One More Chance To Play Lacrosse before Graduating
By Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
Brayden Kelleher considered himself a soccer guy, one who originally began playing in middle school and whenever he could during the spring.
While in high school at Holliston, he got involved in lacrosse where he played attack and midfielder for the Panthers, but eventually came to the Hopedale Junior Senior High School.
At Hopedale he wanted to continue playing lacrosse, but the school didn’t have a boys’ program. As a junior there were about five lacrosse players who were allowed to play on a co-op team with Milford, but it didn’t last that long and eventually the team, as far as Hopedale players, was dissolved. Kelleher found out that he would be without a lacrosse team to play for coming into his senior year.
“We were told that Milford couldn’t co-op with us anymore in the Hockomock League,” Kelleher said. “Although we had fun, I wasn’t all that crazy about going back to a co-op with Milford. It was a great group, but our season didn’t go all that well, so it wasn’t a big deal and really didn’t bother me not having a team with them.”
The Hopedale senior was prepared to work during the spring when he would have been playing lacrosse. Then about a week before the season was to get underway, he was notified by the Athletic Director that the school would be co-oping with neighboring Nipmuc.
“When I got the news, I was excited as I already knew 3 or 4 guys on the team as I had played with them during the summer on a club team,” he said. “Of the five of us who played with Milford last year, 2 had graduated and 2 others decided not to play this year, leaving me as the only Hopedale player left.”
Kelleher was excited to be able to play one more year of high school lacrosse before he graduated. Prior to hooking up with Milford last season, Hopedale was trying to co-op with Nipmuc, but things didn’t work out.
Although he was having fun playing for Nipmuc it was somewhat different than in the past as he had to travel to the neighboring school for practices and games.
“It was different. There really wasn’t any Hopedale fans at the games because it wasn’t our school,” he said. “Still living in Holliston, it would take me about 30 minutes to get to Nipmuc, but 45-50 with traffic. I really didn’t have much of anything else going on, so it wasn’t that bad. It was much easier when school was going on.”
Had he not had acquaintances on the Nipmuc team, Kelleher probably wouldn’t have been so excited to join the Warriors on the lacrosse field during tryouts, especially being the only Hopedale athlete.
“I still would have tried out for the team if I didn’t have any friends already there to see how things would have gone,” he said. “Once I got to the tryouts, I had a good idea that I could make the squad and maybe even get to play, but at least I would be on the team.”
Kelleher didn’t really worry too much about earning a spot on the Warrior roster as he had played club lacrosse during the summer over the last 3 or 4 years with the Medway Coyotes and figures his talent would get him a spot.
Initially he would play attack and come off the bench. Eventually he was moved to midfielder as the Nipmuc Coach was still trying to figure things out as the season progressed.
“I personally didn’t care where I played,” the Hopedale senior said. “In fact, with my soccer background I felt that I was better fitted to play midfielder as I had the stamina and the ability to run distance.”
Once the season got underway Kelleher really didn’t set any goals for himself, he just wanted to suit up and go out and play the game. He had one more season at playing lacrosse and he just wanted to have fun doing so.
Nipmuc earned themselves a spot in the Division 3 Tournament where they defeated Pembroke 10-5 in the first round but found themselves on the losing end to Norwell in the Round of 16.
Now that it’s off to college in the Fall Kelleher doesn’t see himself playing lacrosse anymore. He has maxed out in age to return to the Coyotes, but depending how things go he may try to play club soccer, but that will be it in terms of sports.
It may not have been with Hopedale, but at least Kelleher got to play one final season of lacrosse co-oping with Nipmuc.