One would be hard pressed to find a more upbeat field hockey player than Central Catholic defender Molly Bryant.
The senior from Bradford had never played the sport prior to her freshman year but she quickly picked it up, so much that she became a starter that first year and is now a co-captain and the team’s only four-year starter.
“I had done everything — cross country, soccer, basketball, track — before (Central), but I wanted to try something new,” said Bryant, who attended Sacred Hearts in Haverhill as a middle schooler. “I never even knew it (field hockey) was a sport until the eighth grade.
“I fell in love with it. There’s something unique about it that other sports don’t have.”
Bryant also plays lacrosse and will be playing for the new girls ice hockey team after playing JV hockey with the boys for two years.
“But I think field hockey is my favorite,” she said. “I just have a lot of passion for it.”
That passion rubs off on the rest of the team.
“You can see she loves the sport and she’s a real role model,” said Raiders coach Josselyn Wilson. “She’s enthusiastic and yet she’s a composed kid and brings a level of responsibility. She’s an ideal captain.”
Bryant’s enthusiasm is reflected in her never-give-up attitude on the field but that’s not just because of her love of the game. He mother, Jean, is also responsible for that.
Her mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999 and, for awhile lost vision in one eye and the mobility on the right side of her body.
Thanks to the benefits of modern medicine, and a lot of therapy and hard work, Jean gradually regained her vision and mobility and now rarely exhibits any of the symptoms of MS.
Her mother’s recovery has been a source of motivation for Bryant.
“Even when it was tough for her, my mom always took care of her children,” said Bryant, who has two older sisters (Sarah and Nicole) and a brother (Michael) who are Central graduates. “She’s really inspiring.
“When things are tough, I just think of her and what she has done. And she’s always been there to support me, no matter what. She’s never missed anything.”
Through it all, Bryant has been a part of Central’s rise in field hockey. The year before she came, the Raiders won three games in the first year of the program. They were 5-8-2 her freshman year and then went a combined 23-14-4 her next two years.
“I think the coaching has a lot to do with it (improvement),” said Bryant, who was an MVC All-Star last year. “And we’re getting better athletes to come out.
“As the program has become more well known, girls who are interested in field hockey and have played it are more likely to come to Central. We’re getting a lot more competitive kids at tryouts.”
And, for the last three years, once these newcomers join the team, Bryant has helped steer them on a positive path.