During her playing days with the Princeton University women’s hockey team, Liz Keady gave her heart and soul to the program.
Statistically, the Braintree, Mass. native showed her passion for the game by tallying 79 points on 38 goals and 41 assists in 118 games in her career that ran from 2003-8 with one year away (2005-06) to compete with the U.S. national team.
Keady’s production helped her earn second-team All-Ivy League and honorable mention all-ECAC honors. She was a co-recipient of the team’s Elizabeth English Trophy as Most Valuable Player and the team’s Most Improved Player Award for the 2004-05 season. Keady won the 2008 Sarah Devens Award, a joint award between the ECACH and Hockey East for a player who demonstrates leadership and commitment both on and off the ice.
But beyond the points and accolades, the most graphic demonstration of Keady’s devotion to hockey and the Tigers came when she kept playing in an ECACH playoff game against Yale in 2005 after skating hard into an open door in the bench area and suffering what turned out to be a cracked rib, ruptured spleen, and collapsed lung.
After college, Keady stayed in the game, taking part in the Pre-Olympic residency Program from 2008-10 in Minnesota. When her playing career ended, Keady became the general manager and director of hockey training at the Institute of Performance and Fitness (IPF) in Andover, Mass.
Soon, Keady was back on the ice, coaching at the North Shore Vipers club and then taking the helm of the Andover High girls’ hockey program.
Now, Keady has returned to the world of college hockey, having been recently hired as an assistant coach for the Union College women’s program.
For Keady, taking the job at Union gave her the vehicle to best express her devotion to the game.
“Jeff and Amy (Princeton head coach Jeff Kampersal and Brown head coach and former Tiger assistant Amy Bourbeau) brought it to my attention, they knew I wanted to make the jump,” said Keady.
“I wanted to work with more elite, more dedicated players. I loved the kids I worked with but I wanted to work with players who are 100 percent dedicated to the sport.”
Keady is looking to make an impact beyond helping Union do well. “It is something I have always wanted to do,” said Keady. “I have had a lot of great coaches but not a lot of great female coaches and I think that is something the sport needs.”
In working her way up the coaching ladder, Keady sees her time at IPF as a valuable starting point.
“I worked and ran a structured fitness program, working with athletes everyday,” said Keady.
“I loved that, there were a lot of group sessions so that helped with the transition to coaching.”
Taking the post with the Vipers gave Keady the chance to deal with a variety of situations on the ice. “It is one of the up and coming club programs,” said Keady.
“I did skills for all of the groups. I coached the U-19 and U-12 teams. The U-19 group was half season that started once the high school season was over. The U-12 team was a bunch of crazy 11-year-olds. It was completely different, even within team, it is different. I had to communicate six different ways.”
Moving on to Andover forced Keady to develop a wider coaching perspective. “I had a range of players; I had to work on different things with different kids,” said Keady, who also coached lacrosse at the school.
“It depends on how committed they are, some dream of playing D-1 hockey and others see hockey as a hobby. The high school girls are a unique breed. In terms of coaching, it was the first time I had to look at the whole season and think about short term and long term. You might sacrifice a win early in the beginning of the season to be better at the end.”
While the competitive Keady wanted to get wins, she was also looking to instill some deeper principles in her players.
“I would like to think, regardless of talent, we will outwork anyone and be tougher than anyone,” said Keady.
“It is a good goal for the team and it is a good goal for life, to never stop trying and try to get a little better every day.”
That mindset reflects qualities that Keady displayed during her Princeton career, according to head coach Kampersal.
“Lizzie has a tremendous work ethic, she is good at developing players and she will inspire them,” said Kampersal.
“I told the coaches at Union that she is someone who will work hard and is loyal. She gives her heart and soul to everything she does, as a player she was the same way.”
In Kampersal’s view, Keady is a natural at coaching. “She has so much passion for the sport,” asserted Kampersal. “She was always a kid who would give back. She ran a couple of summer programs for us as part of the Princeton camps. She worked as a counselor and related well to the kids.”
Keady, for her part, is ready to give her all for the Union program. “I will help with pretty much anything they need,” said Keady.
“I will do extra skills work and conditioning. I worked six years with IPF so I would like to think I know something about conditioning; I will work with the strength coach. I think the biggest challenge has been recruiting. I found so far that I really like it. I like being able to offer a player this kind of opportunity. It also helps that I believe in the school and the program.”