There's no denying that Calvert High's Caitlin Galligan is small in stature. But when the 5-foot-2, 105-pound senior inserts a mouthpiece and picks up a field hockey stick, she becomes a giant of sorts in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference.
Galligan is the only returning all-conference field hockey player this season, and forget about her height--she and the Calvert Cavaliers think they can stand above the rest of the SMAC this season.
"I think I take a lot of people off guard, because when they look at me, they see this little girl and probably . . . wonder what I'm doing out there," said Galligan, a forward who scored a team-high 12 goals last season. "Then they see me play. I may be small, but I'm quick. . . . I definitely don't let someone intimidate me just because they are bigger than I am."
In fact, it is more often Galligan who does the intimidating once the whistle blows. Though she is right-handed, Galligan can play well from the left side as well. That is just one reason former Northern Coach Mary Finley says she is hard to contain.
"Caitlin may be slight of stature, but she's got the power to beat you at any time," said Finley, now Northern's athletic director. "She'd start on any of the 12 teams in the SMAC and she'd get her goals regardless. She almost single-handedly beat me every year. . . . But she's the kind of kid you want to see do well."
Galligan scored both goals in Calvert's 2-0 win over Northern last year in both teams' regular season finale. Galligan's goals helped the Cavaliers spoil their biggest rival's shot at an undefeated season.
Ten days later, Northern eliminated Calvert in the Maryland 3A East playoffs for the second consecutive year, winning a quarterfinal 2-1 on penalty strokes. The Patriots went on to defend their 3A East title before falling, 1-0, in the state semifinals to Fallston.
This year, the Cavaliers return nine starters, and Galligan says it's their turn.
"Our main goal this year is to get to states," Galligan said. "My sophomore year, everyone told us we were going to go, but this year I feel much more confident about our chances. It's our turn. We've lost to Northern the past two years in the playoffs, and that has pushed us to practice harder, do our drills harder. . . . I don't think there's anything that can stop us this year."
Calvert Coach Nicole Wilson is also confident in her team's abilities, but she said she is not quite as convinced as Galligan that the Cavaliers (10-3 in 1998) are destined to reach the state playoffs. She isn't surprised by the enthusiasm of her team captain, however.
"Caitlin is our leader, on and off the field," Wilson said. "She keeps the girls motivated, keeps their spirits up and also leads them on the field, skill-wise. She is a tremendous asset to our team."
Galligan, the starting left fielder for Calvert's softball team, carries a 3.5 grade-point average and is a member of the National Honor Society. She volunteers to speak at local elementary schools as a Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) role model and serves as co-sports editor of the Cavaliers' high school newspaper with her twin brother, Brendan. Brendan is a standout catcher for Calvert's baseball team and is the football team's starting tight end.
"Brendan and I are best friends, we get along all the time," Galligan said. "We usually get into trouble in our classes for talking to each other so much. And we're also each other's biggest fans. . . . It's great to have that support."
They only have one continuing dispute, Galligan said, and it's definitely not sports-related.
"He's exactly three minutes older than me," she said, laughing. "And I hear about it all the time."
CAPTION: Calvert's Caitlin Galligan, a 5-foot-2 forward, says, "I definitely don't let someone intimidate me just because they are bigger than I am."
CAPTION: Caitlin Galligan, Calvert's field hockey captain, tries to maneuver around a teammate during practice on Friday.