Driving home after an outdoor field hockey training session in Pennsylvania, Kelsey Briddell was exhausted.
Her trek back to the 518 is long, but the 2014 Saratoga Springs graduate is used to it. With her body sore and her mind fried, she just wanted to relax.
Little did she know, excitement was waiting for her.
“I walked in the door of my friend’s house and she said ‘congrats,’” Briddell said.
Confused at first, her friend and fellow field hockey player continued.
“Oh, well we just got an email and we made the team.”
Emotions took over.
Shock, excitement, happiness, fulfillment and pride filled her.
It was time to call mom and dad.
Picking up the phone, she was thrilled to let the two people in her life that have stood by her since she can remember know she was the newest member of the 2019-20 United States Women’s National Indoor Team.
“They were so excited because they had just kept asking me and asking me when I was going to find out and all I could keep telling them was that I did not know,” Briddell said. “(USA Field Hockey) was not telling me anything.
“When my (field hockey) career ended at UAlbany, I would have never ever thought I was going to pursue anything with USA Field Hockey. When my last game ended, I was devastated. I realized I was not ready to be done playing.”
Since graduating from UAlbany in 2018, Briddell has more than kept field hockey as a constant, she’s made it her life.
Earning a spot on the U.S. Women’s National Indoor Team means she’ll start training with her new squad soon in preparation for the 2020 Pan American Games in March.
Winning the Pan American games would qualify Briddell and Team USA for the World Cup, pushing her a step closer to her ultimate goal of earning a gold medal playing the sport she loves.
“If you would’ve asked my high school self if I would be here today, I probably would’ve laughed,” Briddell said. “I would’ve been like, ‘Yeah, right.’”
None of this came easy for Briddell, but her hyper-focused work ethic, which she gets from her parents, as her father Bryan Briddell, owns Saratoga Peak Performance, has carried her to a new temporary peak.
She is always reaching for a new apex, testing her limits and fearless of failure.
It started at Saratoga High School, where she was all-state as a senior and a four-year letter winner, and a member of the U-16 National Indoor championship team with ADK Field Hockey.
At UAlbany, she shined and grinded while her admiration for the game grew.
In four years as a Great Dane, she totaled 59 career points on 15 goals and 20 assists and was named to the America East All-Tournament Team as a senior.
When it was time to walk away from the game, she couldn’t. As a human biology major with minors in neuroscience, psychology and art, she planned on applying to PA or nursing school, but her athletic drive told her mind to wait.
With her eligibility gone, she had nowhere to play, however. Then a friend of hers mentioned trying out for Team USA, and she thought, why not.
Betting on herself worked because she earned a spot on Team USA’s outdoor National Development Team, which allows her to practice with the Senior USA Women’s Outdoor team while still competing nationally as well.
For example, her development team just returned from a week in Holland, where Briddell battled against national teams from Scotland, Belgium and the Netherlands.
In June, she will find out if her coach thinks she is ready to move up from the development squad to the Senior Women’s Team.
Whatever the verdict, she isn’t going to stop.
With her spot on the indoor team secure regardless of what happens with her outdoor career, it is clear Briddell has a lot of field hockey left in her as the opportunity to represent her country looms.
Competitors like Briddell never stop reinventing themselves in their relentless race toward peak athletic performance and achievement.
“I just want to see how far I can go with it at this point,” Briddell said. “I have nothing to lose and now is the time in my life to chase after this dream that I realize I have. So with outdoor, I’d love to be named to the Senior Squad because then I’d have a chance to qualify for the Olympics and capture that Olympic dream.
“I am a perfectionist,” she added. “In my eyes, I can never reach that perfection however but I know I can keep improving in all these different areas. That means never being satisfied and always being hungry about wanting to learn and get better while maintaining my curiosity in all of it.”