On Wednesday, Oct. 24, Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) field hockey player Hailey Meader signed her national letter of intent to play for Nichols College, a private four-year college in Dudley.
Meader is the first of four MVRHS field hockey players who will be signing with colleges, a huge accomplishment, Coach Lisa Knight says, since players on the Island can’t start playing until the ninth grade. Meader, who plays at forward, has been a varsity starter for three years.
Meader wrote The Times and said, “I didn’t think it’d be a sport I would end up falling in love with. Now in my senior year, I am so thankful to get another four years playing the sport that I love.”
Meader played both field hockey and ice hockey for MVRHS, and her mother Julie said she knew from the start she wanted to play at the collegiate level, but didn’t know which sport it would end up being for.
“She loves both sports, so it’s really amazing that this is actually happening,” Julie Meader told The Times. There were a lot of colleges interested in Meader, included some in Ohio and Michigan, but Meader fell in love with Nichols’ campus and team, and wanted to stay closer to home.
At the letter-signing ceremony, held in the MVRHS gym lobby on Wednesday, Meader’s teammates, family, and friends joined her in celebrating her accomplishment. Meader said, “My family has been helping me the whole way, and are my biggest cheerleaders. They help to keep me focused, and push me to do my best no matter what.”
“Kids that commit and are able to play at that level are spectacular overall — academically and as human beings,” Coach Knight told The Times. “You have to be the total package to be able to play at that level … and Hailey is a kind, considerate, and genuine person who loves to play. Her smiles are contagious.”
“Nichols is not just getting a great player,” Coach Knight said at the ceremony. “They’re getting a great human being.”
This comes at an emotional time for Knight, who is retiring this year after 32 years of coaching. The team is going into its remaining two games with an impressive 11-3-2 record, and 12 seniors will be graduating this year. “Each one has a special place in my heart,” Knight said.
“She makes every player feel like her daughter, and I couldn’t imagine going through this whole process without her,” Meader said of her coach.
Senior Day will be held during the last game of the season on Sunday at 11 am, at home against Nauset Regional High School, and a ceremony honoring Coach Knight, her staff, and 13 seniors will be held before the game at 9:30 am.