Greenwich High School's Kelsey Goodwin had a stellar 2010 season as a leader and star player on the school's volleyball team. She earned numerous individual awards, was named first-team All FCIAC and first-team All-State and as a senior co-captain led GHS to a thrilling victory over Fairfield Ludlowe in the championship game of the CIAC Class LL finals, giving the Cardinals their first ever state volleyball title.
That victory, however, is bittersweet because it marks the end of Goodwin's volleyball career at GHS. The Citizen caught up with Goodwin recently, via e-mail, to talk about her time with the team, her highs and lows, and what the future might bring.
Now that your Greenwich career has come to an end, what are some of your best memories of playing volleyball for GHS?
My best memory of playing for GHS is playing with my team every day. Our team got along so well and we were so unified; we moved as one.
Having an amazing team really makes the experience memorable and exciting. I'll always remember those games in which we were on and got really pumped up for each point we won. The girls on the court and on the bench would literally be jumping up and down screaming; it was such an adrenaline rush.
However, the irreplaceable part of the team that is unique to GHS is the coach. Coach (Steve) Lapham really instilled pride and confidence in all of us, and he really cared about each of the girls and the program. My best memory of him is when he would play in our scrimmages at practice and run around on the court with us, diving this way, and that way. I think it's exceptional to have a coach who is so willing to have fun and really be a part of the team.
ABC's "Wide World of Sports," focused on "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat."
What were some of your most thrilling victories at GHS?
Of course on this one, I'm going to have to go with our victory in the state championship game against Fairfield Ludlowe. Ludlowe is such a good team, and they got the first two games off of us. Inevitably, it's really hard at that point to imagine a victory for your own team, but we imagined it -- and we made it happen.
It couldn't have been a better feeling at the end of that match, that last whistle signifying that we had come back from a grueling two-game deficit to win three straight games and, ultimately, the match. Most of our other matches we won in three games. In the state finals, to go to our first 5-game match was the most rewarding win we've had. We'll just say that there were a lot of tears of joy going around.
What were some of your most agonizing defeats?
We only lost two matches in our season; one against Darien, and one against Ludlowe. Darien wasn't a bad loss, because we got a great game off of them and we still had the hope of seeing them again during the post-season.
However, Ludlowe took that opportunity away from us, and this is why that was our most agonizing defeat. What made it worse was that we had beaten them in the regular season. But, Ludlowe beat us in the semi-finals of the FCIACs -- and it stung, all right.
We could have easily let ourselves fall into a funk, but we didn't. We used that loss against Ludlowe in FCIACs to come back and power our way through States. All in all, the loss against Ludlowe helped us reshape our offense in order to become even stronger.
We turned a horrible upset against into a new opportunity to accomplish an even bigger goal: state championship. And, we accomplished it.
You were known as a gamer. How did you manage to play through injuries?
For me, when I step onto the volleyball court, nothing else is in my mind except for the game right in front of me. I am a very competitive player, and I love the challenge of new competition. This is why every single match was important to me, not just the overall record.
Since last year, I knew that this upcoming team would be one of Greenwich's greatest teams, and I had worked hard all year and summer in order to make sure I was in top condition to help that happen. Once the season started, my injuries came on gradually, starting with back pains. I was able to ignore it at first, and as it got worse it just became part of the game for me.
The reason I was able to play through the injuries for the most part, however, is because I adjusted the way I played in order to compensate for a bad back, and at one point, a bad ankle. However, I did have to sit out on a fair share of practices and two matches, which was hard for me.
I think the reason I was able to play through my injuries is because my team had a goal, we wanted to be the best, and we all knew we could be.
What was the highlight of your career at GHS?
The highlight of my career at GHS came through a couple of accomplishments. The best accomplishment I'd say is winning states for the first time in GHS history, especially as a captain.
As an individual, the highlight of my career was making first-team All FCIAC and first-team All State. But, the best was being able to play in the All-Star game, because I got to play with and meet all of the best girls in the state.
What will you most miss about playing for the team?
I will just miss the team itself. Regardless of our record and of our success, our team is the closest group of girls I have ever been a part of. We still hang out even after the season is over, and we really care about each other. Of course I'll also miss Coach Lapham, because I really believe he makes the program what it is. But more than that, I'll miss how proud he was of us after each and every game.
Who do you think will pick up your mantle as captain and team leader?
Our team captains for next year are Chloe Griffasi and Ebba Mark. I believe these two girls will carry next year's team far, and I'm sure they'll have another great year. They both have a great passion for the game and for the team, and I know that they are already planning for next year.
You are going out as a champion. What is the best piece of advice you would give to the next generation of Cardinal volleyball players?
I'd say to not let anything get in your way of being the best you can be. The most important thing is to have faith in yourself and in your teammates. Having a positive attitude and realizing that you will make mistakes once in a while is vital, because a player who strives for complete perfection will drive herself mad.
Overall though, I believe that players are most successful when they are having fun.
What do you see as your future in volleyball? Do you plan on playing in college?
I just made the 18's Connecticut Juniors Volleyball club team. I'll be playing on this team starting now and stretching into June, and we will be traveling for tournaments.
As for college, I am focusing on colleges for my academic needs before my volleyball needs. However, wherever I go I plan to play whether it is on the actual team, or if it is just club volleyball. There is no doubt that I will continue the sport as long as I can. I will say that I have crossed off all of the colleges on my list that don't have a volleyball program!