Two athletic standouts from St. Paul, one a high school veteran and one a rookie, have been selected to share Athlete of the Week honors for area scholastic sports. They are senior Victoria Kilbourne of the girls tennis team and freshman lacrosse player Brycen Kennedy.
Kilbourne, the daughter of Dean and Linda Kilbourne of Bristol, is coming off the past two seasons as an All-NVL pick. The team’s No. 1 player this year, she played No. 2 behind the graduated Natasha Kempes last year, going unbeaten during the regular season and finishing second the past two years in the individual competition of the league tournament.
“This year is going to be her legacy,” St. Paul coach Beth Hines said. “She’s playing as good as I’ve ever seen her play. She’s improved tremendously.”
Last year, the Falcons went 13-2 overall as a team and lost to Watertown, 4-3, in the final of the NVL tournament. So far this season, the team is 6-2.
“The team has been putting in a lot of work and practice, which is paying off,” Kilbourne said. “We have a lot of new players and we are working with them to prepare them not only for this season, but also upcoming ones. We hope to continue to be a competitive team in the NVL. The goal for the team is to win the conference tournament.
“My season has been very good so far, currently being undefeated at the No. 1 singles spot. I feel that all of my work during the offseason is paying off. I have seen results specifically in my serves and top spin. I am hoping to continue my success for the remainder of the tennis season.”
Her goal is to win the No. 1 individual NVL crown.
In getting to where she is today, Kilbourne, who said her best stroke is the backhand, began playing tennis at nine years of age, when a family friend encouraged her to try lessons with his daughters. She immediately took to the sport and has not stopped since.
“I am very passionate about the sport and cannot wait to continue playing at the collegiate level,” Kilbourne said.
And that will be for Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. She signed her Letter of Intent at St. Paul last Wednesday with her coaches and teammates beside her.
She had advice for younger players.
“Always work hard and never give up - it’s not over ’till it’s over,” Kilbourne said. “Tennis is just as much a mental game as a physical game, so you always have to stay focused. If you do this, you will always be successful.”
Kennedy, the son of Christopher and Melissa Kennedy of Southington, is an attackman for St. Paul and his head coach is his father.
Last week was an outstanding one for the younger Kennedy, topped by an eight-goal, three-assist performance on Tuesday in St. Paul’s 21-3 win over Jonathan Law.
“Brycen is a highly-skilled lacrosse player that loves to compete year-round in multiple sports [football and basketball, too],” coach Kennedy said. “Brycen worked hard in the weight room this winter after suffering a severe leg injury early in his first high school football season. He has accepted the challenge of high expectations at a young age and thus far has managed to excel.
“Brycen is coachable and has taken bits and pieces from some great coaches with a wealth of college lacrosse experience both in the Southington Lacrosse Association - Dave Raymond and Steve Foresi - as well as in his time with Team Connecticut - Eric Bailey, Mike Devine and Brian Carpenter. Brycen has big dreams for his team and lacrosse career and just might have the work ethic to make them both a reality.”
Brycen Kennedy reflected on his season to date.
“This season has been an eye-opener for me as an athlete and a lacrosse player,” he said. “High school varsity lacrosse is a different game than it was in my youth. I think I’ve adjusted well, because I got used to playing and against high level competition for Team Connecticut. My goals and assists have drawn some attention and that’s been pretty much surreal as a freshman, but the only numbers that matter are wins. I’m proud of the way I’ve played so far, but I know I have a lot of work to do to finish the way I started.
“As a team, we’ve won all of our games so far and have already qualified for the playoffs, which is awesome. The season has been fun because we work so hard at practice and in the weight room. It’s great to see it pay off on the game field. We have an aggressive style of offense and defense, which is a lot of fun. We really have a great team chemistry, which I think is going to make this team one to be remembered.”
And, as far as having his father as a coach, that’s been good, too.
“It’s nothing new to me, having him as my coach,” Kennedy said. “He’s been on the sidelines my whole life. Growing up around high school players and coaches has truly been a blessing. My dad holds all his players to a high standard, just like he does me and my sisters, so having him as a coach pushes me to be the best I can be.”
Kennedy said he began playing lacrosse in third grade in Southington. He had previously played baseball, but found the new sport exciting and never looked back. He likes that it’s physical and fast-paced, and the fact there is creativity tied in with the game.
“I think that when lacrosse is played at a high level, it’s chaotic and artistic,” Kennedy said.
Ever since he first picked up a stick and watched the sport on television, college lacrosse has been a goal. He hopes his hard work in the classroom and on the lacrosse field will pay off with him getting to the highest level possible for him.
In the meantime, it’s this season and three more for the Falcons to benefit from his presence.
Contact Bob Montgomery at or by calling 860-973-1808.