Kristi Kehoe has been the director of player development for the New England District for USA Hockey for nine years.
Kristi Kehoe's mother had a simple question for her daughter when the family brought her to Northeastern University in 2007. "You're never coming home, are you?"
For 16 years the answer was no. However, things changed this summer when Kehoe was hired to become the Lady Ducks' hockey director.
"Twelve years after graduating, I'm coming home," Kehoe said. "I'm honored to be in this role. I know all of the effort (former director) Kathy (McGarrigle) and Hutch (Rick Hutchinson) put into it."
Kehoe was a standout player for Northeastern. She scored 88 points (45 goals) in 135 games for the Huskies. She caught the program's attention with a stellar career in the early 2000s for the AAA Cal Selects.
Her hockey experience tracked (roughly) with the time frame of the LDs, now 24 years old, getting their grass-roots program rolling.
From Northeastern, Kehoe built a 12-year coaching resume at the Division I and III levels, most recently as Lindenwood's associate head coach.
It was there she coached LDs coach Lilly Marchant for a season.
"I've known their family for quite some time," Kehoe said. "Caroline (Marchant, the LDs' general manager) does a great job getting the girls exposure to colleges."
Kehoe also coached at the LDs' annual college camp.
"I always had these connections to the program even though I never played for it," she added.
Kehoe, who also has served as the Director of Player Development for the New England District of USA Hockey for nine years, has specific goals in mind for the LDs.
"I want this to be the program in the West where people want to come play," she said. "Not only do I get to come home, but I considered the opportunity for an impact on the growth of the girls' game and hockey in general that is here.
"I want to take what we have now and make it as elite as possible. I want our top teams to be teams the AA players want to be part and approach development holistically. The younger girls will look up to the older girls because the older girls will be helping at their practices.
"We have the facilities, now we have to work on the development."
The Lady Ducks have a long history of team and individual success. The AAA program has qualified a team for the USA Hockey Nationals every year since 2006 and has won nine medals, including gold in 2007 at 12U AAA. In addition, more than 200 LDs have gone on to play college hockey at some level.
Kehoe described the hiring process as long, thorough and genuine.
"Everyone was super genuine about where the program is at and what they wanted it to be," Kehoe said. "They put their money where their mouth is.
"I met with everyone, and everyone seemed very committed to finding the right person. The fact the Ducks made this a full-time position showed me their level of commitment."
It was clear it's a great opportunity to grow girls hockey and hockey in general.
"It's so amazing to see the growth in California hockey," Kehoe said. "It's a lot different than when I played here. There are so many more resources.
"I was fortunate to have a variety of opportunities at higher levels of hockey. There are many coaches who made a huge impact on my life. I want to give back as they gave to me."