Stump was part of two Big Ten titles
Kelley Stump had plenty of success on the Parkland field hockey team just a few years ago. During her time there, the Trojans finished as league and district runner-up when she was a sophomore; that team also advanced to the PIAA semifinals. But a championship eluded her during her high school years.
Stump, a senior forward at Northwestern University, can now call herself a champion. After the Wildcats won the Big Ten Conference regular season title in 2013, her sophomore season, Northwestern won the Big Ten Tournament championship last fall. It was the school’s first tournament title in team history.
“When I came here, Northwestern had a lot of promise, and I really believed in [head coach] Tracey [Fuchs],” Stump said. “Last year it was really exciting to see it all come together. Everything she told me when I was being recruited came true.
“My teammates and I were really her first big recruiting class. To have trained together for three years and then finally win the title for our coach was really exciting.”
Northwestern downed Maryland twice a year ago, the second coming in that Big Ten title game when the Terrapins were ranked No. 2. The Wildcats also overcome early deficits against Iowa and Michigan in the first two rounds to advance to the championship.
After being eliminated in the first round in Stump’s first two years, Northwestern turned that trend around in 2014.
“My first two years we had lost in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament every time,” Stump said. “It was really important to us to push through the first game because we had never made it any farther than that. We were really committed to the process and to our game plan.
“I always thought that we would be good when I came here, but I never thought I would have two Big 10 championship rings, and maybe a third.”
After a historic season in 2014, Northwestern is enjoying a quick start in Stump’s final year. The Wildcats are 7-3 overall (0-1 in the Big Ten), and Stump has scored two goals so far. Both came against Ball State back on September 8, one of which was a game-winner.
“We had been on the road for awhile by the time we finally got to Ball State,” Stump said. “We had played Duke and Boston College over the weekend, and then we traveled straight from Lancaster to Indiana to play them, so we were pretty tired. The game wasn’t going so great for us; we were tied 1-1 at halftime. I was really happy to have the two goals in the second half to help us pull out the win.”
The Wildcats have high expectations once again, and they understand fully that a third Big Ten ring in as many seasons for this group is certainly possible. They’re also aware of how competitive the Big Ten is from top to bottom.
“As far as the Big 10 goes, I think we’re projected to do pretty well,” Stump said. “But the Big 10 is one of those conferences where I feel like it can go any which way once we get started.”
Stump won’t be far from home when Northwestern travels to face Rutgers on Friday, their second conference game of the season.