SALEM — When athletes are playing their best and having fun, they sometimes look like they’re playing in thier own back yard.
Marblehead senior Brittany Smith is one of the few players that can make that cliche work on a hockey rink.
The Lady Headers’ lone senior comes to the team from Manchester Essex, and honed her skills skating on a homemade ice surface in her yard. She was probably skating before she could talk.
“It’s funny, we were just watching home videos the other day. I think I was three. I might have been two,” said Smith, after notching a hat trick in Marblehead’s 3-3 tie with Chelmsford at Salem State’s Rockett Arena on New Year’s Day.
Smith grew up skating with her older brother, Cam, who was a standout for Rockport’s co-op boys program and is now playing junior hockey before heading to college. Three years ago, Marblehead expanded their co-op to include Manchester Essex, and the middle Smith was elated to be able to experience high school hockey.
“It was so exciting,” Smith said. “Freshman year I had to play basketball. I wasn’t so good.
“It’s been great getting to play high school hockey. The cool thing about playing for Marblehead is you get a whole new group of friends. It’s been a different experience from fall (club) hockey all together.”
The Lady Headers certainly got a gem in Smith, who has played defense, wing and center at various times over her two-plus seasons with the team. She started out as a defenseman, moved up to wing over the course of last season, and is now playing her natural position of center on Marblehead’s top line.
“I’ve always been a forward with my fall team with girls, but I played defense when I played with boys growing up, so I was comfortable there too,” said Smith, who was an All-Cape Ann League player for Manchester Essex’s highly successful field hockey team. She hopes to play ice hockey in college, though.