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Kacey Bellamy's Keys to Development

By Jamie MacDonald, Special to Mass Hockey, 10/19/17, 10:30AM EDT


No matter where hockey has taken two-time Olympian Kacey Bellamy over the past decade – and it’s taken her an awful lot of places – home is always Westfield, Mass. 

No matter where hockey has taken two-time Olympian Kacey Bellamy over the past decade – and it’s taken her an awful lot of places – home is always Westfield, Mass. 

Westfield is where Bellamy grew up playing roller hockey with her siblings. It’s where she skated with them on the pond. And that’s where the memories of developing her skills take her when she’s thinking about playing on her family’s backyard rink west of Springfield. 

“I was actually thinking about this the other day,” she said after coming off a recent trip home from her Team USA residency in Tampa, Fla. “I would say right around the age of 6, or 7 or 8, going out in the pond in the winter or the backyard rink when I was in sixth or seventh grade, getting out there before and after school with my siblings and my neighbors. That's when I truly fell in love with the game. Such a great childhood memory.”

Always Wanting to be Better

Westfield is where the now 30-year-old Bellamy fell in love with the game, but it is her work ethic that has taken her across the country and around the world.

“I would say prep school is where it started, when I was around 15 or 16,” she says of her days at the Berkshire School, which were elegantly referenced in her popular post for The Players’ Tribune in July 2016. “I didn't understand if I was really good at hockey or if I just really enjoyed it. But I was getting closer to college and realized I was getting attention from D-I colleges. Work ethic and working toward something was a big thing for me at Berkshire. I always told myself I wanted to be the best at whatever I was doing. And, if I wasn't, I made sure I was going to work hard to get there.”

In many ways, work ethic is as much a talent as shooting and skating and passing. For Bellamy, that work ethic has continued to fuel every effort of developing her game, too.

“My motto on the ice is I try to go into every game like I'm the best,” she says. “But I practice like I'm No. 2. Because I always wanting to be better.”

Gritty Game

In her own mind, though she has put up points and scored two goals in Team USA’s most recent Women’s World Championship win over Canada this past April, Bellamy is more of a grinder.

“I would like to say I'm pretty gritty,” she says. “I think of myself more as a passer, too. I grew up playing a forward role, but I always wanted to be the last person back. I never wanted to get scored on.”

The effort hasn’t been lost on her teammates, either. When asked who the toughest player to play against, captain Meghan Duggan, a Danvers, Mass. native, spoke volumes: “I’d say Kacey Bellamy. She’s just so solid, so physical and has a great stick.”

“I think that working hard and having a good attitude,” says Bellamy, “those are two things you can control in any situation.”

Battling Adversity

That doesn’t mean the road has always been easy, either.

“I've had a few years where maybe I wasn't playing as much as other players and I wasn't sure of my ability,” Bellamy says. “I lost a little bit of confidence there around the last Olympics. But I think I worked a lot on my mental training and honed in on what I knew I needed to work on. For me, the biggest thing was mental. Physically, I know I have the skills. If I just kept working hard at them, they were going to improve.”

Developing her game and tying to improve is a way of life – whether that’s her first pass out of the defensive zone or shooting at the other end. Constantly.

“I'm here in Tampa, and I pick out little things that I know I need to work on,” she says. “I'm always, always working on my shooting because I know I don't have the hardest shot. But, if I can work on the quick release or getting it and putting it into areas, it works just as well as having the hardest shot on the team. I work on tiny little things here and there – like the precision of my passing. Or the quickness of getting a pass off. And not holding on to it too much. I'm always tweaking my game and I think it's important at the highest level. If you're not trying to get better or make your teammates better, what are we doing this for?

Bellamy’s Biggest Hockey Tip

“Well, I think when you're growing up you can always work on your speed,” she says. “I think over the last six or seven years I've always tried to do extra sprints or extra conditioning because I think at this level speed is the most important thing. Once you get to that age and you maybe don't think you're going to get any faster, it comes to the off-ice training. For me, the off-ice training and off-ice and lifting has helped me tremendously to get to where I am today. I was able to beat someone to the puck, or, when I had the puck, beat them to the middle of the ice.”  

Bellamy’s Biggest Life Tip

“Do what you love, no matter what that is,” she says. “Do it to the fullest. If you do love it and have a dream, go for it. You were obviously put here for a reason, and, you’re passionate about it, go and in life go for it.”

Staying in the Present, Preparing for PyeongChang

Next up for Duggan, Bellamy and Team USA, which will continue to train in Tampa through the naming of the Olympic team, is looking ahead to 2018. In Sochi, Team USA lost a heartbreaking overtime game to rival Canada and would earn silver in the process.

“This year, and the last three years, we just focus on getting better,” Bellamy says. “We try to put that game behind us. For me, it was such a bittersweet game because it was an amazing women's hockey game. As hard as it was to lose that game, it was still beneficial to our game and we learned so much. Where we are today is incredible and we're just trying to look forward. We don't even look to a week or two from now. Everything that we do, we stay in the present. We’re excited for it. I love this year. This is the best year of our lives. We're living together for six months and training and getting better and bonding, and I don't want it to go anywhere. I kind of want time to stand still. But, at the same time, all the work you put forth, you want to showcase it.”

No matter the outcome, Bellamy will look forward to enjoying the ride.

“It would be my third Olympics, and the team isn't picked yet, but, hopefully in January, it will all work itself out,” she says. “I just look at it as a complete honor, especially with everything going on in the world. I take a lot of time and think about how special the Olympics are. It's an amazing thing to be a part of. To be able to do it with my teammates and some of my best friends, it's hard to explain. It's just wonderful.”

Should Team USA return with another medal, there’s a good bet one of the first things Bellamy would be thinking about is taking it home to Westfield.