Andover Girls Soccer Co-Captain Kelly Bu ’23 began her soccer career recreationally at the age of five. It was not until five years later when she “fell in love” with the sport and the sense of community that her soccer team afforded her. In her final year on the team, she says working toward a common goal has inspired this feeling.
“I really fell in love with the team aspect of [soccer] and sort of the gratification that you get from working hard and being able to see results just from sticking with something… [And when] you are on a team and can rely on your teammate to compete with you and to bring you up when you need it, you’re able to compete to win, to compete to improve, and all of those other things. So, it’s partially just being a part of a team and having that culture and family, but also everyone’s working towards a collective goal and [having] the same intentions moving forward and that’s always something that I really enjoy,” said Bu.
Hayden Fischer ’25 emphasized Bu’s empathy for her teammates. Both on and off the field, Bu strives to connect with her teammates by raising their spirits on difficult days.
Fischer said, “Kelly is a very dedicated person and she definitely pours her heart and soul into the sport and our team. I love how she cares so much about us and not only as athletes but as people…. She brings a lot of positivity, and especially when everyone’s having a hard day, she’s always there to lift us up and make sure we’re working our hardest so the team can move forward and get over those hard days.”
Likewise, Head Coach Lisa Joel highlighted Bu’s devotion and enthusiasm. According to Coach Joel, Bu’s agency on the pitch is a big factor in her leadership of the team.
“She’s full of passion for whatever she does and she does a lot on this campus… I think that what makes her a great leader is her sense of commitment to the things that she does. I think her strengths include her bottomless spirit. For, not just this team, but the GVS spirit and family, she’s just that. I think her strength is understanding that she’s part of something larger than herself and her ability to articulate that. And also just how she plays, she’s a leader. Not just by example, but by voice. She leads in every possible way,” said Coach Joel.
Bu attested her method of leadership in large part to Myra Bhathena ’22, a former Girls Soccer Co-Captain. She strives to strike a balance between a powerful desire to win and recognizing the hardships her teammates may experience off the field.
“I really try to emulate what Myra Bhathena… did a lot of. It’s really just having a lot of empathy for people and making sure that people feel like they can come talk to us and have a safe space. But also being able to balance that we want to win, we want to work hard and we want to train to be the best team that we can be. While also being able to be mindful of everyone having their own struggles, and everyone having their own personal journeys as they navigate Andover and the Andover experience,” said Bu.
Coach Joel attributed Bu’s extensive game time this season to her indispensable role as center back on the team’s backline. Especially in difficult positions, Coach Joel has found Bu’s ability to control the team’s build-up and get goals back to be irreplaceable.
Coach Joel said, “I mean literally by her position and by what is expected of her verbally on the field, to be a vocal leader, Kelly is able to not only stand out as a player, but as a voice of the team throughout the game… She has probably logged the most minutes of any teammate this year and it’s because we simply don’t take her off the field on game day because she’s just relentless. When the team is down, she’s the one to pick them up and, quite frankly, she’s the first part of our success to our offense, because she’s the reason we’ve won the ball back, and she’s the reason we’re moving forward with it. She’s invaluable to us.”