By Logan Bulls
November brings a shift in season, not only with the changing fall foliage adding to the picturesque scenery but the scenery of fall sports going through a similar transformation as well. After three months of non-stop practicing, morning lifts, and long bus rides traveling for away games, fall athletes have completed their regular season play and transitioned into conference tournament play in pursuit of winning a championship in the Southern Athletic Association.
As the Women’s Field Hockey Team was seated at third in their conference, they put in a valiant effort to beat Transylvania, ranked at sixth, in pursuit of advancing to semi-finals. In a major upset, Transylvania beat the Tigers in a buzzer beater, leaving the Tigers with a 10-6 record.
Going through a rigorous season is hard enough to do once, but for athletes like Ceara Caffrey (C’20), a member of the varsity field hockey and the varsity lacrosse team on the mountain, her love for participating in Sewanee athletics reflects in all of the accolades that she has collected over the years.
This junior from Scituate, Massachusetts is a member of the NFHCA National Academic Team, NFHCA All-Great Lakes Region Second Team, All-SAA Second Team, has been named SAA Offensive Player of the Week for field hockey more than four times, and has started in a majority of field hockey games since freshman year.
After all her awards, Caffrey is still humble, ascribing her motivation to “the fact that I love both sports so much. I have done a year with one sport and a year with two. I enjoyed the year with both sports more. It’s an honor to be able to play two sports in college, and I don’t want to take advantage of that.”
Saying that Caffrey is field hockey’s most valuable player is an understatement. For the Tiger’s season opener, right off of the bat, she was named SAA Offensive Player of the Week while scoring three goals against Ohio Wesleyan, adding to her collection of scoring just shy of 40 goals in her career thus far. Throughout the entirety of the season, Caffrey’s tenacity and hustle have paid off, making her a main contributor in the Tiger’s successful season.
Caffrey notes that her most memorable game this season was against Bridgewater. Even though the Tigers were down 1-0 for a majority of the game, she scored a goal within the last 10 minutes, causing overtime. Just as luck would have it, a lightning delay was called simultaneously with her goal, forcing the game to be halted for an hour and a half.
When the game resumed, with only 1:34 left on the clock, Caffrey utilized a fast break opportunity which led to her scoring the game-winning goal, thus crowning the Tigers victorious.
With all of the accolades and memories accumulated, Caffrey was not always painted as a field hockey phenom. Even though she was a three-season athlete throughout middle and high school, she began playing field hockey at a later start during eighth grade. Because she grew up watching her older sister play field hockey at the collegiate level, she wanted to follow in her footsteps by pursuing the same future.
Originally committed to the University of the South for field hockey, during her sophomore year she decided to also play lacrosse, a decision that she said “helps me create a set schedule and forces me to stay on top of my work.”
Craving year-round competition, Caffrey notes that “freshman year at Sewanee during the spring was my first season when I didn’t play a sport and I hated it. I mean, I had spring ball for field hockey, but it wasn’t enough for me. I love playing sports, and it’s good for me and my diabetes. It forces me to be on top of my diabetes and managing it.”
Even though most would let diabetes be a deterrent in their life, Caffrey handles it with stride. Being a diabetic athlete has not held her back, and in fact, it has propelled her to success.
Because she has been managing this disease since 2009, when she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at the age of 11, she is used to handling responsibility and being held accountable for her own actions. Caffery is veteran at overcoming obstacles, and even though she knew that being a dual athlete would be difficult, she faced the challenge head on.
Re-trying her hand at lacrosse, a sport that she has not played since high school, Caffrey dusted off her stick and rekindled her love for the game by walking onto the women’s lacrosse team, a decision that she has never regretted.
“Yes; balancing lacrosse, field hockey, and college life is very difficult. It takes a lot to balance school work, my sports, and a social life. There’s always a point in the season in which I hate balancing all of it. But I just push through because I am fortunate enough to be able to continue playing the two sports that I love,” explained Caffrey.
Even suffering a previous back injury from field hockey, this did not stop her from being a powerful player on the lacrosse field. In addition to being a member of the IWLCA National Academic Team, she played in 12 games, recorded six goals, scooped up six ground balls and caused six turnovers.
Caffrey’s dedication, hard work, and tenacity are traits that are hard enough to find an average college student, but her ability to balance school, her social life, diabetes, and two collegiate sports is an anomaly that everyone should strive to follow.