Facing a roomful of family and friends on Friday night, the normally stoic Rachel Rockwell was suddenly overcome by the emotion of the moment.
“I want to thank you all for coming,” she began, and added through tears, “I’m just so happy!”
Almost as one, the entire roomful of hockey players began to laugh and cry along with her. For this tight-knit team, the success of one teammate—or in the case of the Friday night ceremony, the success of three—is a moment of celebration for all.
On Friday, Ms. Rockwell signed a national letter of intent to play with Providence College, a small Division 1 school that both she and her parents described as a “great fit.”
Providence just so happened to be the alma mater of Coach Christa Talbot, who beamed as first Ms. Rockwell inked her committment, then teammates Delaney Belinskas ’16 and Morgan Fischer ’16 signed with Boston College and the University of Connecticut, respectively.
“This has been a family for the last four years,” Ms. Rockwell explained of the hockey team during an earlier interview. “We’re one of the closest teams on campus. We never leave each other’s sides.”
That bond had formed through years of fierce competition and encouragement. The team eats their meals together and sends little notes of support to each other through group texts, Ms. Rockwell said.
Ms. Rockwell said she had been drawn to that same spirit of unity at Providence College, where she found the community similarly welcoming and close.
“I wanted a school that had a good student-teacher relationship,” she said, adding that Providence students were “outgoing, warm. It reminded me of Williston.”
Ms. Rockwell, who is considering majoring in education at Providence, has been a Williston tour guide and proctor. She was on the discipline committee for a year and has captained the cross-country and track teams. She also won the javelin event in New England her sophomore year and came in second in the 100-meter hurtles. In her junior year, she and Ms. Belinskas were named to the All New England Second Team in hockey.
With a family that included both a grandfather and uncle who had played competitively, Ms. Rockwell said that hockey had always felt like a legacy, especially since she began skating when she was three. Still, she mused that part of the intense unity between them was forged through playing “such a strange sport.”
“Hockey players are a different type of athlete—intense and so competitive all the time,” she said, adding with a laugh, “You have to be kind of crazy to sacrifice yourself on the ice.”