Sports Person of the Week
Jacobson Helps T-Birds’ Field Hockey Become a Dynasty
Kelli Jacobson capped off an outstanding career with the North Branford field hockey squad by helping the Thunderbirds win the Shoreline Conference title for the fourth year in a row. Kelli scored 13 goals while leading the team as a captain for the second-straight season. (Photo courtesy of Kelli Jacobson )
When Kelli Jacobson was in 5th grade, she was given a field hockey stick by her cousins Nicole and Heather Hudson. Kelli didn’t know it at the time, but she was taking the first steps on a journey toward an excellent career with the North Branford field hockey team.
Throughout the past four years, Kelli has crafted her legacy as a field hockey player in North Branford. Kelli helped the Thunderbirds win four-straight Shoreline Conference championships and led the team as a captain in back-to-back seasons, while earning numerous accolades along the way.
Kelli started with field hockey by participating in local clinics around North Branford. She also played softball at the time. When she was in 7th grade, Kelli joined the field hockey team at North Branford Intermediate School and also started playing for HTC Field Hockey in Madison. Kelli’s love for the sport really started to take off that year.
“I started playing club field hockey, and I started taking part in practices. I really just fell in love with it,” says Kelli. “I was able to play games during the day with my middle school team. I just absolutely loved it. I loved being in the game and wanting to win and taking part in practices and meeting new people. It just made me love the sport.”
As a freshman, Kelli was already a starting varsity midfielder for the Thunderbirds. In making the transition to the high school level, Kelli was facing athletes who were several years older than her. However, Kelli says that her teammates constantly supported her during her first year with the team and always made her feel included.
Following her freshman season, Kelli decided to stop playing softball. With field hockey taking her to various weekend tournaments, Kelli felt that she couldn’t give softball the amount of time that it deserved.
After being a varsity starter as a freshman, Kelli decided that she wanted to put all of her focus into field hockey.
“With my club team in the spring, it’s very competitive. There are tournaments every weekend. I wasn’t able to attend a lot of the softball practices, because my heart was in field hockey,” Kelli says. “Softball came second to me. I wanted to be able to do to everything I could for field hockey.”
By her sophomore season, Kelli had acclimated herself to the varsity level and felt more comfortable on the field. She also enjoyed helping out the new players who were entering the program. Kelli wanted to encourage the freshmen just as the seniors had done for her the previous year.
With her leadership at the forefront, Kelli was named a captain for North Branford going into her junior season. Kelli continued in that role through her senior year, serving alongside fellow senior Sophia Anastasio. Kelli had wanted to be a captain since she was a sophomore, and holding that role allowed her to speak up and be more of a vocal leader.
“It was a really great accomplishment for me. I’ve always been kind of quiet, but have also wanted to talk out,” says Kelli. “I was really inspired as a sophomore to make junior captain. I always worked hard and affected the team in that way. Being able to show myself and speak up was really great. All the seniors helped me with being a junior captain.”
In her senior season, Kelli scored 13 goals to go with four assists for the T-Birds. She either scored a goal or assisted on a goal in every one of North Branford’s games.
Kelli helped the T-Birds finish the year with a record of 10-0 and claim their fourth-straight Shoreline Conference title with a 2-0 win over Old Saybrook in the league championship game. For her efforts on the season, Kelli was named to the All-Shoreline Conference First Team and the All-State First Team.
“It was amazing. I was able to see just how much you can accomplish in so little time. Everyone just stepped up. Everyone put in the work on their own time. It was amazing to see,” Kelli says. “This season, we had a lot of incoming freshmen. By the end of the season, they were crushing the ball. It was just amazing seeing their growth.”
Kelli has signed a National Letter of Intent to play field hockey at the University of New Haven (UNH), where she will major in criminal justice. Kelli has dreamed of playing field hockey in college since her freshman year and feels proud to see all of her hard work pay off now that she’s on her way to UNH.
“I’ve worked really hard over the past four years to play in college. Since my freshman year, I knew I wanted to,” says Kelli. “It’s really nice to see my hard work paying off and me going to an institution I really want to go to.”
After getting her first stick in 5th grade, Kelli hit the ground running and did everything she could to make her mark on the field. As she gets ready to play at the collegiate level, Kelli knows that field hockey is a sport in which she can keep growing and continue learning.
“It has taught me hard work and dedication. Field hockey is a hard sport where it’s hard to get the basics down, and there’s always more to add to it. There’s always more to learn, which is what I love about it,” Kelli says. “You never fully know the game of field hockey. There’s always going to be more to learn about it. You’re never fully down learning. You always have more to get to know.”