Indian Creek senior Kendyl Underwood faced a double challenge when looking for a college.
She wanted to study nursing, which is known to be a demanding major. Many schools don’t permit Division I student-athletes to choose a rigorous major, especially if it requires a lot of out-of-classroom time.
On top of that, many field hockey programs don’t bring in goalies every year. “It’s hard being a goalkeeper because it’s such a specialized position that schools take a goalie every two or three years so the team is not stacked with them,” Underwood says. “I got turned down by so many schools.” Underwood found one after an exhausting search: Saint Louis University. And she will be playing there on an athletic scholarship.
“The coach (Danielle Baumgardner) assured me [that] they care for their athletes and the academic side,” she says. “They will help me with that process, so I can do nursing.”
The 17-year-old Underwood decided to pursue nursing after volunteering as a student athletic trainer. The job requires her to attend basketball practices daily and a couple of home games a week during the winter. The spring sports schedule is more of a grind.
“I just found a passion for helping people when they are (injured),” she says St. Louis is getting a well-rounded student. Underwood carries a 4.1 weighted GPA, takes four advanced placement courses, tutored underserved middle and elementary school students, and served as president of Indian Creek’s National Art Honor Society.
She also participated in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland’s leadership conference, competed on her school’s equestrian team, and is a member of the Spanish National Honor Society
“She does a little bit of everything and does it very well,” Indian Creek Athletic Director Tyler Larkin says. “She may not be valedictorian, but she will be top 10 in her class. In the winter, she goes from school to basketball practice to club field hockey. She probably doesn’t go home until 9:30 p.m.” Underwood excelled in equestrian, competing for five years in middle school and high school.
“I have won tons of ribbons in various shows, but I stopped that this year to focus on field hockey,” Underwood explains. And what a field hockey career she’s had. The four-year starter earned IAAM B All-Conference honors during her first three years on varsity. The 5-foot-7 Underwood plays with a lot of grit and communicates well with her teammates. She’s a two-year co-captain. Her top high school performances came last year against Mount de Sales (11 saves) and in 2017 versus Maryvale (19 saves).
“She has everything you want in a goalie,” Indian Creek Assistant Field Hockey Coach Taylor Dalisera says. “She brings a lot of energy to the team and is constantly diving for balls. She works very hard and is amazingly driven and dedicated to her team.” Field hockey keeps Underwood busy. She plays the sport 11 months of the year and has also developed her skills competing for the Gambrills-based SPark Field Hockey Club since 2010.
She’s been to the national indoor tournament for six straight years and helped SPark win the tourney’s top honors last year. For now, Indian Creek’s team is Underwood’s focus since club doesn’t start until the winter. Dalisera calls Underwood a great role model. “She is unique and creative,” the coach says. “And it’s amazing what she has accomplished. I definitely think she is a rare student-athlete. That’s why she draws everybody in.”Click here to read Kendyl's full profile, originally published in What's Up? magazine.