Freshman Kathleen Kennedy stood on the tennis court at the Webster Groves Tennis Center during a March 29 match against Missouri Baptist University. She caught sight of a taunting article of clothing from the stands — a St. Louis Blues jersey, worn by her teammate Lindsey Hays’ boyfriend.
“He wore that jersey just to get at me,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy, a marketing and advertising major from Tinley Park, Ill., is a die-hard NHL fan. She’s been going to see the Chicago Blackhawks play since she was in the fourth grade. Kennedy’s devotion to the team made the transition to Webster University a bit of a shock for her, as she suddenly found herself in Blues territory.
“At first I didn’t know what to think,” Kennedy said. “Back home, everyone was giving me crap (for moving to St. Louis).”
At Webster, no one takes more digs at Kennedy’s Blackhawks than Hays, a junior graphic design major. Hays grew up in St. Charles and started attending Blues games in high school. She met Kennedy on a weekend recruitment visit, and the two quickly became friends.
“I knew I’d be friends with her from her (campus) tour,” Hays said. “She seemed down to earth and relatable. Ever since I found out she was a Blackhawks fan, I’ve given her crap. It’s so much fun.”
In her role as an upperclassman, Hays has acted as a mentor for Kennedy. Tennis is a family tradition in the Hays household. Her father played tennis all his life and even met Hays’ mother through tennis.
Tennis stuck with Kennedy after she played several sports growing up. She started to play tennis in high school through a family friend who became her coach. When Kennedy received a recruitment letter from women’s tennis coach Michael Siener, she wasn’t anticipating the hockey rivalry she’s developed with Hays.
“It gets kind of nasty with the trash talking, but I throw it back when I can,” Kennedy said. “It’s like a fun relationship. (Lindsey and I), we’re really good friends and teammates. We pretend to be mad at each other, but we’re not really.”
Hays and other members of the women’s and men’s tennis teams like to take jabs at Kennedy about the Blackhawks via text messaging. When Kennedy and Hays play at different times during a match, Hays said they each check their phones obsessively. They tease each other if the Blues or Blackhawks are playing.
“My boyfriend — he’s like my teammate in it — he texts (Kennedy) and gives her crap,” Hays said. “The boys join in, too. I usually have them on my side. She’s usually alone, fighting against us. But she goes right along with it and fights back. She’s from Chicago, so she’s pretty loud.”
Even the coaches have been drawn into the friendly fire. Siener is a Blues fan and has joined in on the joking from time to time. Women’s tennis assistant coach Martha Davis, who admits she is a Blackhawk fan with much less passion than Kennedy, said Kennedy doesn’t shy away from the competition with her teammates.
“Everybody knows that she’s a huge Blackhawk fan, and I am myself, so we kind of bond in that,” Davis said. “She makes it very known to everybody, so if the Blues win or something, they’ll always be giving her a hard time. If the Blackhawks win, she’ll be giving everyone a hard time.
“I guess I just kind of see Kathleen as having a rivalry with everybody because everyone likes the Blues so much, especially the boys team. But Kathleen is just very prideful and positive about supporting (the Blackhawks).”
On March 29, the Blackhawks beat the Blues in a game that Hays and Kennedy watched together at Buffalo Wild Wings after the Gorloks played a home match. The last time the teams met, Davis said Kennedy made a bet with her Blues-loving boyfriend, freshman Daniel DeVasto, a Webster men’s tennis player. The bet ended in embarrassment for Kennedy.
“They bet if the Blues won, then she’d have to wear a Blues jersey around campus,” Davis said. “And they won. Even our athletic director (Tom Hart) got to see her and give her a hard time.”
Hays and Kennedy both take their love of hockey to a level past fandom. Hays recently received a summer internship with the Blues. Hays said she got the call for an interview with the Blues after she searched for job opportunities on Google. Hays’ new position is a job that Kennedy said makes her both excited and jealous.
“That’s what I want to do,” Kennedy said. “I want to hopefully be an event coordinator for the Blackhawks or any NHL team. I actually would consider working for the Blues. As much as they are a big rival, the NHL is a great organization.”
Hays also hopes to continue her lifelong involvement in sports by starting a career with a sports team. In the past, Hays has interned for the Gateway Grizzlies, a Minor League Baseball team, and has experience both on the field and off as a team manager.
Now as an intern for the Blues, she hopes to reach her dream of staying involved in sports, even if that means going to Blackhawk territory.
“I wouldn’t mind (working for the Blackhawks),” Hays said. “If that was the only offer I had, I’d do it. I mean, I’d still be a Blues fan.”