The list of reasons to admire her is long. Two-time ISL All-League athlete Jackie Kelleher ’12 earned 12 varsity letters while playing field hockey, ice hockey and lacrosse at Brooks. After graduation, she dominated Division I field hockey for Boston College, participated in the USA Field Hockey Women's National Championship and competed in USA Field Hockey's Under 21 Championship.
Her generously taking time to share advice with current students during our annual Kippy Liddle Day yesterday is another thing to appreciate.
In remembrance of late history teacher and crew coach Kippy Liddle, Brooks honors the outstanding achievements, accomplishments and character of female athletes with a guest speaker every Spring.
Speaking to the student body assembled in the Frank D. Ashburn Chapel on April 10, Kelleher shared her own story and offered current students advice. (At a reception in Brooks’ new admission building following Chapel, she continued to encourage, meeting athletes playing on her former teams and chatting with them one-on-one).
Perseverance was one of the main themes in Kelleher’s Chapel message. “There were so many times that I genuinely thought my coaches were never going to reward me for my hard work or that none of what I was putting myself through was actually going to matter, but I trusted my process, controlled what I could, and it paid off,” she said about competing for Boston College.
Lessons she learned during her years at Brooks served her well during college and beyond. “My work ethic, the determination I learned while at Brooks, in particular while having the opportunity to be a part of women's sports here, has instilled the qualities that allowed me to become the student athlete I was at B.C. and allowed me to realize that with a big dream and immense amount of hard work and a good attitude, good things happen.”
Without the foundation of her positive experiences at Brooks on sports teams she said, “I'm not sure I would have had it in me to push through what I experienced mentally and physically while at B.C.”
Urging students to learn from her story, Kelleher — currently working in Boston as a Director of Revenue Operations at software development company DataRobot — addressed them directly.
“Freshman and sophomores, I encourage you to listen, absorb and watch your older teammates, dormmates and classmates,” she said. “They've walked in your shoes and can help you not only navigate this place, but can help you be better than they once were.”
“Juniors and seniors,” she added, “although it may not seem … that you're … someone that are people are looking up to, you are. Everything you do and say is an example for someone else and I encourage you to realize that and wake up every day with the intention to put your best self forward in everything that you do.”
Kelleher’s memories of the mentors on her sports teams remains strong today. She draws on their support still.
“I owe a lot of my character to them, and to this place,” she reflected. “Brooks athletics made me who I am: my character, my confidence and my work ethic. My time as a collegiate athlete absolutely shaped me — but my time with Brooks athletics brought the absolute best out in me, and instilled qualities that are core to my being today.”
“I have this place to thank for molding me into the person who pushes thoughts [of self doubt] away, bears down and grinds through the process and I encourage each and every one of you to do the same… “ Kelleher concluded. “It'll be the most rewarding thing you learn here.”