Cumberland Valley senior Caylin Donlevy said she thought she had to have her future charted out by age 10.
“I’ve always been a big planner,” the Longwood University commit told FAN. “I seriously started to try to figure out where I wanted to go to college when I was in third grade.”
By the time she reached eighth, she started to send emails to college coaches to introduce herself and share her report cards. The 17-year-old plays for Nook Hockey, which is how she found, and connected with, Longwood.
“I play a lot of club field hockey,” she said. “I play for Nook. I first heard about Longwood when I went to a clinic there going into my sophomore year of high school.”
It took attending 38 clinics total, not specifically all at Longwood, before she said she was peacefully satisfied. The main reasons she decided on Longwood was timing, as well as a warm environment that had no hint of hostility. There had been a coaching change, which motivated Donlevy to resend her film.
“Longwood set up a call, visit, clinic, and after that was when I got my offer and I committed,” she said. “It was a matter of researching a lot of places. I’m so glad I took the trip to Farmville (Va.) because I absolutely love it down there…the players were incredibly welcoming. You could tell that everyone genuinely wanted to be there. People’s attitudes can influence how the current work is being handled and they are producing.”
Producing quality on and off the field, within relationships, and academically makes Donlevy tick. She said she’s only ever had her eyes set on Division I because she thrives on having to find an athletic, academic, and social balance.
“For me, I felt that I couldn’t stop looking until I reached that goal,” she said. “Whether that was more practice or improved conditioning – that’s my favorite part of field hockey – I always thought, they can’t make a judgment until they see me play. I had to get out in public to be seen.”
Donlevy is already preparing for college. When CV’s season ended in 2022, she was elected the off-season captain, accomplished her schoolwork, took new students on tours of the high school, chaired CV’s mini-THON fund (overseeing community donors), and she’s a barista at IDEA Coffee at Walden. She also spends time lifeguarding at the West Shore Country Club.
“For me, I really get bored easily,” she said. “I like having a packed and intense schedule. It pushes you to your limit. I look forward to it. Sports isn’t for everyone, after college, that is it. But after college, I think (having played sports) will help me in life to work through things that aren’t going my way.”
Longwood plays a packed schedule facing opponents like Wake Forest, Saint Francis, La Salle, Villanova, Duke, and Liberty. On top of her training, traveling, and playing, Donlevy said she wants to major in psychology with a criminology minor. Her end goal is achieving a Ph.D in some field of psychology, she said.
“I recently dissected a brain in my AP psych class,” she said. “I thought it was really cool. I’ll explore career options. I always try to plan ahead. My parents tell me you don’t know yet. You have to finish college first.”
Whatever choice Donlevy makes, she emphasized that treating people with respect is her ultimate goal in life. She said she thinks its cliche to treat people differently if they’re new to a team or if they are having a hard time. She said that everyone is once the new kid and that everyone will at some point have to manage life.
“I just feel that it’s something that I’ve always made a focus,” she said. “A team should never be a hostile environment. Part of sports is working with people and progressing through different stages in life.”
Donlevy was directing her comments to the incoming freshmen. Last season’s seniors, known as the ‘savage seven,’ were a talented group, she said. And, this season, there are six seniors. She said she doesn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable with “seniority.”
“We have a lot of talented underclassmen,” Donlevy said of the 2023 Cumberland Valley team. “I think allowing them to be themselves and confident in their abilities – going into my senior year, I want to make sure that everyone feels comfortable using their skills. Whether you’re a really good passer, you’re always positive, you’re always at the post, or you’re always cheering on your teammates, I want everyone to feel like they are allowed to be themselves and that they don’t have to hold back anything.”
Photos: Submitted, Tracy Polovick