Tops in Her Fields: Maddie Mullaney off to Harvard to Continue Her Academic and Athletic Excellence

They are one of Chelsea’s greatest and most respected families. Frank and Eileen Mullaney raised five beautiful, generous, talented, warm, and personable children at their home on Cary Avenue.

The academic and athletic achievements were many, especially on the local athletic fields from the Chelsea Youth Basketball League and the Chelsea Youth Baseball League through their high school and college years.

Pingree School senior Maddie Mullaney, one of the best field hockey players in the nation, will be continuing her career at Harvard next fall.

Michael, Maureen, Joseph, Timothy, and Robert Mullaney were the kids you wanted for your friend and teammate. Joseph returned to the city and became the principal of Chelsea High School. Maureen Mullaney was captain of the Chelsea High School cheerleading squad on her way to becoming a nurse.

Robert “Bobby” Mullaney took the local sports community by storm early on in the Chelsea Youth Basketball League as a unanimous MVP and the league’s undisputed top playmaker. He was totally unselfish on the court and a fierce competitor. He went on to excel at Savio and continued his stellar athletic career in the baseball program at Babson College, one of the nation’s finest schools in the field of business. And Robert Mullaney has achieved tremendous success in the business world.

 Maddie Mullaney, the daughter of Robert and Sara Mullaney, is carrying on the Mullaney tradition of excellence in the classroom and in the sports arena.

Ranked as one of the best high school field hockey players in the United States, Maddie, a 17-year-old senior at the Pingree School, was poised to lead her team to incredible heights this fall but the season was canceled due to COVID-19.

Maddie Mullaney’s past achievements as a two-time All-New England player placed her on the radar of Division 1 college programs. She is an excellent student, earning Honor Roll and Head of School List recognition throughout her years at Pingree.

This month, Maddie Mullaney made known her college destination, signing her letter of intent to attend Harvard College in Cambridge. She will be continuing her majestic career in the Crimson’s Division 1  field hockey program that competes in the Ivy League.

Pingree head field hockey coach Jen Richardson said, “I met Maddie when she was in third or fourth grade. We had started this youth program. Of course, I got the job at Pingree the year before she had applied. So my first call at Pingree was to Maddie, ‘Come play field hockey at Pingree, please.”

Maddie Mullaney became a four-year standout at Pingree, an unstoppable force.

“Her story is amazing,” said Richardson. “She’s fantastic to watch, fun to coach. She has everything you want in an athlete. She’s gritty. She’s hard-working. She’s dedicated. She’ll spend her weekends working out or studying. She’s always asking how she can get better. She spent tons of time outside of the high school arena doing everything she could – tournaments, clinics, camps – she put in the work and she’s being rewarded for that in such a beautiful way.”

Richardson said the Pingree team had a superb senior class, led by Maddie Mullaney the coach’s daughter, Alana Richardson, and other exceptional athletes. “We had these great seniors, but we have these underclassmen who are phenomenal.”

One of those ‘phenomenal underclassmen” is Maddie’s sister, Pingree sophomore Grace Mullaney. “Grace is another up-and-coming awesome player that hopefully I’ll get two more years to coach,” said Jen Richardson.

Richardson predicts a great career ahead for Maddie Mullaney at Harvard.

“I’m so excited that Maddie is heading to Harvard,” said Richardson.”She doesn’t plateau. She just gets better and better. So I think her trajectory is just to set her up to be an absolute standout at Harvard.”

The Chelsea Record interviewed the Harvard College-bound field hockey superstar and following are Maddie Mullaney’s responses to our questions:

At what age did you begin playing field hockey? Did you participate in other youth sports in your hometown?

• I started playing field hockey when I was in the third grade at Masco Youth Field Hockey, which my parents helped to run and organize. I also played tennis year-round, swim year-round, (Boxford Athletic Association) soccer, and tribal lacrosse.

