Talk about learning on the job: South River senior Kelly Chapman - who was born in Alaska and has lived in Hawaii, Kansas and Korea among other places as part of a military family - had never even heard of field hockey until she moved to the area in the eighth grade. So after a two-year introduction on the junior varsity and then her junior season on varsity, Chapman is a team captain this fall and the only returning starter on defense. Chapman has enjoyed the challenge of leading the Seahawks to another promising season, but that's not all she does at South River. She maintains a 4.0 grade point average and is a National Honor Society member; runs indoor and outdoor track; and is a leader in two school clubs: Success Team and O Ambassadors. Chapman is hoping to receive an ROTC scholarship and has William & Mary and American University at the top of her college possibilities, with an interest in studying international diplomacy.
How has your role changed as a captain in your second year?
Last year, I was brand new to varsity and it was mostly just building up confidence in myself and learning to work with that new team. With [Metro Player of the Year] Hope [Battista] being so amazing and [goalie] Virginia [Jorden] being so good, and just having a strong team, they really helped build me up. This year, going into a leadership position and having no returning starters on defense, I just have to take what I learned from them and try to help out the new players.
What was it like watching the varsity team win a state title while you were a freshman on junior varsity?
It was mind blowing. After seeing the looks on their faces, I want that so bad. There's a photo of it in the hallway in one of our trophy cases, and they all look so excited. I am so jealous because they have these gleaming trophies. I want one!
How did you get started in field hockey?
I moved here from Korea, because my parents are in the military, and I never heard of field hockey before. My dad and I were in a Dunkin' Donuts one day and my dad saw a flier [for a field hockey clinic]. I was always a soccer girl, but all my new friends here played field hockey. I was new to the area and so nervous. Going into freshman year, he kind of forced me into doing this clinic and I didn't want to, but I ended up falling in love with the sport.
What are the positives of being in a military family?
It definitely made me a more outgoing person. It forced me to do some things outside of my comfort zone, like field hockey, to adapt to the new environment and it definitely gave me my love for international travel. After living overseas, I knew I never wanted to have a job that wouldn't allow me to have international experience.
Before moving here, you spent the previous four years in Korea. What was that like?
It was the single best experience of my life, just being with all different people. In the military environment, there aren't really any social or economic differences in class. Everybody gets the same pay, the same housing. Say your neighbor drives a Mercedes. It doesn't mean he has any more money than you; it's just how he chose to spend his money. So no one really focuses on that. They focused on your character, the way you are. We also had a chance to explore this entirely new culture, which was amazing.
What was the best part of living in Korea?
Having such easy access to other countries. Every break, if we had a three-day weekend like over Labor Day or something, my family would go: "Hey, let's go to China!" and we'd go see the Great Wall for three days. It was an hour flight away.
What's it like being a senior?
It's definitely different. People look up to you, and I really like that. Also, there's a lot more pressure from your teachers because they expect you to set the good example. If you come in late, they definitely crack down on you.
What is the Success Team?
We used to have some racial problems here, so a couple years ago some teachers and students got together and decided that they were going to educate our school on how that doesn't matter and we should look at people on the inside and not the outside. It started small, like facts over announcements, and slowly built into this thing where we try to educate everybody about other cultures beyond just the American culture. ... at the end of the year we have a big multicultural affair during school. It's been pretty successful and really grown.
What is O Ambassadors all about?
It's part of Oprah's Angel Network. We fund raise for an impoverished portion of the world, and this year we're focusing on Latin America. We fund raise and educate all year and then we take all the money and put it toward a cause in that region, like building a well so they have water or providing vaccines or building a school. This is the first year we've done it [at South River], so we're like the founders. Hopefully, it will be really rewarding.
What is your favorite TV show?
The Office. It's hilarious, and they don't even look like they are actors. They look like they're just real people and they find themselves in some of the most ridiculous situations.