Tearing through the ice, gradually picking up speed, with a blur of colors on her jersey, Jess Leone has an intense look of focus, determination, and concentration on her face. Number fifteen whizzes by, stick in hand and puck in control. Fiercely passing the puck to and fro, the team is a hard-at-work machine. She may not be the fastest on the team or the one who scores the most goals, but she is a steady driving force of confidence and strength. Leading the team with determination, she is the co-captain of the AHS Varsity Girls’ Ice Hockey Team.

Jess Leone, right, prepares for the puck drop at the Jan. 10 home game against Central Catholic. (Photo by Alexandra Scott)
Jess Leone, right, prepares for the puck drop at the Jan. 10 home game against Central Catholic. (Photo by Alexandra Scott)

She describes herself as quietly confident, competitive, and steady, which is clearly evident at every game of the season. Although she is at times quiet, she is very competitive. Coach Kevin Drew says that she scores at least one goal per game and is always involved in the plays.

Leone is co-captain of the team with Caroline Hughes by her side. The duo is very powerful, uniting the team into a formidable force to be reckoned with. The record of the team this season was 7-0-2 as of January 13.

A star athlete is “someone who has good character on and off the ice for hockey,” said Hughes. “Not only do they have good sportsmanship but they are a good leader.”

A star athlete is someone who “shows leadership, work ethic, sets the bar high for their teammates, and makes them better,” said Leone, when asked to describe a star athlete, and unknowingly described herself in the process.

“What makes Jess a great athlete is her determination, whether it is in the gym, practice or a game. She gives it her all,” said Gabby Vaccaro, a freshman on the team.

Drew said Leone “really knows what it takes to keep a team together and she is confident in what she does and is a great leader… She always puts the team first.”

A star athlete not only shows character on the field, but off the field. Leone fills these requirements and displays an immense amount of character and morals whether it is on the ice or in the classroom.

“A star student is someone who really works hard, really works well with other kids,” said Mrs. Gaudiano, a Spanish teacher who has had Leone in her class at least two or three times and believes that Leone is a perfect example of a star student.  “I always like a kid who you can put in any group and you know that they will either lead the group or just be a really good classmate, cooperating with everyone. Star students aren’t students who get A’s from me; they are students that work hard and really care about the subject they are learning.”

Leone has the leadership skills and determination on and off the ice, but expresses it in different ways. According to Gaudiano, Leone is a star student in every way. “Jess is a quiet leader- so when I found out that she was a really good athlete and a great leader on the field…I was surprised because she was so quiet and unassuming,” Gaudiano said, “She has got such a big heart. She leads by example and by being just nice and kind to everyone.”

Check out andoverhockey.org for a shot of co-captains Leone and Hughes, as well as coach Shaw, presenting the Player of the Week award to two young Andover players.

A role model can have a great influence on a person and shape the person into whom he or she is in the future, for better or worse. Leone’s role models are her parents. “They have given me a solid foundation and always push me to being the best I can be,” she said. This upbringing has impacted her and made her a great role model to the other girls on the team, urging them to have strength and confidence.

“Caroline and Jess are great motivators, whether we are winning or losing after a period. It is their words of wisdom that keep us moving,” said Vaccaro.

Drew said, “The other girls look up to her. She [has] been through and had [many] things thrown at her for four years. I think she has complete command of the locker room and the girls really respect everything she says. I think that’s what makes her a good captain.”

Leone is not solely a star athlete in relation to ice hockey, which she has been playing since she was ten. She also has been playing field hockey since freshman year and lacrosse since seventh grade. Leone was also the captain of the AHS Girls Varsity field hockey team this year.

The girls varsity ice hockey team aims to go far this season. (Photo by Alexandra Scott)
The girls varsity ice hockey team aims to go far this season. (Photo by Alexandra Scott)

The ice hockey team hopes to make it to play at the Boston Garden at the State Championships. Hughes said, “We don’t have a lot of talent individually, but when we work together, we work together really well and have a really good team. We are trying to get everyone to work together and hopefully make it really far in states.”

Leone is a star athlete on and off the ice because she is dedicated. “She works really hard to be a good athlete, to be a good student, to be a good person overall,” said Hughes. “She is so nice, the best person to hang around with. I would not rather be co-captains with anyone else; she is so easy to work with. She’s the best.”

By Alexandra Scott