By Gavin Menu
For three consecutive games the Pierson-Bridgehampton field hockey team played into double overtime and beyond before securing their historic New York State Class C Championship on Sunday.
The program was without a junior varsity team this year and also had a limited bench consisting mostly of younger players. The starting 11 often went the distance, and the rules of overtime allow only six position players and a goalie to take the field.
So when Kasey Gilbride scored the winning goal to clinch the program’s first-ever state title in double overtime on Sunday, one of her trainers, Molly McDonald, was in the stands beaming with pride.
Gilbride, along with fellow seniors Katherine Matthers, Kirra McGowin and India Hemby as well as sophomore Erica Selyukova, had been training at Integrated Exercise Therapy (IET) in Bridgehampton with McDonald and owner Andrew Reilly during the months and weeks leading up to and during the fall season.
The results over the weekend, Reilly said, came from a lot of hard work.
“Overall their program consisted of lots of strength and power work,” Reilly said. “They crawl, they jump, they pull, they push, they throw. You would be astonished to see all 115 pounds of Kasey Gilbride pushing a 375-pound sled repeatedly across the turf, or flipping a giant hunk of metal end over end that weighs 260 pounds.”
Gilbride, who in the fall will attend the University of Richmond on an athletic scholarship, struggled with shin splints in the past and often played in pain. As a three-sport athlete who rarely leaves the field or court, Reilly told Gilbride she needed a program to help with recovery.
“The first thing I did was ask for Kasey’s schedule,” Reilly said. “Out of the following 60-day period she was scheduled to practice or play a game on 59 of those days. That concerned me immediately. She was asking her body to perform at an elite level day in day out without enough rest.”
Reilly provided Gilbride with a Heart Rate Variability monitor to gauge how well she recovered from workouts. Over time she would miss an occasional practice, if necessary, compete in games and then get back to work at IET during the offseason.
“Once her season ended we could begin the real work of building a better athlete,” Reilly said. “Kasey hasn’t had a single episode of shin splints in a year.”
Gilbride’s mother, Nicole, praised the work of Reilly and his staff.
“I do not think I have ever seen Kasey compete pain free for this length of time ever,” she said. “She wants to play at no less than 150 percent every game, every practice and we definitely think IET has given her the ability to do that this year. It really has been a phenomenal physical and mental experience for her.”
Reilly and the team at IET specialize in working with professional athletes, and even at the high school level, they provide a needs analysis based on the sport and each individual athlete. Selyukova, for example, struggled with back pain and the trainers worked on loosening her back muscles prior to strengthening her core.
Selyukova played every minute in both games over the weekend.
“The girls fitness level going into the state championships was awesome,” Reilly said. “Since June they have put 50 plus sessions in at the gym, this is on top of all their field hockey practices and games. Their work ethic has been incredible and it showed on the field. These girls were still fresh in double overtime.”