Craft leads younger core by example


Sam TapperSports Writer

If you go to a town like Cheshire, Conn., you will find many girls who began playing field hockey young. However, Southern’s star goalkeeper Brianna Craft’s field hockey career began unexpectedly in high school.

Craft, a senior out of Hamden, Conn., and the starting goalkeeper for the Owls, did not begin playing the sport until her freshman year of high school. As a softball player of many years, she was tasked with finding something to keep her busy in the fall off-season. Though her mother suggested she look for a job, Craft preferred to explore other sports.

“My coach was my [physical education] teacher in elementary school, and we stayed friends,” said Craft. “She coached the field hockey team at my high school, so I was like, ‘I guess, field hockey.’”

Craft did not know much about the sport when she first started, not even knowing what positions there were or what she wanted to be. All she said she knew was that she “didn’t want to wear a skirt.” With that preference and her experience as a softball catcher in mind, her coach made her a goalkeeper.

Though she was playing a sport largely unfamiliar to her, Craft was a quick learner. Throughout high school, she was an all conference selection and a two-time defensive MVP. Before her field hockey career began to fully take shape, and the recruiting process started.

When she arrived on campus, she was quickly thrown into action. The starting goalkeeper job was wide open when she first began, and despite being a freshman, head coach Kelley Frassinelli awarded her the role.

“The piece that put her on the field for us is her dynamic play, her ability of decision making that she had to do,” said Frassinelli, “and one thing she’s had to learn and grow into over the years is her communication skills on the field, so that’s become a huge piece of her game.”

Craft is one of three captains on the team, all of which have their own particular roles within the team. One handles the organizational aspects, another is described as the “disciplinary captain,” and finally there is Craft, who is the “go-to” for anything and everything the younger players need.

Throughout her time at Southern, she has broken records, most recently setting the program record for saves in a game against Assumption College on Saturday.

However, there has been little success regarding the team’s record. Through her first three years, her team has gone a combined 6-48, their last win to date coming in September of 2017.

This year, her team is 0-6.

Despite the struggles, Craft said she has held her head high and kept a positive attitude throughout her career, something she knows she must do when she is leading the younger players by example. Though there were discouraging times, she said her focus was on making the most of the opportunity.

“It’s definitely difficult because it’s not great going through losing seasons, not even winning one game,” said Craft. “You just have to look back on why you’re here: you love the sport. You have to make the most of what you’re here to do. You can have all the skill in the world, but if there’s no chemistry, no positivity, you’re not going to get anywhere.”

Among her group of teammates in 2019 is fellow captain and graduate
student Jana Migliaro, who Craft has spent her whole career with. In that time, Migliaro has seen the Craft’s growth as a player and a leader firsthand.

“She was really quiet coming in, she did not talk really at all,” said Migliaro. “We both were kind of quiet, but we grew into ourselves eventually, so it’s funny to see how she was when she first came in to now.”

As her career draws to a close, it is hard for Craft to imagine where she would be if she did not choose to play field hockey, and she states that she believes she made the right decision in doing so.

“I’m very thankful that I got to come here,” said Craft. “If I hadn’t, I don’t know where I’d be. I wouldn’t have made the friends I have; I wouldn’t have made the connections I have. I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.”

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