FHS Alumni Kristi Kirshe to the Olympics


Elizabeth Clark, Writer

Every athlete imagines having successes in high school, college, and eventually the big stage of either professional sports or Olympic sports. For one Panther alumna, she had successes in high school, collegiately, and is now taking the Olympic stage, in a way many wouldn’t expect.

Kristi Kirshe, FHS Class of 2013, will play for the USA Rugby team. In high school, she was a Gatorade Player of the Year for soccer, and a standout in basketball and lacrosse as well. She went on to play soccer at Williams College, where she was the all-time leading scorer of goals in a season (18), career goals (43), and career points (114). After college, she missed being a competitive athlete and got involved in rugby. I recently got a chance to talk to her about her successes in high school, college, and now her involvement in rugby.

Q: How did you get into rugby? When was your first time playing?

A: Actually, one of my best friends and teammates from FHS, Grace Conley, is the reason I got into rugby. I had just graduated from college and was really missing being a competitive athlete so Grace suggested I start playing rugby with her friends from Boston. I was a little hesitant at first, mostly because I hadn’t picked up a new sport since I was like 10 years old, but I finally decided to give it a shot in February of 2018.

I definitely did not know that when I went to my first practice with Boston Women’s Rugby Club that rugby was going to be the sport that changed my life- but it truly has. It has actually been an amazing experience. Honestly, I had pretty much given up on the dream of being a professional athlete or being an Olympian but now I play rugby full time and am chasing down the dream of going to the 2020 Olympics- which is all just such an amazing opportunity

Q: What was going through your mind in your first game playing for the US?

A: Playing for the US for the first time was just such an out of this world experience. I remember when I first got my jersey, I just stared at it for a really long time in complete disbelief. I really could not wrap my brain around it. I was honestly pretty nervous building up to the first game, but the second I stepped onto the field with my teammates, a lot of those nerves disappeared and it was just like playing any other game. And now every time I step onto that field I truly just feel so lucky that I get to represent the USA and play a sport that I love.

Q: How did playing sports at Franklin High prepare you for college and beyond?

A: My experience playing sports at Franklin High was incredible. Franklin is filled with dedicated coaches who truly care about the development of their players as both athletes and as people. All of my coaches were supportive and pushed me to be a better version of myself. I don’t think that I would have been as successful as I was in my college career without the confidence instilled in me by my high school coaches.  Also, playing three sports at FHS- soccer, basketball, and lacrosse- made me a better overall athlete and I think rugby has been an incredible combination of the skills that I developed in each of those sports.

Q: Do you have a favorite experience from FHS?

A: My favorite experience at FHS was definitely winning the soccer state championship my senior year. It was such a perfect way to end my soccer career at Franklin and it was such a surreal experience to share with my teammates. I still remember the moment of pure joy when the final whistle blew and racing to the sidelines to celebrate with the whole team. I could not have written a better ending to my soccer experience at FHS.

Q: Do you have any advice for students looking to play a sport collegiately?

A: My biggest piece of advice would be to just never give up on yourself. Getting recruited to play in college is not an easy task, and the process is different for every individual athlete. But there are always a lot of ups and downs in the journey so you have to persevere if you want to succeed. I was turned down by a bunch of schools in my recruiting process but I knew that I wanted to play soccer in college so I just held on to that dream and kept working at it. Eventually, I found the school and program that was the best for me and the rest is history. Do your research, reach out to coaches, ask for advice on how you can improve, and put in the extra hours to make yourself the best you can be. Also, I think it is important for students to remember that when you’re picking a school you have to be picking it for more than just sports. Ask yourself “Would I be happy here if I couldn’t play my sport? Would I still pick this school?”. Considering those questions as well as considering the schools you can play at will be the best way to set yourself up for an enjoyable collegiate athlete experience.