It goes without saying that being named as a captain of an athletic team is an honor. Recently that honor was bestowed on two former La Jolla High graduates — Nihal Kayali and Maddy Sharp — on two separate squads at Yale University.
Kayali and Sharp might not be on the same team, but the two juniors will captain their respective clubs next season for the Ivy League school’s field hockey and cross country teams, respectively.
“I’m honored my teammates have that much faith in me,” said Sharp, a 2009 graduate of LJHS who majors in environmental studies. “Obviously we’re coming off an incredible year. I hope that we are Ivy champions again next year, and we make the NCAA Tournament.”
Sharp was a key part of Yale’s field hockey team that won the league title this past season, a year in which the Bulldogs set team records in goals, assists and points.
“We trained very hard last spring and through the summer,” Sharp said. “Every single person was committed to our team goals, which were to win the Ivy League and make the NCAA Tournament. Every single person really put that extra effort in, and it paid off. And the team chemistry was great. We had a really cohesive team.”
Sharp had a career-high 10 points in 2011 while starting all 17 games for the first time in her career. She has played 50 games in her career, totaling nine goals and six assists.
As for Kayali, she was elected captain of the cross country team.
Kayali had a breakout season in cross country this year, progressing through the ranks of the Bulldogs to become the team’s third scorer at the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships, where Yale was fourth, and the NCAA Regional meet, where the team took sixth.
Those finishes were the team’s best since 2006 and 2005, respectively.
The Bulldogs will not graduate any of their scorers from this season and Kayali will look to lead the team to even greater successes during the 2012 campaign.
Kayali is also a 2009 graduate of the La Jolla High School where she is the record holder of the 1,600 and 3,200 She was named the Hall of Champions student-athlete of the year as well.
“I’m deeply honored to have been elected captain by my teammates, for whom I have such respect and admiration.
“It’s incredibly validating that these feelings are apparently mutual. Being a member of the Yale cross country team has fundamentally shaped my Yale experience and I can’t wait to help lead the team next fall,” she said.