by John D. Hubbard
"They send me out running, that's my job," says Alethea Bailey '96 of her work in the middle of the field during both the field hockey and lacrosse seasons.
Of course, as she runs there are additional responsibilities such as stopping attackers, mounting the attack herself and even scoring goals.
Midfielders, in both sports, are transition specialists, able to switch instantly from a checking mode to an all-out assault on the goal or, as Alethea puts it, "While I'm running I get to play offense and defense all over the field."
Bailey claims, fetchingly, that she is a two-sport midfielder because she can't make decisions. "I couldn't choose between offense and defense and I couldn't choose between field hockey and lacrosse, so I play everything, all over."
Blame it on track. Once Alethea discovered sports in junior high school the budding ballerina trad-ed her pointed slippers for cleats, especially since all her friends were playing field hockey. Next Bailey tried basketball ("I was terrible"), softball and soccer. Finally, there was track and she has been running ever since.
"My dad coached and he had
no mercy. I couldn't even think to complain -- I just ran." The early work paid
off. Alethea's preseason mile runs are the stuff of legend. "Al just whips off
the mile at a
5:20 clip," says coach Cathy Foto, "which is about 40 seconds faster than
Considered one of Colgate's best all-around athletes in terms of fitness, strength and endurance, Bailey has the ability to create drama on the playing field too. Last fall against Lehigh she "flew out of nowhere," according to Foto, to catch an attacker and take the ball off her stick. In the Rider game, a heroic contest which Colgate finally won on penalty strokes, Alethea, late in overtime, sprinted to the cage and dived in front of a shot to preserve the tie.
"The Rider game is a perfect representation of our team -- being so tired and working so hard with everyone being so supportive," says Bailey, who was one of eight seniors on that squad. "The field hockey players were the first people I met at Colgate. I just love them."
Teammates more than games have made the difference for Alethea, who won't allow herself to look back on her career now. She has yet to play for a Patriot League championship and she is driven to make good on her one last opportunity for a title.
"Definitely," says Alethea when asked if the lacrosse team is cap-able of
winning it all. |
"It has been fun to watch Alethea grow up as a leader. She was probably the quietest kid I've ever had," says Foto. Bailey is still quiet but she leads by example. "Alethea shows her determination through her play," says her coach. This spring, in lacrosse's first four games, Bailey, a tri-captain, scored six goals on just 13 shots and moved into a tenth place tie on Colgate's all-time scoring list. Personal statistics don't seem to mean much, however, and Alethea turns again to team. She lists "the running, the suffering, the icing in the training room" as all part of a bonding process. "I love sports. I think I'd go crazy if I didn't move. I've learned a lot of different things by playing and one is that it isn't the athletics that's the important thing." It is the people. "I'm going to be done playing soon, but I'm not going to be done with the friendships I've made.
"I can't be sad yet," says Alethea Bailey, who is still running strong. "I'll reflect after the season -- and it isn't going to wind down. This season will end with a bang."