‘Such a great honor:’ Greenfield’s Kelly Doton to be inducted into the USA Field Hockey Hall of Fame on Friday

Greenfield’s Kelly Doton, shown coaching the Boston College field hockey team last fall, will be inducted into the USA Field Hockey Hall of Fame on Friday.

Greenfield’s Kelly Doton, shown coaching the Boston College field hockey team last fall, will be inducted into the USA Field Hockey Hall of Fame on Friday. PHOTO BY KATIE PEVERADA/BC ATHLETICS

By THOMAS JOHNSTON

Staff Writer

Published: 05-22-2024 4:41 PM

Greenfield High School alum Kelly Doton has accomplished just about everything she could have hoped for in the sport of field hockey.

Doton has won everywhere she’s been, starting with the Green Wave where she helped bring Greenfield a state championship in 1999. She went on to play at Wake Forest, winning back-to-back national championships in 2002-03 with the Demon Decons. 

After graduating from Wake, Doton made over 100 caps with U.S. Women’s National Team, competing in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. In 2015, she took over as head coach of the Boston College field hockey team.

For all she’s accomplished, Doton will be inducted into the USA Field Hockey Hall of Fame on Friday in Westlake Village, Calif. 

Doton is one of five members of the 2024 Hall of Fame Class along with Patrick Cota, Katelyn Ginolfi, Amy Baxter and Dr. Christine Grant.  

“It is such a great honor,” Doton said. “Not everyone gets to go into the Hall of Fame. I always tell people I didn’t play the sport with the end goal of making the Hall of Fame. I played to win. It was the same thing when I went into the [Wake Forest] Hall of Fame years ago. It’s a team sport. I know this is an individual award but there’s no way this would have happened without the players around me. It’s an individual honor but it’s a team still. Anyone that goes into the Hall of Fame in a team sport can probably say the same thing.”

It was a call from USA Field Hockey director Simon Hoskins that let Doton know she would be a member of the Class of 2024.

“I missed the call because I thought it was spam at first but it was Simon Hoskins, the executive director,” Doton recalled. “He congratulated me on being inducted to USA Field Hockey Hall of Fame. I thought ‘did I just hear this right?’ My brother was in town for the weekend and I told him to listen to it. Then I got to talk to some people from USA Field Hockey. It was great.”

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After winning the 2002 and 2003 National Championships at Wake Forest — and being the Honda Award winner in 2003, which is presented to the National Field Hockey Player of the Year — Doton was an easy player for the National Team to identify in joining the squad.

However, Doton wanted to enjoy her final semester in Winston-Salem, N.C. instead of focusing on joining the National Team.

“The USA journey was crazy,” Doton said. “I remember talking to the head and assistant coach when I was a senior at Wake. They were going to New Zealand to do an Olympic qualifier [for the 2004 Games] and they asked if I wanted to join the team. I didn’t know. My head wasn’t there, my heart wasn’t there. We had just won a National championship and I wanted to enjoy my last semester at Wake. They didn’t qualify [for the Olympics]. I graduated, took some time, talked to Jen [Averill], my coach at Wake, and told her I wanted to do the USA stuff. Throughout my college career it was just focused on Wake.”

After graduating, Doton spent the fall of 2004 volunteering on the Wake Forest coaching staff. In January 2005, Team USA held an open tryout in Virginia Beach and Doton decided to go out for the team.

Doton made the team and became part of a USA squad that was in transition, having not qualified for either the 2000 or 2004 Olympics. With a squad full of players devoid of international experience and without the most talent, Team USA made sure they were the hardest working group on the field.

“At the time, it was a lot of college players that had just graduated,” Doton said. “A lot of the veterans had left so it was a new era. We were fortunate that Kate Barber and Kelly Puzo, without them we wouldn’t have qualified or had the success that we had during that three, four-year run. My first international match we were in New Zealand. I was looking at their roster and everyone on New Zealand had 150, 200 caps. We had eight players with zero caps. A lot of those players were like me coming out of college with college success. We got smashed 5-0. It was a learning and growing experience. We were never the most talented team in the world but we knew our strengths and weaknesses. Nobody was going to out-compete us. It was a big thing for that run.” 

Doton competed in the 2006 World Cup in Spain and the 2007 Pan-Am Games in Brazil before helping the U.S. qualify for an Olympics outside of the country for the first time in over 20 years.

Getting to represent her country in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing is a memory she said she’ll never forget, as Doton noted how special it was to get to travel the world playing the sport she loves. 

“Hearing the anthem in Beijing was an experience like no other,” Doton said. “The Opening Ceremony was an experience like no other. I’m very prideful wearing the red, white and blue as much as I was the black and gold for Wake.

“My first trip was to New Zealand,” Doton added. “I had never been over there and it’s awesome there. I got to go to some great countries. China is the easy one to remember but I got to go to Japan, I got to go to Spain, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Argentina, Chile, Brazil. There were a lot of places I got to go to because of field hockey. It’s wild to think about but I’m very fortunate to have been able to do that and enjoy it with the team.”

What pushed Doton after all she’s accomplished? She said she was driven by the hatred of losing, more than the thrills of winning.

“I hated losing,” Doton said. “I hated losing more than I enjoyed winning. The spectrum of high energy when you win and low energy when you lose, I didn’t really have that high energy when we won. Losing just killed me and I hated it. It drove me to do things I might not have been able to do. When you hit a barrier, you do another rep. I’m very fortunate to have won at the high school and college levels. Even though I didn’t win a gold medal — which is very difficult to do — we had success. We had too many ties. We were 10th in the world rankings [going into the 2008 Olympics] and finished eighth. In that regard, it was a success.”

Even with the success at the collegiate and international levels, Doton still has the distinct memory of coming back to Greenfield after winning the state championship her senior year. 

“When people ask me what I remember the most, I do remember winning the state championship at Greenfield with my best friends,” Doton said. “I remember the bus ride home and going into town with the police escort and everyone back at the high school celebrating. That’s hometown pride. Not a lot of people understand it but we certainly had it. That was a great time, great memory of mine for my field hockey career.” 

Doton has devoted her life to field hockey. After spending time coaching at Indiana, Doton was appointed the head coach at Boston College in 2015, a job she holds today. Doton helped the Eagles reach the 2019 NCAA Final Four and currently has the best winning percentage of any coach in BC field hockey history.

“Field hockey led me to my job,” Doton said. “I’m very fortunate to be at Boston College and have the coaching career I’ve had. It all started with field hockey. Growing up in Greenfield I was always a huge fan of Boston. I love the city, I love BC.” 

Doton said she is looking forward to being able to celebrate her accomplishments this weekend along with her family, friends and former teammates in California. 

“My support around me is so excited,” Doton said. “I’m truly honored to be inducted into Hall of Fame and am looking forward to a great weekend being around a lot of the people that supported me throughout my career. I have a lot of family and friends coming in. It’s a good excuse to go to LA for the weekend. If I can be the reason, that’s great. It’s a great honor. It’ll be good to get out there and be around everyone.”