Sometimes it comes down to taking a chance. In the case of former Bishop Fenwick star athlete Andrea Slaven, she made the most of the only chance she had.
Slaven, a 3-sport athlete at Fenwick, is one of seven former Crusaders along with the 2004 state champion baseball team, who’ll receive the ultimate Crusader honor – induction into the Bishop Fenwick Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday at Montvale Plaza in Stoneham.
But it might’ve never happened but for a fortuitous decision that opened the door for Slaven to become one of Fenwick’s most accomplished collegiate athletes.
A member of the field hockey team, Slaven led the Greater Boston League in scoring as a senior. She served as a captain of the field hockey and basketball teams and played one year of varsity softball.
She was a 3-time GBL all-star in field hockey and a 2-time Catholic Central Conference all-star in basketball. A Boston Globe Field Hockey All-Scholastic her senior year, she was also named The Daily Item Field Hockey Player of the Year, also as a senior, when she also won the team’s Kristin Amico Sesselman Award. As a junior, Slaven received the Crusaders’ Offensive Player of the Year award.
As impressive as Slaven’s high school career was, Slaven took her game to a higher level at St. Michael’s College, where she was originally recruited to play basketball. Field hockey wasn’t on her agenda.
“I was visiting the school to talk to the basketball team and coach. I wasn’t even thinking about playing anything but basketball,” said Slaven. “It’s funny because St. Mike’s was my last choice school. I wanted to go to Merrimack but was wait-listed. I wasn’t much of a student, so St. Michael’s was the only school that took a chance on me and accepted me. I guess you could say they took a chance on me and gave me a shot. So I went for a visit and all of a sudden my father just said let’s see the field hockey coach and we met her on the fly. I had a VHS tape and handed it to her.”
The meet and greet didn’t pan out initially.
“Carla Hesser was the coach and when I handed her the tape all she said was ‘If I haven’t heard of you by now, there’s not too much I can do for you’, so that wasn’t very promising, but eventually both coaches were supportive and agreed to let me play both.”
It worked out pretty well for Coach Hesser.
Slaven finished her career as the Purple Knights’ all-time leading scorer with 117 points, holding the school record for career goals (51), single season goals (21), career game-winning goals (17), game-winning goals in a single season (6), most games played (75) and was second in single season points with 45.
Slaven was named to the All-American First Team as a senior and Second Team as sophomore and junior. She was the ECAC Division 2 Player of the Year as a junior and also earned ECAC First Team honors as a junior and senior.
She led the Northeast-10 Conference in scoring and was named conference Most Valuable Player as a senior, earning NE-10 First Team honors as a junior and senior. She served team captain as a senior.
Slaven was named St. Michael’s NCAA Woman of the Year in 2008-2009 and also was one of 10 finalists for the NCAA’s national Woman of the Year award. In 2015 she was inducted into the St. Michael’s College Athletics Hall of Fame.
“I definitely was surprised when I got the call and it was a total shock,” said Slaven. “It was a great experience to be recognized and I worked hard during my four years there. Every year, my father and I would set goals even though I never really was a goal-setter. Like a lot of kids, my dad was my first coach and he really pushed me to become a better athlete and teammate.”
Slaven said that moving away to St. Michael’s was the best thing that ever happened.
“I was too comfortable at Fenwick and followed in my sister’s (Ally Cronan) footsteps. College pushed me to manage my time so I could become a better athlete and student whereas high school was all about getting my feet wet. I think you could say that I came into my own when I was on my own.”
Following college, she earned a masters degree in elementary education at Salem State and began coaching field hockey. She took her talents to perennial Cape Ann League field hockey powerhouse Manchester-Essex, where she coached the team to three straight league championships and snagged one CAL Coach of the Year award.
She also served as an assistant coach of the women’s field hockey team at Merrimack. The director of field hockey at Danvers Indoor Sports, Slaven resides in Saugus and is currently a first-grade teacher at the Hood Elementary School in North Reading. This past summer, she was named coach of the North Reading field hockey team.The team won just four games, but Slaven’s confident that a winning program is around the corner.
“I have never faced a challenge like the one I had this year,” she said. “But the kids were eager for a change and they jumped on board right away and followed my game plan, so I am very excited to have laid the groundwork for coming years.”
For all of the honors and accolades Slaven has received, one stands above all else.
“I would say that receiving that award in Kristin’s name was probably the highlight certainly of my high school career,” said Slaven. “My high school coach, Jill McGinniti started the award as she had played with Kristin at Fenwick and Kristin was a great multi-sport athlete at Fenwick. My sister received the inaugural award in ’01 and I received it three years later, so it was extremely special.”