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Kayla Holt is eager to lead the Old Saybrook field hockey team as one of its senior captains this fall. Kayla is also a captain for the Old Saybrook girls’ basketball team. (Photo courtesy of Kayla Holt )
Kayla Holt is living proof that hard work pays off. A senior on the Old Saybrook field hockey team, Kayla has earned captain’s honors for the Rams this season as a result of her efforts.
Kayla, a forward, started playing field hockey in 6th grade after being inspired by her mother Michelle and cousin Alexa Mulvihill, a former standout in the sport at Westbrook. Ever since that moment, Kayla has been a fixture on the field.
“Both my mom and my older cousin played field hockey, and the two of them definitely influenced me a lot,” says Kayla. “When I was younger, I would hit the ball around with my cousin, and I would try to learn as much as I possibly could from her. Ever since I starting playing, I fell in love with the sport.”
One of Kayla’s favorite aspects of playing field hockey for Old Saybrook is the chemistry and confidence that’s prevalent on her squad. Last year, Kayla helped the up-and-coming Rams finish with a record of 8-9-1 while qualifying for the Class S State Tournament. Kayla is looking for Old Saybrook to continue heading in the right direction this season.
“One of the best feelings in the world for me is when we have all been working on a specific play or concept for a long time in practice, then we get to the game, and everyone trusts one another, it finally all comes into place, and everyone does their job,” Kayla says. “This year, especially, I’ve already seen so much connection between the girls, and I’m really excited to see how it all plays out.”
The Rams saw their fair share of success throughout the 2019 season. Kayla’s favorite moment of the campaign came when they notched a 4-0 victory against Haddam-Killingworth on Senior Day.
“It was definitely a bittersweet moment, because we were losing a lot of important people to our program, but it was really cool to see all of them acknowledged and celebrated for all that they’ve done their past four years,” says Kayla. “We put in all the effort that we had to make sure that we could secure a win for our seniors.”
One of Kayla’s biggest supporters is Old Saybrook Head Coach Nancy Gatta. Kayla credits Coach Gatta for helping her make steady improvements throughout her high school career.
“I have a really close relationship to my head coach. Nancy has known my family for a really long time, and she is by far one of the best coaches I have ever had,” Kayla says. “Not only does she know the game extremely well, she is constantly looking for new ways to improve our game. She consistently communicates with myself, as well as my co-captain Taylor Stone, to make sure that we are all on the same page, and keeps us up to date.”
Coach Gatta enjoys coaching Kayla and calls her one of the bright lights on her team. Gatta says Kayla often lends words of support to her fellow Rams.
“Kayla is always positive and encouraging to her teammates. It has been great journey with her in these three years that I have been her coach,” says Gatta. “To watch Kayla develop into the high-caliber player she is and to hear about her future dreams for college and beyond has been one of my favorite things in coaching her. Kayla is the epitome of Ram pride, and I am lucky to be the one on the sidelines coaching her and watching her mature into a phenomenal young woman.”
Kayla spent a lot of time working on her skills and doing conditioning at Old Saybrook High School during the summer. Even though there was uncertainty hanging over the fall season due to COVID-19, Kayla wanted to make sure that she was ready to play.
“This past summer, I would go to the turf at least once a week to keep my skills and conditioning intact, even though the future of our season was uncertain,” says Kayla. “Whenever I have free time still, I love going to the turf with my friends and practicing skills that we may not get to in practice.”
Kayla has received All-Shoreline Conference Second Team accolades in field hockey the past two seasons and is also a captain of the Rams’ girls’ basketball squad. On top of that, she’s a member of the National Honor Society at Old Saybrook.
Kayla wants to finish her career as a Rams’ athlete on a positive note. She has great aspirations for what the Old Saybrook field hockey team can achieve this fall.
“I have really high expectations for the upcoming season. Although we did lose a good amount of key players last year, there are a lot of girls that are stepping up this year, especially on the defensive end,” Kayla says. “I also have noticed a strong connection between all of us. We work really well together as a team, and we have a lot of strong players. Despite some setbacks due to COVID, all of the girls seem to have a positive outlook on the season, and we are all really excited to get to play again.”