Sports Person of the Week
Kagan Brings a Veteran Presence to Guilford’s Defense
Senior Ella Kagan is looking forward to leading the defensive corps for the Guilford field hockey team during the 2020 season. (Photo courtesy of Ella Kagan )
Ella Kagan’s path to the Guilford High School field hockey team wasn’t a traditional one, but she’s certainly made her presence felt on the squad throughout the past few seasons.
Ella, a senior, competed in gymnastics for several years before taking up field hockey in middle school. While she was new to the sport, Ella made a pretty seamless transition to field hockey, because she already had some stick skills as a result of playing lacrosse.
“I’ve been playing field hockey since 8th grade. I needed to find another sport to play after quitting gymnastics, which I did for most of my life,” says Ella. “When I started playing, all of my friends had already played the previous year, but I quickly caught up to speed, feeling so natural. I’ve been playing lacrosse since 2nd grade, as well.”
Ella plays the defender position as a member of the Guilford field hockey squad. She says that the team-oriented nature of field hockey is one of her favorite aspects of the sport.
“We all really rely on one another. Field hockey is such a fast-paced sport. There is always something happening. I instantly fell in love with it,” Ella says. “We are such a close team, always supporting each other on and off the field. We go through everything together, the highs and lows, and I know my teammates feel the same when I say that we’re so blessed to be part of such a great team.”
Last year, Ella helped Guilford put together a perfect season that saw the team go 23-0 on its way to defending its SCC and Class M state titles. Ella will always remember when Guilford claimed a 3-2 victory over crosstown rival Daniel Hand in the Class M championship game.
“Hand is a really strong team, and we really gave it our all, continuing our undefeated winning streak,” says Ella. “I knew right then and there that the immense amount of work we had put in during the season was all worth it.”
Head Coach Kitty Palmer describes Ella as an unselfish player and was impressed with the job that she did with moving from forward to defense last season. Ella is the only starting defender who is returning to Palmer’s squad this year.
“The team needed Ella’s speed on our left side of the field. Opposing right wings are usually the faster opponents, and we needed Ella to match their quickness,” Palmer says. “Ella has become a leader on defense, as her anticipation and aggressiveness are solid. Ella is very coachable and always working and thinking about how to improve her game. We all love Ella’s enthusiasm for the team and the sport.”
Ella feels eager to lead Guilford’s defense this season. Although the team graduated several key athletes, Ella says Guilford still has plenty of talented, up-and-coming players on its roster.
“Although I’m the only starting defender that has returned this year, we have tremendous talent from some of the younger players,” Ella says. “They are an essential asset on the defensive end.”
In addition to taking pointers from Coach Palmer, Ella also spends plenty of time working out at Mangino Strength & Conditioning in Guilford. As a student, Ella works hard to maintain the good grades that place her on the honor roll. Earlier this year, Ella as selected for the 2019 High School National Academic Squad on behalf of the Guilford field hockey program.
While her senior year hasn’t gone exactly as planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ella is taking the 2020 season in stride. Guilford has jumped out to a 2-0 start and has now won 33 games in a row dating back to 2018.
“Although this might not if been the senior year I pictured, I’m so thankful that we are all able to come together and play,” says Ella. “I’m not sure how the rest of the season is going to pan out, but I’m so grateful of the time we have right now, making every day count.”