Captain Awesome

Andie Anastos

Focused and determined, Andie Anastos prepares for the night. It is a routine she has done many times before—donning the uniform, putting the helmet that will conceal her identity (for the most part) on last. Nearly every inch of her body is protected by a thick padding. Everything is put on the left side first, then she moves to the right. She ties her hair up in a bun at the base of her neck. Anastos has been taken down and pushed around before, so she isn’t too worried about tonight. At 5-foot-9, she’s not someone who just falls over. She’s ready for any enemy who might get in her way.

As much as she would like to, Anastos is not finishing off her uniform with a red cape or shiny boots—not even underwear over slick tights. And as much as she would like it to, her night doesn’t entail fighting crime with her favorite superhero, Batman. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have important work to do. It doesn’t even mean she’s not a superhero herself.

Unlike Batman, Anastos is, in fact, wearing hockey pads. Anastos is the two-time captain of Boston College women’s hockey—tough enough to balance with the stresses of senior year, let alone the pressure of winning 40 straight games last season under the leadership of phenom Alex Carpenter. The enemy is not as clear-cut as the Joker or the Penguin. In hockey, it’s every team that poses a threat to a spotless record. Anastos wants to face all of them.

Turn open the cover, to the first page of Issue No. 1 of Captain Awesome.

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Anastos looks like she should be wearing gym shorts and high tops instead of a bulky hockey sweater and pads, like her older sister did at Northwood University. She started skating when she was about 5 years old, and playing hockey followed soon after. Her father, Tom, had played hockey at Michigan State and spent one year in the minor league system of  the Montreal Canadiens. Tom coached his daughter for years on her travel club team, HoneyBaked, along with three other Eagles—Megan Keller, Haley McLean, and Tori Sullivan. Tom taught her one of the most important lessons when it comes to being an athlete, one that she takes to heart to this day.

“After every single practice I would come home from,” Anastos said, “he would always ask me, ‘Were you working hard when the coach wasn’t watching?’”

Anastos carried that through both sports she played, but more so on the court. She felt more at home with a ball in her hands than a stick. She picked up basketball at around the same age she learned to skate, and her position as a point guard came to her naturally. Again playing with Keller in their town recreational league, Anastos found comfort in her role and thrived as well on her high school team, the Ladywood Blazers.

The parallels between hockey and basketball aren’t always obvious. Hockey is more technically difficult because of the added challenge of skating, and basketball usually doesn’t get as aggressive as the roughhousing that can occur on the ice.

But Anastos finds a common thread through her role as a center. The point guard sets up the offense and acts as the voice between the defense and the offense. On the ice, Anastos screams as loud as she can to drive plays to the opposing team’s net. Breathing hard when she gets to the bench, she often asks if the players can hear her out there, to which they usually say no. So she screams louder the next time. The biggest similarity for her is a fake screen in basketball, which translates well to hockey. By pretending to pass the puck back to a player behind her, she splits the defense and goes right up the rest of the ice with it, putting it in the twine.

Basketball teams at nearby colleges in Michigan recruited Anastos, as did hockey programs. But for Anastos, this wasn’t something she had on her radar. Her U-14 team had gotten a tour of BC from assistant head coach Courtney Kennedy, who entertained Anastos with her jokes. But she was still in the mindset that she was better at basketball. Her interest was piqued again when her good friend McLean signed with the Eagles, when Anastos was a junior. Soon after, her U-16 coach at HoneyBaked told her that BC might be interested in her while the team was in Boston for a tournament, so she walked around campus with her family and had a meeting with the coaches. They asked her to think about it and take her time, but after going to lunch with her family later in the day, she called them. She was coming to BC. It was all the time she needed.

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Head coach Katie Crowley will tell you that Anastos doesn’t get the credit she deserves.

Crowley has been watching her since she was playing for HoneyBaked U-14. To her, Anastos represents a consistency that other programs disregard. Unlike other recruits, Anastos doesn’t stand out for her speed, skating, or shooting. But Crowley doesn’t believe that you need to excel in a particular category to be a great player. Anastos, according to Crowley, is unique in her ability to “do things the right way,” whether it means communicating with the defense or collaborating with the offense. There is a steadiness to Anastos’s play that makes her reliable, and incredibly valuable to any hockey team.

Anastos admits that she doesn’t have the style of play that makes her immediately enticing in the recruiting process. She’s no Alex Carpenter, chasing down the puck every time for another goal. Nor is she a Kenzie Kent type, fast from playing both hockey and lacrosse. Though both Carpenter and Haley Skarupa encouraged Anastos to take more shots, she’s just the type of person who looks for a pass instead of an opportunity for glory.

But that isn’t to say Anastos doesn’t have individual accomplishments. And it definitely doesn’t mean she hasn’t made her fair share of goals. A quick look at her stats shows that Anastos is the definition of steady—she’s scored 14 goals in each of her last three seasons. She also knows how to make it count—she’s tied for ninth all-time as an Eagle for game-winning goals, with nine. Always looking for that next opportunity to help someone out, she notched 23 assists last season. Perhaps most importantly, she keeps herself on the ice at all costs. Despite playing in all 41 games, Anastos landed in the penalty box just one time—Oct. 3, 2015, against the University of Minnesota Duluth. She rarely creates problems, but is most often part of the contingent that solves them.

Off the ice, it’s much of the same. Anastos is willing to do whatever it takes to keep her team happy. Even when it’s faced with the biggest loss of its whole season—the NCAA National Championship.

BC had lagged in the beginning of the game against powerhouse University of Minnesota—the Golden Gophers got a goal only 13 seconds into the finals. With less than half of the third period left to play, there was a glimmer of hope. Keller passed the puck up to Anastos, who dished it over to Makenna Newkirk for a goal.

The Eagles had given it their all in the last few minutes, but still lost. It was the hardest game in most of the players’ careers. Skarupa struggled to come out of the locker room for the last time, and Carpenter, usually unreadable, had tear streaks on her face. But someone needed to head to the media suite and address the game to the press—even when teams win, most players don’t want to do that.

Anastos knew it would be most difficult for her teammates to face all of those people. So when she was asked, she went. She sat under the lights next to Crowley, expressing her disappointment in the final game.

She doesn’t look back on that moment with dread. She remembers it as a last chance to praise the seniors for taking the team so far. Anastos recalls it like a true captain would.

“I felt honored to be able to do that and step up,” Anastos said. “I wouldn’t want to have someone else do that.”

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 Anastos loved Suicide Squad. Sure, it has a 26 percent on, but as a lover of superheroes and comic books, Anastos is confident in her appreciation for the film. And say what you will about whether he’s a superhero or just a wealthy vigilante, Anastos strives to be like her hero, Batman.

“He doesn’t do anything for the glory of it,” she said. “People think he’s a myth and he’s not real, and he just does it for the good of the city.”

So does Anastos—except, instead of Gotham, it’s the Eagles of Chestnut Hill. Her personality brings people together. Even though they are separated by hundreds of miles, her father feels the same way.

“When she’s home for the summer, she makes our house better,” he said.  

Her teammates laugh at the mention of her, especially her obsession with Batman. There is no one more adored on that team, from players young and old. In fact, it’s made her a superhero, too.

“She’s the most fun person on the team, but also if I were in trouble or anything, she is the first person,” Serena Sommerfield said. “She’s just Captain Awesome.”

Featured Images by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

Shannon Kelly

Shannon Kelly is the assistant features editor. One day she'd like to get paid to be funny instead of being funny for free for this newspaper or on Twitter @ShannonJoyKelly. (The irony of her middle name is not lost on her.)

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