Maddie Kahn

Maddie Kahn ’23 helped lead Lehigh field hockey to its first winning season in nearly 30 years.

PROFILE: Maddie Kahn ’23, Lehigh Field Hockey

The senior goalie has been on ESPN's SportsCenter Top 10 plays twice and played in the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Women's Junior World Cup in April.

Story by

Stephen Gross

Photography by

Christa Neu

Named Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Year as a sophomore, Maddie Kahn ’23 finished second in the nation in both save percentage (87.9) and saves per game (7.25) while her 1.01 goals against average was 11th-best. She followed that up by helping Lehigh field hockey record its first winning season in nearly 30 years as a junior. Kahn has been named to three U.S. national teams—U17, U19 and U21—and played in South Africa at the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Women's Junior World Cup in South Africa this past spring.

Major: Management

WHAT’S YOUR DREAM JOB?

I would really like to work in a pro sports organization. Sports have played such a big role in my life, and I just really enjoy them. So, in a business management-type role or something like that. I'm not really sure what I want specifically, but I would really enjoy working in a sports organization, whether it's MLB, the NFL, the NHL, their affiliate teams, whatever. Just being in that type of environment would be enjoyable for me.

IF YOU HAD YOUR CHOICE, WHICH LEAGUE WOULD YOU PICK?

I'm a big Philly sports fan. I really, really like the Eagles. So working in the Eagles organization would be incredible.

WHAT GOT YOU STARTED IN FIELD HOCKEY?

My older sisters and their friends played when it was offered in middle school. In the U.S., field hockey is offered pretty late. … I started playing in sixth grade, and I decided I wanted to play because my older sisters played.

WHAT OTHER SPORTS HAVE YOU PLAYED?

Ever since I could walk my parents signed me up for something to do. I did gymnastics when I was younger. Little league soccer, where you're just running around, kicking the ball into your own net. I played tee-ball and then I continued to play softball until middle school. I swam. And then I picked up lacrosse when I got to high school because it was offered to me.

HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN A GOALIE?

In sixth grade when I started, I actually was a back. I really just disliked running. I became friends with one goalkeeper who was in eighth grade, and it seemed she  didn't really have to run as much. That's what drew me towards goalie, the idea of not running as much, which obviously fell through once I got older and I found that you had to keep running and had to be fit.

WHAT’S YOUR PROUDEST ATHLETIC ACHIEVEMENT?

Being selected into the USA field hockey pipeline. Every time I get named to one of the USA teams, it's a big accomplishment for me. I kind of group them all together. Getting into the pipeline and staying in it is, I think, pretty cool and not something that many people get to say that they're doing, especially not many Patriot League players.

IS IT JUST AS SPECIAL EACH TIME YOU’RE ON A U.S. NATIONAL TEAM?

Yeah, I would say so. The coaching staff changes when you go through the different teams and they look for different styles and different things. So it's definitely just as special getting named each time. It's not expected for me. I don't go to these things and expect to be named all the time just because I was able to accomplish that previously. It’s definitely just as special each time getting the press release and seeing my name on there.

YOU WERE ON SPORTSCENTER’S TOP 10 PLAYS TWICE IN SIX MONTHS. DID YOU EVER THINK YOU’D MAKE IT ONCE?

(Laughs) No, I think that's a bucket list item for so many people. It's funny because I didn't even know I was on it either time. I woke up at a normal time to my alarm to go to class, and I had texts on my phone, 'We saw you on SportsCenter! It was so cool!' But it's something that I never thought was going to happen. Not many people know what field hockey is. It's kind of in the shadows when you're looking at the sports community as a whole. So it's really interesting to be put on that. It’s definitely really cool. And both times Justin [Lafleur, senior assistant director, Lehigh sports communications] did a great job putting in for it. So a lot of credit to him for even getting me on there.

YOU WERE 10th, THEN 3rd. ARE YOU SHOOTING FOR SPORTSCENTER’S TOP PLAY THIS SEASON? THEY SAY THE THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM.

I can only make so much happen as to what comes down to me in the games. It's not like I could just get the ball and run with it. The ball has to come down to me. It has to be something crazy going on and me being able to have the ability to make a play on the ball. I hope so in the future that I'll be on it again, but no promises.

YOU WEAR NO. 78. ANY REASON?

There really isn't. I was 77 in high school and then 78 was one of my club jerseys. My club team kept reissuing jerseys and my number would change every single time. I was 32, then I was 2, then 82 and then I ended with 78 and just kind of liked it. I thought 77, the double sevens, was cool, but once I got to Lehigh, coach asked what number I wanted, and I picked 78. I ended my club career with it so I just figured I'd carry it with me into college.

