Over the years, Anna Hurlbut of Cheshire High School has enjoyed countless visits to Quinnipiac University. His mother, aunt, uncle, and grandfather all attended college.
Hurlbut’s father works at QU. His grandparents retired and no longer worked there.
“It (QU) means a lot to my family,” Hurlbut said. “My grandparents worked there for 50 years. I used to go and help them.
On July 1, she announced her intention to extend the family legacy. Before starting her senior year, Hurlbut committed to playing football at QU.
“It always seems surreal. It’s been a dream of mine to play college football since I was a little girl,” Hurlbut said. “My family went to school and worked there (in Quinnipiac), but none of them played sports.”
Hurlbut looked to other schools, but QU was his focus. Dave Clarke coaches the Bobcats in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
“Receiving a (scholarship) offer from the coach was a dream come true,” said striker Hurlbut. “I wanted to stay close to home for college. My family has always supported me and they are happy because they can attend many of my matches.
“I’m so proud of her,” added CHS Women’s Soccer Head Coach Kylee McIntosh. “I’ve known Anna since she was eight, so seeing her committing to college and taking that pressure off feels good.”
Hurlbut will follow in the footsteps of 2015 CHS graduate Al Pelletier, who played as a forward for the Bobcats.
“I was a ball girl when she was on the high school team,” Hurlbut said. “(Teammate) Izzy (Dziura) and I were big fans of her.”
Hurlbut thanks McIntosh and Cheshire assistant Eric Rothbart for helping to answer questions from the academic process. After playing football at CHS, the coaches went on to compete at Marist College (New York) and Southern Connecticut State University, respectively.
“I know going to college is a huge step,” Hurlbut said. “It’s a lot more physically demanding, but I think Kylee and Eric prepared me as much as they could.”
Hurlbut started playing football at the age of 4, joining a league in Prospect.
“Ever since I was little my mum and dad said I wanted to be on the pitch kicking the ball around and running around,” Hurlbut recalled. “The love I have for the game has only grown ever since.”
At club level, she has also participated in Cheshire Soccer Club, Vale Soccer Club (formerly Academica Futebol Club) and Oakwood Soccer Club. She moved to Oakwood this year.
“I have the strongest relationship with the AFC people,” Hurlbut recalled. “I was nervous going to Oakwood, but I wouldn’t have traded (the experience) for anything. Everyone was so welcoming.
For CHS, Hurlbut has played a key role throughout his career. As a freshman, she moved on to college with classmates Gabby Tirado, Ella Crerar, and Helene Lopez.
The 2019 Rams went undefeated (7-0-1) in the Housatonic Division. CHS also won a game in the Southern Connecticut Conference and Class LL tournaments.
“It was a dream when I got on the team,” Hurlbut said. “I worked so hard.”
Due to the pandemic in 2020, the state tournament was canceled, but CHS reached the CSC Division A title game. In a defensive battle, the Rams fell 1-0 to Mercy.
“Playing in that game was an unreal feeling,” Hurlbut recalled. “Hopefully we get back there (SCC final) and win this year.”
Last autumn Hurlbut helped his side overcome adversity after Tirado broke his shin in a 4-1 win at Hamden. As Cheshire’s top scorer was ruled out for the remainder of the season, Hurlbut managed to bag nine goals and three assists.
“When it (Tirado’s injury) happened, it was heartbreaking,” Hurlbut recalled. “I knew I had to become a leader for Gabby. She would have done it for anyone else on the team.
The Rams made a run in the States, beating West Haven (1-0) and Glastonbury (2-1). In winning at Glastonbury, Cheshire overthrew the reigning LL Class champion.
“It was crazy. I don’t think a lot of people thought we could do it,” Hurlbut recalled. “We didn’t give up in that game. After the final whistle, I felt like to win a championship.
Last year, Hurlbut received All-Class LL and All-SCC First Team honors.
“I knew Anna still had the potential to be great,” McIntosh added. “It took him time to hone his skills.”
Hurlbut was sad to see 10 seniors graduate from last year’s squad, but she got to experience another special moment with Dziura and Lizzie DeMatteo. Teaming up from Feb. 19-21, the trio featured a top team (Southington Aftershock) with a 4-0 record in the 2022 Disney Presidents Day Soccer Tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida. Florida.
“It was the best way we could have ended it. We’ve dreamed of playing Disney since we were kids,” Hurlbut said. “Once we started winning games, we thought we could win anything.”
As goals for his senior season at CHS, Hurlbut said the Rams wanted to win the SCC title, make a run at the state championship and beat rival Amity.
“I’m really excited,” Hurlbut said. “I’m also sad about my senior year because I loved playing for Cheshire High School.”
She also wants the Rams to get shutouts for junior goaltender Sophie Bates. Last fall, Bates and the CHS defense had seven shutouts.
“I love Soph so much,” Hurlbut said. “His confidence grew as the season (2021) progressed. She worked hard and I think it will show this year.
After Tirado missed the majority of her junior season, Hurlbut is thrilled to team up with her at the top again.
“Gabby has been my best friend since moving to Cheshire,” Hurlbut said. “We connect so well on the pitch.”
While competing in the summer league, Hurlbut likes the way the Rams integrate young players into the team. Her younger sister Grace returns for her second season this fall.
“I have a different bond with everyone. They’re teammates, but they’re also my sisters,” Hurlbut explained. “They’re there to keep me motivated and make me a better player.”
McIntosh enjoyed seeing Hurlbut’s progress as a player and a person.
“Anna reaches out when she needs help with football and life,” McIntosh said. “She takes what you say and goes with it.”
“She (McIntosh) is an incredible role model,” added Hurlbut. “I’ve always admired her.”
While football is his favorite sport, Hurlbut has shown versatility for the Rams. She has been playing basketball since freshman year and also competed in lacrosse for two seasons.
Last winter, CHS women’s basketball recorded its highest win total (10) in seven seasons.
“I’ve always played three sports,” Hurlbut said. “Some people say I’m crazy, but I like to be active and play with friends.”