By Kevin Kline
WINCHESTER, Va. - Freshman field hockey player Kelani Bailey not only excels on the hockey field but also on the racquetball court. Aside from being a Hornet starter at forward, Bailey is a top ranked racquetball player in the world for the United States National Team.
Bailey has been playing racquetball ever since she was a child following her parents' success in the sport. Her mother was a 29-time national champion as a former U.S. team member and her father was also a national champion.
As the Hornets starting forward, Bailey has started in every game she has played. She has scored twice for the 5-5 Hornets while also adding three assists. Moving from an individual competitive sport to a team sport was challenging for Bailey but she seems to be up for the challenge.
"I love the competition in both sports, they compliment each other well," Bailey said. "Racquetball and field hockey both use the same footwork and training as far as strengthening muscle groups. The switch between team and individual sports can be challenging, but the goals are the same, to compete and succeed."
Bailey didn't start playing field hockey until her junior year of high school. Only two years of high school experience and she managed to play at the Division III level.
When asked why Shenandoah field hockey, Bailey responded, "I loved playing field hockey; it was something completely new and challenging for me but I didn't want to play my senior year and just be done with it. I came to SU because I wanted to continue playing without the pressures Division I schools put in place and also study Athletic Training."
With her first collegiate field hockey season underway, Racquetball World Championships rapidly approaching along with majoring in Athletic Training – Bailey is pressed for time, "It is difficult to balance all three, I have to make time. Our field hockey practices are usually early in the morning before class, and then when I have time between classes during the day I go and practice racquetball with some friends or players at the Stonebrook Athletic Club. I am always on the go, but if I am not busy doing something constructive, I feel like time is being wasted."
During her racquetball career, Bailey has won two Gold medals at the USAR National Junior Olympic Championships. She also won a Bronze medal in mixed doubles. Bailey has been on the U.S. Junior National Team every year since she was 15 but actually won her first national title in the Girl's 12 & under singles.
As a part of the Junior United States National Team, Bailey is headed for the 2012 IRF World Junior Championships, which is held November 11-17, 2012. The Junior Team will look to defend their title against top junior players from all over the world. The Spectrum Club in Canoga Park, California is the host of this prestigious event and Bailey is the midst of fundraising for this trip.
"I look forward to competing with the best junior players in the world and hopefully coming out on top. Over the past years, I have met so many great kids from all around the world. I love to travel and visiting new places excites me. Winning, of course, is my main goal going to the World Championships."
Bailey intends to play in both singles and doubles contest in hopes of bringing home two gold medals and an overall team gold for the United States.
If you'd like to know more about Kelani and her United States Junior National team, visit http://www.usra.org/.