy League competitor certainly brought a prestige to the US.
Compared to the performance at the 2015 edition of the Worlds, the US were hardly a carbon copy. Foley would help the team deliver on all accounts in the medal round, providing an entrenched belief that no opponent was impenetrable.
Ranking among the top 10 leading scorers at the tournament, while placing second among all American-born players, trailing only Taylor Steadman, Foley would rather focus on the final score than the stat sheet. While her offensive numbers allow her to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the world’s finest, Foley is modest on such achievements, testament to her team-first approach.
“Well, this is news to me that I was on that list. Yet, I think that it goes to show that our team and our line especially had a lot of chemistry and a ton of fun playing together.”
From a ball hockey perspective, Foley may have scored the most important goal of her career in a landmark win against the two-time defending champion gold medalists from Canada. Knocked off their golden perch, humbled to the reality of the bronze medal game, the proud Canadian roster endured their first-ever loss against the US.
Of note, Foley contributed the first goal of the game for the US, part of a gripping 3-2 win. As former NWHL competitor Cherie Stewart and breakout star Taylor Steadman contributed the assists, Foley’s goal reinforced the team-first approach, as all players were interdependent in the goal of creating a great team. With the win assuring the US of at least a silver medal, a meaningful first, Foley’s place in program lore is definitely concrete,
“It was obviously important for us to beat them in order to advance and guarantee a medal for the team. Yet, it was an all-around team win and some of the most fun ball hockey we saw because of the pace and caliber of play.”
Although the historic win against their eternal rivals represented Foley’s favorite moment at Pardubice, profoundly changing the perception of the US in the international game, she was not constrained by her own personal aspirations. Instead, she looked at the veteran players of the team, those who helped form the groundwork, turning the program into a robust organization, acknowledging what the win meant to them with an admirable sense of grace and dignity.
“I would have to say beating Canada and seeing the reaction of some of the players and staff that have been in the sport for a long time compared to us newbies and understanding how big of a deal it was for them.”
Foley continued to hold the hot hand, scoring in the gold medal game, as an ambitious and energetic US squad pushed the host country Czech Republic into overtime. Coincidentally, Big Green alum Julia Bronson would assist on Foley's goals in the medal round. Despite the loss, such a performance demonstrated the potential that the US holds, bringing honor to a frustrated program that can now build on a new tradition of outstanding achievement.
“Yes, I think everyone was proud of each other and it was certainly great to celebrate afterwards and take in the experience. Playing in front of that many people can be tricky but everyone played at the level of the Czechs, and Canadians as well in the previous game, which was a major improvement over the 2015 experience.
It still felt like a pretty big accomplishment with some really great people and teammates at the end of the day. We all had a really good time.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credits: Daniel Soucek, Headshot by ASHI, Image with Bobby Orr by Blaze Joel (Dartmouth Staff)