Hannah Kenney plays hockey and basketball for St. Dominic’s Academy. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

A typical day for Hannah Kenney is anything but typical for a high school athlete.

Once the school bell rings to end the day, Kenney, a sophomore at St. Dominic Academy, has to quickly remember if she should lace up her basketball shoes or her hockey skates. There’s no time to waste figuring out which is the correct choice.

It’s a balancing act that St. Dom’s athletic director J.P. Yorkey calls “unique.”

“It’s very uncommon to have kids play two sports in one season, to the point where I would say most people out there don’t know if it’s possible. Including some athletic directors, they don’t know it’s possible. They really haven’t seen it done,” Yorkey said. “But when it does happen, it’s usually like a team sport and an individual sport.”

Kenney, however, splits her time between the Saints’ girls’ basketball and girls’ hockey teams, not to mention keeping up with her school work.

“I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to fit everything in, but the coaches allowed me to work around the two sports and two practice times, and sometimes two games a day,” Kenney said.

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She grew up playing both sports, but figured once she got to St. Dom’s she would have to stick to basketball. Then last year, as a freshman, girls’ hockey coach Paul Gosselin came calling.

“I think that she had had some experience playing when she was younger, so I was open to the idea,” Gosselin said. “Especially with a smaller bench, if we can get some added assistance it really helps us out. Allows us to recoup, and gives more playing time. So I was really open to that suggestion.”

Last season’s girls’ basketball coach Chris Marston was also open to the plan, but Yorkey said Marston’s stipulation was that Kenney had to choose basketball if the two sports conflicted on any given day. That was fine for Kenney, who called basketball the priority, and Gosselin, who was happy to have another skater for his small team.

Kenney made it into eight games for the girls’ hockey team last year as a defender, and tallied a goal and an assist for a Saints team that lost in the regional semifinals.

On the basketball court, Marston’s Saints made it to the regional quarterfinals after winning a prelim on the road.

“When I first thought about it, when the hockey coaches first approached me, I was like, ‘I have no idea how I’m going to be able to fit all of this in.’ But after we got through it, it wasn’t actually as hard as I thought it would be,” Kenney said.

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Still, going into her sophomore winter sports season, Kenney made the decision to focus solely on basketball, not wanting the load of athletics and increased academics to become too much.

“And then around Christmas time or so, things lightened up for her a little bit between semesters, and (the hockey team) could use her help,” said Yorkey, who took over the girls’ basketball program this season.

“I definitely missed the team, and all of the girls were begging me to come back, and I missed playing the sport in general,” Kenney said.

It took Kenney about a week or so to get back into hockey shape, she estimated.

“As far as Paul and I, we just talked about getting her enough time on the ice so that she was ready to play,” Yorkey said. “And so we were able to work that out, to get her ready before she went and played her first hockey game.”

Basketball is still the priority, even with Yorkey at the helm. Kenney plays point guard for the Saints (averaging 5.0 points per game and 4.9 assists, while being given a top defensive assignment), which means Yorkey needs her to be involved with day-before-game preparation.

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Gosselin still gets enough of Kenney, who along with the return this season of senior Bugsy Hammerton has given the Saints a late-season lift to the regional final. Now playing forward, Kenney has three assists in seven hockey games so far.

“I think she’s had good improvement. Her skating has definitely improved. Obviously, the more practice time the better that’s going to happen. As she’s been going to practice and her skating’s improved, and her stick-handling’s improved,” Gosselin said. “I think her competitiveness is the same. She’s a competitive athlete, and has to be just to be able to want to play two sports.”

Kenney got a taste of two sports in on a Saturday earlier this season when St. Dom’s had a basketball game in the early afternoon and a hockey game that evening down the road from campus.

“It’s not too bad,” Kenney said. “Although, when I wake up in the morning, I’m like, ‘I’m going to be dead tonight.’ But then by the time hockey’s over I’m like, ‘It’s still pretty fun,’ because it’s been a fun day with both teams.”

Kenney won’t have that issue again this season. The girls’ basketball team opened its playoffs Tuesday with a 64-28 prelim win over Buckfield (Kenney scored four points), and won’t play again until next Tuesday. The girls’ hockey team plays in the regional final against Lewiston on Thursday, and if the Saints win that they will finish up their season in the state championship on Saturday.

Kenney said more and more people around the school are finding out about her two-sport schedule, and some are saying, “Oh, you’re the girl who plays two sports.”

She said, “I guess it’s a good feeling to know that I’m being talked about,” and she hopes to do it again next year.

wkramlich@sunjournal.com

Saint Dominic Academy’s Hannah Kenney , right, makes a pass while being pressured by Red Hornet’s Isabel Berube during the first period of Saturday night’s hockey game in Auburn. (Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillilngham)

 


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