CUMBERLAND – Her given name is Channing Cavanaugh Hodgkins, but she’s better known as CeCi, a unique spelling of her first two initials. And in a way, that’s fitting.

Because CeCi Hodgkins is not your ordinary field hockey player — or student for that matter.

On any given day, she is the smallest player on the field, standing about 5-foot-1. On any given day, she is also the most dangerous player on the field.

Her presence is one of the reasons that Greely High enters the 2011 season with high expectations. The Rangers lost to perennial contender York in the Western Class B championship game last year.

With Hodgkins, who scored 13 goals and three assists, leading a veteran returning cast, the Rangers look to push the Wildcats — who have won five of the last six regional crowns — once again.

“I think we’re going to do great,” said Hodgkins, who also plays ice hockey. “We have big goals in mind and we want to take it one step further and get to the state game. Already this preseason, everyone is going the extra mile, even the freshmen who don’t know what it’s like to be in a Western Maine championship.

“We’re just all giving it our all and doing everything we can because we know it will pay off in the long run.”

Her coach, Kristina Lane Prescott, knows that Hodgkins will do whatever she can to help the Rangers success. It’s just that sometimes, she has to rein in Hodgkins.

“She always wants to know what she has to do to be better,” said Prescott. “Sometimes I tell her to not think so much, just trust herself. She’s always trying so hard to be the best she can be. Sometimes, I’ve told her, you just have to trust your ability and have fun.”

But trying to become better is simply part of who Hodgkins is. Her quest for improvement doesn’t end on the field. In class, she is also asking one more question, seeking one more answer.

“She’s very question-oriented, I’d say,” said senior forward Eliza Porter. “She sometimes jokes about all the questions she asks, but it’s not always just for herself. It’s for everyone else. She asks questions to help everyone improve.”

That’s another thing about Hodgkins: she loves to help others. She spends weekends during the field hockey season coaching in the town’s youth program. And if you’re having a problem with math, well, she’s the person to see. Not only does she do well in math, but she wants to be a math teacher (and field hockey coach) when she gets out of college.

“I love the look on the face of people when they finally understand something,” said Hodgkins, who thanks her parents and siblings for helping her become the player that she is. “And knowing that I helped them get to that point makes me feel like I accomplished something. I just really like helping others learn something new.”

She especially feels proud when she sees some of this year’s crop of freshmen — some of whom she coached in the youth program — do something special on the field.

“It’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, I taught you how to do the spin dodge, or the flick,’ ” said Hodgkins. “It makes it some much more personal. I just love teaching new things.”

And she’s a very good teacher.

“She has great game sense,” said Prescott. “She understands the game inside and out. I can put her anywhere on the field and she becomes a leader and she knows what’s expected of her. And that’s important.”

Hodgkins is typically a forward but often plays in the midfield, depending on the game situation.

No matter where she plays, she is difficult to contain. After scoring two goals as a freshman, she tallied six goals and an assist as a sophomore. Then she blossomed last year into the Rangers’ top threat.

When asked how to stop Hodgkins, Greely junior back Brittany Rogers said it isn’t easy.

“Well, she’s small, so she gets low really well,” said Rogers. “She’s a strong player and you can’t really figure out what she’s going to do. So you have to be ready at all times to stop her. Sometimes you can, sometimes you can’t.”

According to Hodgkins, it’s all about desire.

“I was taught in middle school to be very aggressive,” she said. “Every ball is 50-50, but you need to do everything you can to make it your ball.”

Of course, being pretty fast helps. Often she simply runs dribbles the ball past the defense.

“Speed helps in so many ways,” said Hodgkins. “You need your endurance, you need quick feet and you need speed. You can win a game by out-running the other team.”

And as far as being, well, short in stature. Hodgkins considers that an advantage.

“Size doesn’t matter,” she said. “Last year we had T-shirts made for the playoffs, each one with a saying on the back. Mine was, ‘Size doesn’t matter.’ And it doesn’t. You can do whatever you want out on the field. It’s your game.”

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH