With a Dutchwomen program in rebuilding mode for the 2016-17 season, a positive influence for the team, helping to instill a new culture of confidence involved blueliner Kathryn Davis. Serving as one of the co-captains, it was an opportunity for Davis to make a lasting impression in her senior season, providing the incoming players with a role model.
Raised in Milton, Massachusetts, Davis is a multi-talented athlete who has also displayed proficiency in soccer, field hockey and lacrosse at the Lawrence Academy, where she also gained All-ISL honors in ice hockey. Serving as a stay-at-home blueliner with the Dutchwomen, she entered the season with over 100 career games played. Her steady presence provided new head coach Josh Sciba with a reliable cornerstone to build the team’s leadership core around.
“During my senior season, I was named one of the captains by the team and coaching staff. Even before being named a captain, I already saw myself and the three other seniors as leaders of the team.
I knew we were going to need to help the new coaching staff and the eleven freshmen with any questions they had about Union. We were prepared to take on this task, but we also wanted to strive for a new team culture and leave the program better than when we came in. This goal motivated myself a lot throughout the season.”
What would prove to be the last goal and the last assist in Davis’ NCAA career would emerge as part of a unique chapter in Dutchwomen history. Of note, a power play goal scored in a December 13, 2014 contest against the Maine Black Bears would stand as more than just her last goal.
Scored against goaltender Meghann Tracy in a 1-1 final, the Black Bears goal was scored by Hailey Browne, who now goes by the name Harrison Browne, the first transgender player in the game’s modern history. The 1-1 tie would signify the start of a 59-game winless streak for the Dutchwomen. Coincidentally, Davis would not log another point until the last game of said streak.
An October 7, 2016 home contest against the Penn State Nittany Lions saw Davis and Cheyenne Harris combine for assists on a second period goal scored by Katelynn Russ. Ending in an 8-1 final, it was a game that bordered on the surreal.
From the outset, the game would begin with Penn State’s Amy Petersen scoring the first three goals in a span of 10:31. By the end of the second period, Penn State captain Laura Bowman, the first ever player named to the First-Team CHA All-Stars, would also score a hat trick.
Their firepower would be sorely missed the following day as the Dutchwomen snapped their losing streak, emerging victorious in a 4-2 final. While the points logged by Davis represented a unique bookend for the streak, scoring in the first and last game of said streak, her contributions which consisted of mentoring and leadership were significant factors in helping the Dutchwomen progress this season.
With a confident maturity and acumen, Davis does not reflect on the winless season that plagued the program in 2015-16 as a source of despair. Rather than indulging in self-pity, her leadership qualities rise to the surface, an example of the values that help to define her captaincy.
“I did not look at the previous season as a negative but as a positive because life is all about learning from your past experiences and moving forward. We knew we needed to raise the bar in all aspects of our program and I was consistently pushing myself and others to do that. By the end of the season, I can proudly say that we, the leaders of the team, achieved our goal of making this program better and there is no better feeling than that.”
A prominent aspect of Davis’ legacy with the Dutchwomen involves the awards and honors bestowed upon her. Beginning with the team’s Rookie of the Year Award, it was indication of the promising potential that Davis brought to the program.
Emerging as the scoring leader among the Dutchwomen’s rookies, it was a season that saw her miss just one game. Logging an assist in her NCAA debut, a win against the Connecticut Huskies, she would record her first goal exactly a week later against the Providence Friars. Adding to her momentum was the fact that her second NCAA goal took place in the program’s first conference win of the season, defeating the Dartmouth Big Green.
Fast forward to her junior season, and Davis added two significant milestones to her hockey resume. Gaining ECAC All-Academic Team, it was testament to her dedication in the classroom, signifying the positive meaning of being a student-athlete.
Such dedication also extended beyond the rink and the classroom. A fantastic career at Union also saw Davis give back to the community, adding to a sterling legacy as a hockey humanitarian. Honored with the Ashley Kilstein Award, which is named in recognition of the former four-year letterwinner at Union, it recognizes an athlete whose dedication to the community and community service makes them an outstanding citizen. Such a prestigious accomplishment encompassed her tireless work, admirably raising awareness on campus about pediatric cancer.
“Both of these accomplishments have meant a great deal to me in different ways. The rookie of the year award was exciting to receive. It proved to me that all my hard work before the season and throughout the season had paid off and was being acknowledged.
The Ashley Kilstein award was a humbling feeling. I received it for my participation in community service events and from starting an ambassador group on campus for the apparel company Love Your Melon, which aims to put a hat on every child battling cancer in America as well as donate half of their proceeds to non profit organizations aiding in the fight against pediatric cancer.
I believe both of these awards were the result of hard work and commitment to being the best version of myself.”
In a season where the number of freshmen outnumbered the returning players (11-8), the Dutchwomen were in a very unique position among competing teams in Division I play, boasting the youngest roster. Along with the arrival of a new head coach, Josh Sciba, and the effort to introduce a new culture based on the values of a team-first approach, including character, commitment and respect. Undoubtedly, Davis embodied all of these principles, setting the leadership tone through example.
With a Dutchwomen program approaching the future with great optimism, a season defined equally by both change and renewal resulted in a fitting ending for Davis’ career, helping to usher in a new era built on encouragement and enjoyment. For the new faces on the Dutchwomen whose hockey odyssey was enriched by calling Davis both a teammate and friend, senior night was an opportunity to pay tribute to her impact.
While there will always be a treasured place in her heart for Dutchwomen hockey, she wishes that she could continue competing with the program, helping it in its ambitious rise. Undoubtedly, her leadership contributions shall serve as a lasting legacy for the subsequent group of senior classes.
“Heading into senior night I was filled with emotions. I was sad my career was coming to an end soon, but happy about my journey as a Dutchwoman and how I was leaving the team. I was upset that I could not continue to help the program as a player, but excited to watch it continue to develop as a spectator.
I will miss most the act of being a part of something greater than myself. I will miss playing on a team, being an ambassador for the women’s ice hockey program, taking part in the Union College lifestyle, and enriching myself in studies outside of my major.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
To learn more about Love Your Melon, please visit: https://www.loveyourmelon.com/
Photo credit: Shelley M. Szwast