The beginning of every successful athletic story starts with a dream -- a dream that one day the aspiring athlete will be able to say that they are the best at what they do.
For Bellows Falls native, Kealy Chipman, her dream to play at the collegiate level came later than some, but with her work ethic and desire to improve, her dream became her own reality when she elected to play field hockey at Castleton State College.
"When I was a junior, I had decided that I was definitely going to to play in college," said Chipman in a recent interview. "I knew that I didn’t want my four years at Bellows Falls to be the end of my field hockey career."
Although her decision to play at the next level didn’t fully materialize until her high school years, the building blocks, which allowed her to realize this dream started in seventh grade when she picked up a field hockey stick for the first time.
"I like the little details of the field hockey stick," said Chipman. "Only being able to use one side of the stick really made it a challenge for me and I knew then that I wanted to be successful at it."
After four successful years at Bellows Falls High School, Chipman faced a tough decision on where she wanted to go to continue her playing career. At first, Chipman had her sights set on Nichols College, but after an issue with financial aid arose, Chipman decided that the best fit for her would be at Castleton, a choice she does not regret.
"Castleton was a better fit for me," said Chipman. "My parents got to come and see all my games and although it was not my first choice, I think it was the best choice in the end."
It did not take long for Kealy to immerse herself as a star on the Lady Spartans squad, as she led all freshmen in the North Atlantic Conference in scoring with 10 goals, which also tied her for the team lead.
"As a freshman I felt that I had to prove myself each time I was out on the field," said Chipman.
After two more solid seasons with the Lady Spartans, where she continued to improve upon her point production, which led to an all NAC first team selection for the 2011 season, Kealy reached the apex of her playing career during her senior year, leading the conference with 27 goals and capturing NAC Player of the Year honors.
"Kealy has the natural vision and sense for the game where she knows where to be at all times," said Spartans head coach Tammy Landon, who said that the motivation for Kealy to take her game to the next level materialized out of the Spartans difficult 1-0 semifinal loss to Husson during Kealy’s junior season. "I think that moment really got Kealy committed to pushing herself during the summer, which allowed her to be successful for her entire senior season."
However, it was not the individual accolades that Kealy was most proud of, but instead the thrilling 8-6 NAC championship win over Husson that led to Kealy’s first ever NCAA tournament birth.
"I wanted to leave everything on the field my senior season," said Chipman. "In my mind there was no way that I was going to end my senior season without an NAC championship."
As Kealy wraps up her senior year, where she will be graduating in the spring with a degree in sports administration, she is grateful for everything that Vermont sports has given her and, as a result of her success, had some words for other young athletes growing up in Vermont who have set goals similar to hers.
"Just because you’re from a small school does not mean you can’t play at the college level," said Chipman. "You should not hang your head low because you’re from Vermont, because no matter where you’re from, if you set out to pursue your dreams, you can achieve them."