Athlete of the Issue: Neve Ley ’21


Courtesy of Neve Ley

Neve Ley ’21, co-captain of the girl’s ice hockey team, has showcased her proficiency in the rink the moment she stepped on campus. From the team’s first win against St. Marks during her third form year to the countless more victories thereafter, Neve has proved her loyal dedication to making every game count. She currently plays on the defensive line but has also shown her skills as a forward. This season, she maintains a positive outlook despite the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions. Although her career at Groton will soon come to an end, we can expect to see a strong finish for her final hockey season before she leads varsity lacrosse in the spring as a co-captain.


How did you start playing ice hockey?

I started playing hockey randomly one winter when I was 8. My mom grew up swimming and swam in college, so in the winter my little sisters and I did competitive swimming. We tried hockey one Sunday afternoon at our town’s learn to skate program for kids because a family friend, who also happened to have daughters that swam, suggested that we would enjoy skating. From there, we kept skating every weekend and eventually started playing club. By that next winter, we had quit swimming to spend more time playing hockey. 


What do you find most enjoyable about the sport?

There’s so much I love about this sport that it’s hard to choose. Some things that stand out the most aren’t necessarily the moments on the ice but the ones playing mini sticks at away tournaments when I was younger, dancing in the locker room after practice, dinners in the dining hall after late practice, the bus ride karaoke, preseason on campus, or the little jokes made in line during drills or on the bench during a game. Being able to play with my sisters is a blast, especially when Keira and I are D partners!


What are some of the highlights of your Groton ice hockey career?

One of my favorite memories is beating St. Mark’s at St. Mark’s third form year. They were going on to the playoffs and even though we knew it was our last game of the season, we all played incredibly well. We won 2-1. Scoring the winning goal in OT against St. George’s that year was one of my favorite highlights as well. 


What is your fondest memory of the team apart from practice?

Decorating the locker room for the sixth-formers my fourth form year. We spent two days and three hours putting lights and streamers up, blowing up balloons, and writing speeches since there were no fifth-formers on the team that year. After our St. Mark’s game, we had a really lovely team dinner and ceremony for the 6th formers. And honestly whenever we spent way too long before and after practice/games singing and sharing stories from our days in the locker room. There are so many moments I can’t choose just one special one. The past four years have been so amazing and I love this team so much.


What were some challenges from this season? How did you overcome them?

Not being in our locker room. Typically, it’s a space where we spend so much of our time that we become a really tight-knit team without a need for extra team bonding. Without it this year, we now have to be more aware of how to create the same environment. Obviously not having games leaves every team with a huge challenge to face. Playing games brings unintentional team bonding, something to work towards each practice, a sense of discipline and structure, and just the fun of competing. No interscholastic competition has been a bit of a struggle this season but as captains, we have tried to encourage giving your best effort at practice to keep the intensity up since it can be a lot of the same these days.


What is the most important thing you took away from hockey?

I first think of how hockey has helped me grow as a person and find confidence in myself. Since I started skating pretty late relative to other girls in my age group, I had a lot of catching up to do. I remember there being tryouts and camps that my dad forced me to go to. I remember being anxious, crying, and not wanting to go. Looking back now, I’m pretty proud of myself for sticking with it, especially because all hockey has brought me. I think sports in general help teach some pretty important life lessons, and along with them, hockey has brought me some incredible friends and amazing memories. It is what made me apply to Groton in the first place, so I’m incredibly grateful for it because of that as well.