Hooray Sunray: Walker’s field hockey alumnae receive Player of the Game, Athlete of the Week, Player of the Month, All-League, and National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) honors and selection to the USA delegation to Israel for the 21st Maccabiah Games.
Pictured clockwise from top left: Brianna Duba ’19 (photo by Perry Laskaris), Keeley Duran ’18 (photo by Mckee Photo Arts), Liza Phillips ’17 (photo by Foley Photography), Ava Rivera ’20 (photo by Washington College Athletics), and Grace Majka ’19 (photo by Springfield Athletics).
This fall, five Walker’s field hockey alumnae have made significant strides as members of their collegiate teams, including earning recognition at the school, regional, and national levels.
Ava Rivera ’20 (Washington College) was twice named Goose Nation TV Shorewoman Player of the Game this fall for her stellar goaltending. While at Walker’s, Rivera was a varsity captain, selected to the New England Prep School Athletic Conference (NEPSAC) All-Tournament Team, Founders League All-League, Western New England Preparatory School Field Hockey Association (WNEPSFHA) All-Star, and the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) All-Academic Squad. In her senior year, Rivera received Walker’s Coaches’ Award and the Meritorious Effort Cup.
Grace Majka ’19, a health science major at Springfield College, was named Athlete of the Week in October. Majka scored two goals in three field hockey games, including in a 3-2 win over Gordon College. While at Walker’s, Majka was a varsity captain, selected to the Founders League All-League, and received Walker’s Coaches’ Award.
Brianna Duba ’19 is a civil engineering major at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and junior captain of its fiield hockey team. Duba was selected to the 2021 National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division III All-Region First Team, The Liberty League First Team All-League, and was chosen as the Liberty League Defensive Player of the Year. Duba is also on the 2021 Liberty League Fall All-Academic Team. Student-athletes at RPI must have at least sophomore athletic and academic standing with a minimum grade point average of 3.30 to be selected. Duba, a field hockey captain while at Walker’s, was selected NEPSAC All-Tournament Team, Founders League All-League, WNEPSFHA All-Star, NFHCA All-Southern New England Regional All-American, NFHCA High School Player of the Month, and to the NFHCA All-Academic Squad. Duba was Walker’s field hockey team’s MVP and was awarded The William C. Lickle Athletic Cup. While a student at Walker’s, Duba was also very involved in the arts where she was a music major and received the Visual Arts Prize.
Duba commented about her time at Walker’s saying, “Walker’s allowed me to take advanced-level courses that taught me the skills and problem-solving I use in college. Between the high-level academics and competitive athletics, I learned to manage my time wisely, which has been one of the most important skills at the collegiate level. The field hockey program at Walker’s allowed me to grow into the athlete I am today, both on and off the field.”
Keeley Duran ’18, a geoscience and world politics major at Hamilton College and its field hockey team captain, received Player of the Month honors in October. She was one of 24 players selected to the 2021 NESCAC Field Hockey All-Conference Second Team. One of four defenders on the team, Duran helped lead nationally-ranked no. 20 Hamilton to a 10-6 overall record. Duran was selected to the 2021 NFHCA Division II All-Region Second Team. While at Walker’s, Duran was a three-season captain of the varsity field hockey team, co-head of the a capella group, the Grapes, and a music major. Duran received numerous awards for leadership and effort at Walker’s, including The Voorhees Cup, The William C. Lickle Athletic Cup, The Redden Award by the Yale Club, and the Beatrice Hurlburt Memorial Prize. Duran was selected NEPSAC All-Tournament Team, Founders League All-League, WNEPSFHA All-Star, and was selected to the NFHCA All-Academic Squad. She was also the team MVP of the varsity field hockey team in her senior year.
Liza Phillips ’17 received her bachelor’s degree in sport management and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in organizational leadership at Nichols College. Phillips was the Nichols field hockey team captain and received the Richard Scheffler Sixth Man Award for her work behind the scenes. Phillips has been named to the Women’s Open Field Hockey Team that will compete for the United States at the 21st Maccabiah next summer in Israel. The Maccabiah is the third largest international multi-sport event globally, following only the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup. It strives to provide Jewish athletes worldwide the opportunity to share their heritage and customs in competitive athletic settings. The organization supports programs that embody the Maccabi ideals of Jewish pride, continuity, Zionism, and excellence in sport.
Walker’s head varsity field hockey coach Mimi Duran commented on her field hockey alumnae accolades, “College coaches look at a player’s skill and athleticism, but there are so many more characteristics that make our girls more attractive to coaches. Our program prides itself on building strong relationships among members of the team. These relationships create an atmosphere of trust and accountability. Our players learn how to be good teammates, be honest with each other, and make mature decisions through defining moments. These girls have proven that they can thrive academically while competing at the highest levels. I am so proud of how they represent our school and field hockey program. They will always be a part of our extended hockey family at Walker’s.”
Coach Duran has 30 years of coaching experience, both in independent and public schools and is a 2015 inductee into the Connecticut Field Hockey Hall of Fame. She began her tenure at Walker’s in fall 2007 leading an aggressive field hockey effort, winning seven CISAC League titles, six CISAC Tournament titles, and the Class C WNEPSA Championship title in 2010, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. Her teams have appeared in the WNEPSA Field Hockey Tournament in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2014 through 2019. Mimi is a Coach of the Year recipient from both CHSCA and CFHCA. She is a NFHCA 200 Victory Club Award recipient and has been selected to membership in the New Agenda: Northeast Women’s Hall of Fame. In 2019, Duran received recognition from the NFHCA for her 300th career win and recently was awarded the M.D. Nadal Award for Sportsmanship, given annually by heads of school and athletics directors from the Founders League.
Walker’s field hockey team has had great success getting its players recognized by collegiate coaches. While students at Walker’s, athletes balance demanding course loads, membership in clubs, and student volunteerism while preparing for the college recruitment process. Many students are recruited to play field hockey at the collegiate level, including Division, I, II, and III levels.