WINTHROP — Kim Stoneton would watch Winthrop High School field hockey games and she’d see all the blonde ponytails sprinting on the field. It would take a second to scan the numbers on jerseys and figure out which blonde ponytail was her daughter’s.

Which one was Kelsey?

“She loved it. She loved the sport,” Kim Stoneton said, minutes before Winthrop’s field hockey field was officially renamed Kelsey Ann Stoneton Memorial Field. “She was so dedicated.”

A blood clot in her lungs took Kelsey’s life on Aug. 2, 2014. She was 17.

A sign above the scoreboard carries Kelsey’s name. Below the scoreboard is her number, 8. Visitors to Kelsey Ann Stoneton Memorial Field are now greeted by a stone monument bearing her picture, and a quote attributed to Robby Novak that exemplifies how Kelsey lived her life. “Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.”

In the picture, Kelsey is playing field hockey, and she’s smiling. Of course she’s smiling. Her friends and family struggle to find a time Kelsey wasn’t smiling.

“It was big and bright, always,” her friend Gabby Mitchneck said.

Shauna Carlson, one of Kelsey’s Winthrop field hockey teammates, thought the photo of Kelsey on the monument may have been taken right after she scored her first goal as a freshman.

“The first time she scored a goal, the whole place lit up,” Carlson said.

“She made the worst practices some of the best with the things she said,” Alyssa Arsenault added.

In her brief time, Kelsey had a huge impact on her team, school and community. That was obvious from the crowd of a few 100 that came out for Wednesday night’s dedication. Keith Morin, Winthrop High’s principal, spoke of Kelsey’s volunteer work with special needs students, and the infectious enthusiasm Kelsey brought to everything she did.

Why dedicate the field to Kelsey, Morin asked?

“It is the most we can do and the least we can do,” he said.

To a person, the first thing everybody mentioned when asked about Kelsey was her smile. A teammate scored, and Kelsey smiled. If she was a minute late for practice because she was getting an iced coffee, Kelsey smiled. The new monument at the field bears #JUSTSMILE, as if anybody who knew Kelsey will ever need the reminder. For those who didn’t know her, the reminder is the grin Kelsey wears in the photo.

Jess Merrill, the Ramblers field hockey coach, recalled the times Kelsey burst into laughter after making a minor mistake on the field.

“She always broke the ice when things were super serious,” Merrill said. “This is someone truly special. Our motto is to play like (Kelsey), and now we always will.”

For Kelsey’s teammates, her smile went hand in hand with her unselfishness, on and off the field.

“She always supported everybody, no matter how they played,” Julie McConnell said. “We hope she’s watching down on us, and we make her proud.”

After the Stoneton family unveiled the monument, Kelsey’s father, Joel Stoneton, placed a single white carnation atop it.

“I just remember being proud to witness the things she did when she didn’t think people were watching,” Joel Stoneton said.

A few weeks before she died, Kelsey was excited to attend a family reunion, but she had been elected a field hockey team captain and told her mother she’d have to miss the reunion to join her team for a workout.

“She said ‘mom, I was voted captain. I feel like I should go,'” Kim Stoneton said. “She’s a great role model for other kids.”

The dedication start time was getting closer, and more and more friends arrived and approached Kim for a hug. She looked at the field that now carries her daughter’s name.

“I’m still wrapping my head around it,” she said. “How many people have a field named after them? This is forever.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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