While Brianna Hamel has been unable to join her sister Meghan with the Bristol co-op girls lacrosse team this season due to a knee injury suffered during the past basketball season, her lacrosse career is far from over.
Brianna Hamel formally signed a Letter of Intent on Wednesday afternoon to play women’s lacrosse for CCSU next year.
While there’s currently no scholarship money involved, the signing is noteworthy as Hamel will become one of the first alumni of the four-year old Bristol girls co-op to move on to play at a Division I college.
Bristol Eastern graduate Shelby Folsom, already attending the University of Hartford, will be on that school’s women’s lacrosse team when it begins official varsity play next year.
Hamel will join a team coached by Princess Livingston that currently has only one Connecticut native of the 20 players on its roster, a freshman from Madison.
“CCSU is getting a great athlete, a great person. She’s going to do great things,” Bristol girls lacrosse coach Kyle Phelan said.
“Bri is what you want on your team. She works hard,” he added. “She never wants to lose. She never wants to come in second. She never wants to not give her best.”
The daughter of Kim and Tim Hamel, Brianna Hamel was an all-conference lacrosse player last season, scoring 33 goals with 15 assists, 39 draw controls and 26 ground balls.
“I don’t want to go into the season thinking I will get much time playing, seeing as I’ll only be a freshman, but I do plan to go into the season working hard to gain respected playing time,” Brianna Hamel wrote in an email.
Brian Archibald, BCHS faculty manager, noted that in his 20 years of involvement with athletics at Bristol Central, “I don’t know that I can say I’ve seen a better candidate to be called a true role model.”
Since the knee injury she suffered playing basketball that effectively ended her high school career, she has continued to support and be an inspiration for her teammates.
“I’ve seen a change since that injury … She’s engaging. She’s supportive,” Archibald said.
He added, “She’s probably one of the most gifted female athletes I’ve seen at Bristol Central in quite some time.”
Rams basketball coach Steve Gaudet also praised his former player, saying it was an honor to coach both her and Meghan.
“The character and the work ethic she brings is second to none,” he said. “Kids look up to her from top to bottom [of the age spectrum].”
Brianna Hamel said one reason she decided to go to CCSU is that, “I just liked the campus a lot,” but it was also one of the last expensive schools available and it had the major she wanted - exercise science.
“It worked out extremely well. Better than I thought it would,” she said.
Hamel was focusing her college search based upon her academic pursuits, but said her father encouraged her to talk with the lacrosse coach about playing. As it turned out, the team welcomed her.
She’ll be ready to go with CCSU when next year’s season begins.
“I’m very excited,” she said.
“I was offered a spot at [Division III] Westfield State over the summer and I was even surprised I had that opportunity, so to be offered to play on a DI team is beyond what I could think of and I’m very thankful for the opportunity,” she added.
Josh Kestenbaum contributed information for this story.