YOUR NICKNAME IS MADAROO?

It's not really like everyone calls me that, it's more an endearment term my mom started using when I was younger. I don't know how she came up with it, but she's called me that ever since I was little. If you're ever at my games and I'm making a save, she'll scream it and she got some of the high school parents to catch on. When she couldn't make a game, then they would say it. And some of the games that she couldn't make in the spring [2021 season], she had the college moms also yell it from the stands. But it's not a nickname that's coined from anything cool. It's just my mom changing around my name as a term of endearment for me.

DO YOUR TEAMMATES HAVE A NICKNAME FOR YOU?

No, not really. When I first came to Lehigh there were four Maddies on the team so the upperclassmen called me ‘Kahn.’ But since they graduated or left, I'm just Maddie to everyone.

WHAT’S ONE FUN FACT MOST PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU?

I'm left-handed. … I also sailed competitively, which is fun. Not many people get to do that. I had a beach house, which is now my family's current house in Ocean City, New Jersey. I moved there my sophomore year, but I sailed more in middle school. We'd go to regattas, and I had my own little opti sailboat. I was okay at it, but I more like to do it leisurely and just kind of go out in the bay and float around out there.

YOU JUST GOT BACK FROM THE FIH WOMEN’S JUNIOR WORLD CUP IN SOUTH AFRICA. HOW WAS THAT EXPERIENCE?

It was awesome. It was my first opportunity to play internationally. I went to Germany with the U19s, and before our first game, I ended up tearing my meniscus. In South Africa, they put me in the first game versus Netherlands [the eventual champions] for the second half. They're an insane team, so much talent on that team. Hopefully I'll have more opportunities to do that. The U.S. team is great. I've known a lot of the girls for a while now. and just getting to spend that much time with them in such a different environment is a really cool experience for sure. … And just getting to say that I've been to South Africa, that I've been to Africa, is crazy. And getting to interact with other teams at the tournament is really cool as well.

Maddie Kahn

Maddie Kahn ’23 was named Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Year as a sophomore.

HOW DID THE U.S. TEAM FINISH?

We ended up coming in eighth. We finished second in our pool to the Dutch. Then in our semifinal we played England [which finished third overall], where we lost 2-1, and that bumped us down to playing in the fifth to eighth place classification. And then we had to face a really strong Argentinian team, where we ended up losing 2-0. And then our last game, the seventh and eighth place game, we were upset by South Africa 3-2.

LEHIGH FIELD HOCKEY HAD ITS FIRST WINNING SEASON IN ALMOST 30 YEARS. HOW DID IT FEEL BEING THE GOALKEEPER?

It's definitely an exciting feeling to get some buzz around our program and have other people start to notice and kind of take Lehigh more seriously as a field hockey school. Each win that we got, we really had to fight for. There wasn't a single game that we went into thinking we were automatically going to win that game. We didn’t take anything for granted, we had to work for every single win that we got. Putting that all together and totaling the 11 wins that we had is definitely a great thing to look at. If you look at the past three years that I've been here, it shows that there's been a lot of progress in such a short amount of time.

IS THERE EXTRA EXCITEMENT FOR NEXT SEASON? HAVE YOU TALKED ABOUT BUILDING ON THAT MOMENTUM?

Yeah, there's definitely been talk about it. I think any team wants to continue their success, and I think we're no exception to that. Just doing what we can to repeat that effort and improve upon it is definitely something that is going to be a goal for us. We know it's not going to be easy. I mean, if it took 30 years to [achieve a winning season], it's a pretty tough challenge for our team, but we're definitely looking forward to it. No one likes to lose. No one wants to lose. I don't like losing. So for sure that's definitely going to be one of our goals.

WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT THE LEHIGH FIELD HOCKEY PROGRAM?

Definitely the team. We have a really great team right now. We all enjoy each other and our company, which I don't think is something that the program could say they had in the past. Every single girl on the team is there for a reason and has a role on the team. We're all comfortable with one another and can have a good time whether it's on the field or off the field.

WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT LEHIGH AS A UNIVERSITY?

The Le-Laf rivalry. My dad actually went to Lafayette, so there's been a lot of poking and teasing in our household about it. That's the best part because it brings my family into the school as well, which is something that’s really cool. Le-Laf week is so fun. Watching the football game is fun, and the rivalry in the field hockey programs, with Lehigh and Lafayette, is just so awesome. Laf is always a great team, and it's always such a close game with them. When the game is like it was this past season, Friday night under the lights and winning off a stroke is just like a storybook ending and something that you picture.

Story by

Stephen Gross

Photography by

Christa Neu

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