ANDOVER — Chelsea Hu was a shy sophomore at the end of the bench, just days removed from being promoted to JV/varsity swing player, secure she would never be called upon to make her varsity debut against powerful archrival Central Catholic.
Then Andover High coach George Sullivan shouted her name.
“We were playing our rival Central Catholic,” she remembered. “I had just played well in the JV game and was sitting on the sidelines relieved there was no way I was going to play in this big game. We were behind and I heard Coach Sullivan say, ‘Chelsea!’ I looked around and said, ‘What? Why is he saying my name?’
“I went in and everyone was a little confused. But I didn’t do as bad as I thought I would. After that Coach Sullivan told me not to go to JV practice. He said I was on varsity permanently.”
Two years later, Hu is now an All-MVC selection and cornerstone of the Andover team which won the Division 1 North title on Saturday, and tonight will play three-time defending state champion Barnstable in the Division 1 state semifinals at 6 p.m. at Bridgewater-Raynham.
“What a way to end my high school career,” said the 5-foot-7 Hu, a key reserve last year when Andover lost to Newton North in the state semis. “Barnstable is a team we have always dreamed of beating. It’s been three years since they beat us in the state semifinals and we are thrilled to be playing again.”
Hu’s emergence as an All-MVC outside hitter is nothing compared to her breakout as a co-captain, according to Sullivan.
“She has done so much more for this team than I ever could have expected,” he said. “She was so quiet when she first got to the team that you were afraid to talk to her about something because you thought she might cry. We didn’t know if she could become a captain and tell people what to do. But she has been incredible. She has really broken out of her shell this year.”