Well, it was fun while it lasted.
Brooks three-sport star Caroline Kukas of North Andover loved her time in high school as a field hockey player and softball standout. But now, she feels, it’s time to focus on ice hockey, which has always been her first love.
The super talented goalie and our 2019 Max Bishop Female Athlete of the Year will be joining a strong St. Anselm program in the fall where she will vie for the No. 1 spot with competition that will include Haverhill’s Michaela Kane.
“I fell in love with the sport when I started as a 3-year-old and I’ve been playing goalie since I was 6,” said Kukas. “When I’m in the net, there are no distractions and nothing else is in my head. I can focus on what I need to do.”
Kukas has focused on what needs to be done with terrific success. She has been one of the top-ranked goalies in New England for nearly a decade and she has dominated in the prep school ranks since her freshman year at Brooks.
A four-time All-Independent School League player, Kukas was an All-NEPSAC first team selection the last three years and, the last two years, she was the Division 2 Player of the Year. She had a 1.62 GAA this past winter with a .940 save percentage and was named U.S. Report Goalie of the Year.
In past summers, Kukas has spent considerable time playing softball and preparing for field hockey, but this year she’s mainly focused on continued training as a goalie.
While she may be specializing on hockey at St. Anselm, field hockey and softball won’t be far from her mind and she’s glad that she participated in both the last four years. Among the three sports, she earned 12 varsity letters at Brooks.
“I thought about not playing one (field hockey or softball) but I could never do it,” said Kukas. “I had never played field hockey until I was a freshman but I fell in love with it, like hockey. The team was amazing and the spirit was great.
“And I always loved softball. I know I’ll miss both sports (at St. Anselm), softball maybe a little more because I’ve been playing it longer.”
But not much longer. Kukas grew up in Peabody playing baseball and was a starter on the Peabody West Little League team that made the state finals in 2013. The next year, she switched to softball.
“I kind of reluctantly switched,” said Kukas, who the next year moved to North Andover. “I was okay with it but not really excited about it.”
But Kukas and softball proved a great fit. At Brooks, she was a three-time Eagle-Tribune All-Star, including as the 2018 MVP, and batted over .500 each of the last three seasons. Brian Martin had the pleasure of coaching her on the diamond through her junior year and was convinced that she could have been a fine college player.
“She is the rare player who can win a game at the plate, with a defensive gem, on the base paths or with her savvy play on the diamond,” said Martin. “She’s just a great athlete.”
Kukas’ athleticism served her well in three sports at Brooks but, although the college softball coaches may try to persuade her to give two sports a try, it will now likely be restricted to ice hockey at St. Anselm, a college that reminds her of Brooks.
“It’s a smaller school like Brooks and I really like that it’s tucked away and has its own area,” said Kukas, who plans on majoring in biology.
If it’s really like Brooks, then Kukas should make quite an impact at St. Anselm regardless of how many sports she’s involved with.
Caroline Kukas notables
Four varsity letters
2018 NEPSAC All-League Honorable Mention
Key member of ISL and undefeated Class B prep champions
4-time ISL All-League player
2-time NEPSAC All-League first team
2-time NEPSAC Division 2 Player of Year
3-time ISL All-League Player
Batted over .500 three straight seasons
3-time Eagle-Tribune All-Star
2018 Eagle-Tribune MVP
Selected as Brooks top female athlete in graduating class