Oct. 18, 2013
By Jeremy Crawford, Michigan State Athletic Communications Student Assistant
There are many sounds you would expect to hear during the course of a Spartan woman's field hockey contest - coaches yelling out assignments, the clack when sticks collide and the crowd's approval when pinpoint passing enables a goal. However, if you listen closely enough at Ralph Young Field, you are bound to hear something not normally expected in the midst of a serious competition - laughter. The future Spartans playing behind the bleachers are not the source of this joyful noise. Instead, it emanates from Michigan State's fifth-year goal keeper, Molly Cassidy. The unorthodox goal keeper uses her unique mindset and play between the pipes to calm both herself and her teammates while frustrating her opponents.
"I think part of the reason why I laugh is I want everyone else who is around me to know that it's okay." said Cassidy. "It's okay that we just had a corner called against us ... there could be worse things. I think it's good when you can find things to laugh about. It just makes everything so much better!"
Over the years there has been a lot of laughing going on as Cassidy has climbed the record books at Michigan State, earned the distinction of being one of the greatest goal keepers in school history.
Her steady flow of laughter through good moments not only confuses Michigan State's opponents, but can also sometimes confuse even some of her own teammates. One day at practice, Cassidy was warming up in the cage and thought it would be fun to be a ballerina. She soon learned that goal keepers should stick in the net as she dislocated her kneecap and started to roll on the ground both laughing and crying. It took her teammates several moments to realize she was injured.
The position of goaltender is a challenging one and always receives a great deal of attention, both good and bad from those who follow the sport. Whether she is riding a winning streak or coming off a disheartening loss, Cassidy approaches each game with a positive mindset and a smile on her face.
"Just going into each and every game saying you know what this could be the best game of my life or I could get injured and I could be done." said Cassidy. "So just living in the moment each game is probably my greatest accomplishment, because it keeps me happy and it keeps everyone else happy."
While laughter may keep her balanced, hard work and dedication to her craft have made her the standout goalie she is today. Cassidy also applies that same drive and effort in the classroom as she earned Academic All-Big Ten three times in her Spartan career working towards her journalism degree.
Those around the program have nothing but great things to say about the red shirt senior goal keeper.
"The thing that stands out about her the most and the greatest contribution she has made, is how she represents Michigan State," said Assistant coach Molly Maloney. She recently spoke at a donor luncheon and handled herself with pride and class. She is very special that way ... to have a kid like that represent herself, her family, and the program with such high quality of character is unmatched."
Whether it is being a standout in the classroom or climbing up the record books at Michigan State, Cassidy acknowledges she could not have accomplished all she has without the help of others. She attributes a large part of her success at Michigan State to Maloney saying,
"I think that I came in physically ready to me molded into the goal keeper she wanted, but without her mental training I would have gotten nowhere here," said Cassidy.
This is not to say that the relationship between student and coach has not had its share of ups and downs over their five years together. However, both have said they made each other better. Maloney shared this sentiment,
"We have had our challenges back and forth," said Maloney "But we sharpened one another. That is the best thing you can ask another person. Is that they have made you a better person; they have made you better at what you do every day. I am honored and am thankful that I have had that impact on her. She will forever be known as one of my favorites and most challenging goal keepers."
At some point this season, there will be a final whistle which will mark the end of Cassidy's remarkable tenure in the cage for Michigan State. While the outcome of that match cannot be predicted, it is probably safe to say that the whistle will be followed by a burst of joyful laughter.