Passing the Torch

The following story on Harvard senior goaltender Laura Bellamy was written by John Gilger special to ECAC Hockey.

Not too long ago, Harvard netminder Laura Bellamy was a ripe freshman trying to make the adjustment student-athletes are forced to make at some point in their respective careers – high school to college.   After all, the environment is different; classes are harder; the competition is greater and then there is the social aspect of college. A vital key in her smooth transition came from then senior goalie Christina Kessler who had been through the same rigors herself of what it takes to be successful on and off the ice as a goalie at Harvard. 

Now, three years removed from her inaugural collegiate season and with the proverbial skate on the other foot, Bellamy is attempting to help pass the torch to the next up and coming goalie in Cambridge.

There is no doubt, goalies like to see action as much as they can to remain sharp and keep their heads in the game.  The 2011-2012 season didn’t disappoint as the Duluth, Minn., product served as the lone player between the pipes for the Crimson and was the lone netminder in the NCAA Division I ranks to play every single minute for her team with exception of the time she was pulled for the extra attacker.  This year, times have changed and she is sharing the duties protecting the crease with a talented newcomer, Emerance Maschmeyer.  Additionally, Bellamy has taken on the duties of mentoring two first-year goalies and is trying to help in the same way she was helped back in the 2009-2010 campaign.

“It’s pretty funny.  It definitely reminds me of the day I was a freshman and Christina Kessler was a senior,” said Bellamy, who is serving as a co-captain on this year’s team.  “I’ve taken a lot of what I learned from her {Christina} and tried to show both Emerance and Molly Tissenbaum that the harder we work in practice, the stronger we become as goalies and as a team.  I might be the senior of the group, but both Emerance and Molly have taught me a lot as well in the process.”
    
Heading into their month-long break, the Crimson are ranked fourth in the latest USCHO.com national poll and is off to a flying 9-1-1 start.  One of the big reasons for the strong start is the play of the goalie duo.  The combination of Bellamy and Maschmeyer boasts a 0.81 goals-against average and a .954 save percentage.  Bellamy is first in the country in goals-against average (0.67); second in save percentage (.964), and is tied for fifth with three shutouts, while Maschmeyer is not too far behind her nationally in goals-against average (0.98) and save percentage (.941).  With results like this, Bellamy is more than happy to share the crease.

“I’d love to be in there every minute, like last year,” said Bellamy.  “But, I have to be honest, I’m having more fun this year.  Competition means pressure; pressure makes success.  Having depth in goal is making our team better and stronger.”
    
Bellamy has made her mark in Cambridge on the ice without question.  In 86 games, she has tallied a combined record of 53-25-6; sports a career goals against average of 1.89 and a save percentage of .914.  Her 17 career shutouts ranks second all-time in Harvard history, eight behind Kessler for the top spot.  In addition, Bellamy has been a two-time ECAC Hockey goalie of the week recipient; was once the ECAC Hockey rookie of the month and as a freshman was named the winner of the Bertagna Award, which goes to the top goalie of the prestigious Beanpot Tournament.
    
Her solid body of work at Harvard isn’t just limited to the ice.  It is noticed in the classroom and is felt in the community as well.   A History and Science major (one major, not two), Bellamy was a finalist for the 2012 ECAC Hockey Student-Athlete of the Year award.   
    
“I brought a good foundation with me from high school,” said Bellamy.  “I seem to get more done on practice days; try to focus on my school work and class projects on those days; get them done and then have time to relax on our days that we don’t practice.”
    
When hockey is over, Bellamy plans to take off one or two years before entering medical school.  Her hopes include applying and being accepted into the Teach For America program, which the organization’s primary goal is to provide a solid education to youth in rural areas or inner city lower income communities.
    
As a senior at Duluth’s Denfeld High, Bellamy got a start on her community service aspect of her career by helping transition incoming freshmen into the school as a senior mentor.  This is something she has continued at Harvard as part of the Peer Advising Fellows program.  Bellamy has also worked on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee; has helped with the Cambridge After School Program, and volunteered over the summer at Essentia Health in the physical therapy department back in Minnesota.
    
“I started to develop the community service aspect back in high school,” said Bellamy.  “Since I helped with the transition of underclassmen to high school, I felt it was natural to continue that in college once I got into position to do it.  I also worked with the Cambridge After School Program and that had a tremendous effect on me.”
    
January is rather a straightforward month for the Harvard student-athlete.  Since classes don’t restart until January 28, there is a lot of free time outside of practice and competitions.   During this period, Bellamy is looking for community service opportunities in which the entire team can take ownership of.  With only practice and games on the schedule, she realizes there is time available to make a difference.

“Last year, we raised money for the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation through the Goals for Good campaign run by former Colgate Raider hockey player, Kevin McNamara,” said Bellamy.  “We are searching for a January community service project which is more event based that we can work together as a team on.”
    
With a busy calendar – school work, community service projects, figuring out the plan after graduation, and continuing to mentor the future netminders and students at Harvard, Bellamy still has her eyes set on the big prize, a trip to her home state and this year’s Frozen Four.  There wouldn’t be a better way to conclude her playing career than playing the trophy in her back yard, the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.”

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