When were you first recognized for your exceptional playing skills in the sport? Was there a particular coach that was instrumental in your development as a player?

• I started playing club field hockey when I was fifth grade (10 yrs old) for Danvers Indoor Sports. I was on a U14 (primarily made up of 13 and 14 year olds) team where I was coached by Leah Boody-Simpson and Jen Richardson, who are still my coaches to this day. Both Jen and Leah have been an instrumental part of my development as a player and character. They have taught and fostered my love for the game.

What do you enjoy about field hockey?

• I enjoy field hockey because it feeds my competitive drive, and I get to be apart of a sisterhood.

Competing in various All-Star games and national tournaments, have you established friendships (outside of Pingree) through field hockey?

• Yes, through Club and USA field hockey, I have created many friendships. One that comes to mind, while on a U14 USA field hockey Futures Team, Meghan Joel (a future Harvard teammate), Sam Crochetiere (a current club teammate and  future BC commit), and I brought home a Gold Medal.

How do you manage your time being an elite player, a student-athlete and maintaining high grades academically?

• Balancing time has taken discipline, planning ahead, and taking care of my health.

Do you participate in other extracurricular activities at Pingree?

A.Peer Tutor

B.Peer Advisor

C.Tour Guide

D.Special Olympics Volunteer

E.Varsity Tennis

F.Yoga

G.Community Service: Seacoast United FH Volunteer Coach

H.Shore Country Day School Camp Counselor

I.Scuba Diving: Turks & Caicos, Cayman Islands

J.Road Races: Falmouth Road Race (MA), Trot for Hunger (Washington DC), Jennifer Tinney July 4th Road Race (medaled)

This year’s Pingree team had sky-high expectations. When did you learn that the season was going to be canceled due to the coronavirus and what was your reaction? How often has Pingree been practicing as a team? What was it like to finally take the field against an opponent and score three goals in that game?

•Our first and last game was against rival Winsor school of Boston where we won 5-0. We had a lot of energy for our first and only game of the season as we were eager to get out and play. It was an emotional game for me, knowing that it was the last time playing with Pingree FH and my young sister, Grace. 

Do you consider yourself a role model for the underclassmen on the team? What was it like having your sister as a teammate at Pingree? Have you and Grace been teammates in other venues?

• I do consider myself a role model, and I lead by example with grit and determination. I have had the privilege to play with my younger sister, Grace, which brought aspects of sister competitiveness and special connections on the field. Grace is a trustworthy and reliable player in the backfield. We have played on a few teams together before, but one in particular was on a Seacoast United Club FH U14 team (where Grace was playing up an age level) and we placed 4th in the country at the National Club Championships.

When did you begin considering the prospect of playing in a Division 1 college program? Did you visit other schools besides Harvard? What were the factors in your decision to attend Harvard? 

• I have always known I wanted to play Division 1, and I was fortunate enough to visit a lot of campuses at a young age, starting in eighth grade. I knew I wanted Division 1, strong academics, and wanted to stay in Boston. We are really lucky to have such strong academic and athletic local schools. Harvard stood out to me because I have always valued being a student first, and then an athlete.

What do you want to say about the support and encouragement of your parents and family during your athletic career and this journey that will take you to the world’s most prestigious university next year?

• My family has been nothing but supportive along my academic and field hockey journey. From traveling over Thanksgiving for field hockey tournaments to providing a private school education throughout middle and high school, I will be forever grateful for my parents encouragement.

Has your father told you stories about his athletic excellence and growing up in Chelsea?

 • Oh, yes! I definitely take after my dad’s competitiveness and love for athletics!

What will be you doing training wise and competitively in the spring and summer to get ready for your first collegiate field hockey season? Have you met any of your Harvard teammates?

• I hope to continue training with USA field hockey this spring and summer. I will continue with club field hockey through June and then I hope to have a workout plan from Harvard! Some of my future teammates and I are in touch and I can’t wait for next fall! 

Thank you, Maddie.

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