Alumni Profiles Sports

Alumna Caroline Shipley ’16 Crowned NCAA DIII National Champion

Courtesy of Caroline Shipley

Shipley, now a sophomore at Bowdoin College, ran the 1200-meter first leg of Bowdoin’s Distance Medley Relay to help her team to a victory on March 9. Wearing the black singlets are her teammates; from left to right: Claire Traum, who ran the 800-meter third leg; Sara Ory, who ran the 400-meter second leg; Sarah Kelley, who ran the 1600-meter anchor leg; and Shipley.

As Captain of Girls Soccer and a member of 42 relay teams during her time at Andover, Caroline Shipley ’16 displayed a strong athletic prowess that continued into her collegiate career. Shipley, a member of Bowdoin College’s class of 2020, used her inherent athletic talents coupled with a dedicated work ethic and positive attitude to win the NCAA Division III Track & Field Medley Relay title for the 2018 indoor track season alongside her Medley Relay team.

Shipley said, “With track, everything builds on everything, so every season you try to get better. I think I began preparing for it even at Andover.”

At Andover, Shipley ran both Indoor and Outdoor Track, participating in a variety of relay events including the 4×100-Meter, 4×400-Meter, 4×200-Meter, 4×440-Yard, and the Distance Medley Relay. Shipley was also a member of the Interschols teams during all four years of her Andover career, acquiring points for the team each year, according to Head Coach of Track & Field Rebecca Hession.

Her Junior year, Shipley placed second in the 4×100-Meter Relay and third in the 400-Meter Dash. Lower Year, she and her team won the 4×400-Meter Relay. She went on to place second in the 400-Meter Dash, fourth in the 200-Meter Dash, and won the 4×400-Meter Relay again in her Upper year. By her Senior year, Shipley had won the 400-Meter Dash as well as the 4×400-Meter Dash for the third year in a row.

Holding Junior, Lower, and Upper class records in the 400-Meter Dash, Shipley also set the event’s Andover/Exeter meet record in 2014 with a time of 59.28 seconds.

Andover Girls Track & Field Captain Fredericka Lucas ’18, Shipley’s teammate in the 4×400-Meter her Senior year, said “I was lucky to compete on the 4×400-Meter Relay with her, and she was always motivating and inspiring us to work our hardest, especially as it came down to our championship meet. Most of all, she was known for always crossing the finish line with a smile on her face, even in her toughest races.”

Shipley was popularly known at Andover for her positive attitude in all aspects of her life. In addition to being a member of track, she was a Blue Key Head and Captain of Andover Girls Soccer.

Stating that the day she received her Blue Key Head skirt was one of her best memories at Andover, Shipley also said that her only better Andover memory was the day she got to pass it down to Nikki Dlesk ’17.

In her Senior year, Shipley and Andover Girls Soccer secured a Nepsac title. Despite the fact that her agility was an extremely valuable asset to the team, Shipley’s selfless personality highlighted her strength on the field. Rather than asking to be put on the field, Shipley requested that Head Coach Lisa Joel do whatever was best for the team, even if it meant sidelining herself during her final game for Andover.

Joel said, “She [was]h a critical part of our success. I will say this: she was selfless. During that tournament, I remember this very specifically, there were times that she was on the sidelines as a captain and as someone who actually started for us because we were doing what we thought we had to do to put ourselves in the best position to win. She came up to me on the sidelines and it mattered to her to do whatever she had to do to help make the team successful. She sort of said to me, ‘If that means that I am going to play less, then I am going to play less.’ I’ve been coaching for 18-plus years, and that is extraordinary for a teammate to do and for a captain to do — to basically say, ‘I want to be out there when we’re winning and help us win, but if there’s someone that can do it better than I can, I want you to make that decision.’ ”

When the team won the Nepsac title, Shipley said, “I was so beyond excited. I think I was mostly proud of everyone because those girls were incredible, and just to be on the field with them as it was happening was just incredible. Lisa’s reaction was just incredible. I just remember being so psyched and being so happy for her.”

Shipley began her soccer career in Andover’s JV program during her Junior year and went on to make varsity by her Lower year.

Joel said, “She earned a spot on the varsity team because I felt that she was one of the best athletes on the entire team as a [Lower], largely because she had speed like no one and she had an acceleration like no one — not just on our team but across New England prep schools. People couldn’t figure out how to stop her, and you can’t beat what you can’t catch. You couldn’t catch Caroline Shipley if she was off and running down a flank. She didn’t play her [Lower] year very much. Her Upper year, she barely stepped off the field.”

Shipley’s dedication and work ethic are demonstrated in every sport she played and in all facets of her life. Her continued hard work and positive attitude made her a pleasure for coaches to work with.

“She is just absolute sunshine. When she came to us from the Pike School, the local private school… they spoke about her as literally one of their best kids of all time. I will say, in my time she is one of the best kids I’ve seen at Andover. She just exudes positivity… If we could have Caroline Shipleys throughout all of our teams, all of us coaches would say give me more Caroline Shipleys,” continued Joel.

According to Shipley, during the NCAA Championships race, she did not think too much and focused on sticking to the plan the team developed. She had three goals in mind: stick to the plan, run her race, and get the baton to the next person.

Shipley ran the 1200-meter first leg of the medley; Shipley’s race was respectively followed by Sara Ory (Bowdoin ’19)’s  400-meter dash, Claire Traum (Bowdoin ’20)’s 800-meter race, and Sarah Kelly (Bowdoin ’18)’s mile run. Shipley and her relay teammates trained for this event over the entire season.

As Kelly completed the last lap of the race, she pulled ahead to secure a division title for Shipley and the team. The team’s excitement was palpable as she crossed the finish line.

Shipley said, “I was jumping up and down, and I was so proud of our miler [Kelly], who runs the last lap in the race. I just couldn’t get over her. I was fangirling over her because she’s the probably the most incredible athlete I have ever competed with.”

Joel believes that Shipley, too, is one of the most incredible athletes, not to mention people, the school has ever had the privilege of educating. It is Joel’s belief that one day she will be inducted into the Athletic Hall of Honor.

Joel added, “She was a great student, a great athlete, but above all else she is one of the finest human beings this school has seen… I think she is the best of the best of Andover. She is one of the finest human beings I have met here. Everything she is going to do, the people around her are going to be lucky because she is going to bring people along, and I think that is what is very special about her.”