Field Hockey’s Kristen Heavens balances intensity, calm in the goal

She didn’t even know what field hockey was. But after she entered her freshman year of high school, she would soon find herself slated as a starter between the field hockey pipes.

Kristen Heavens, Vermont’s senior goalkeeper, did not even plan on playing field hockey until high school friend urged her to play.

She wasn’t immediately appointed as the teams starting goalkeeper, but a series of fluke occurrences led to her being the last line of defense on a team struggling to win.

“I actually started off as a field player, a defender.  I didn’t make the transition to goalie until halfway through my freshman year,” Heavens said. “In the field, I wasn’t very coordinated, at that time my legs kind of got in the way.  So my coach asked me to try goalie out.”

Before Heavens became the starting goalie her team hadn’t won in eight years. But after her team’s starting goalie suffered a concussion, she was thrust into the starting spot and the winning became a part of Heaven’s legacy.

Five years in goal and a scholarship later, Heavens found herself in a similar situation, fighting for the starting job as a redshirt freshman. Another freak injury led to Heavens being the starting goalkeeper, and she started her career off with a bang.

“My redshirt freshman year, my first game was against Davidson in the Catamount Classic and we won 3-0, I believe,” Heavens said.

Despite being so young in the net, Heavens refused to let pressure faze her.

“I thrive under pressure, I like pressure situations and to be the underdog,” Heavens said. “It’s just something I enjoy.”

Now in her senior year, Heavens must deal with the pressure of trying to help turn around a team that has gotten off to a 0-4 start.

Given that Heavens doesn’t like to make losing a habit, she is entirely confident that the team will turn it around.

“Right now we’re trying to build together, from the bottom up, but I feel we’re definitely going to be a competitor in the conference,” Heavens said. “Without a doubt. We’re going to give teams a run for their money,”.

As a captain, Heavens is relied on to bring the intensity, which she hopes to use to help spark the team’s turnaround.

“Everyone that knows me knows that I’m a pretty intense person,” she said.
“I like to give off intense play and aggression and have it rub off on my teammates,”.

Another way of helping the younger teammates keep their heads up is to remain optimistic and make sure they are not hanging their heads after each loss. A positive environment, Heavens says, is crucial to winning.

“Our team and our coaching staff has done a tremendous job of staying positive this year,” Heavens said. “We like to pick out the positives and what we can build on, our goal is to grow every game.”

Though the non-conference games are important, they also serve as an opportunity for the team to gain more cohesion and progress as a unit.

Heavens said the team is learning to come together during the non-conference games and will be ready to make their mark once conference play begins.

And as intense as the keeper gets, she knows when to cool down and make sure her defense keeps its swagger under pressure, as she always has.

“As much as I try to bring intensity, I try to keep my defense as poised as possible, I try to be intense and at the same time, calm in pressure situations,” she said. ?