Oct. 29, 2009

By Amy Farnum

There’s no doubt that the University of North Carolina field hockey senior class will soon forget all they have accomplished over the last four years, but junior goalkeeper Jackie Kintzer captured those memories on canvas by painting a portrait of each player for a Senior Day surprise last weekend.

Although their final regular season game at Henry Stadium – a 4-1 setback to top-ranked Maryland on Oct. 24 – might have been a moment the group of six seniors may want to put out of their minds, Kintzer’s gift presentation after the contest are sure to be appreciate for years to come.

Seniors Melanie Brill, Illse Davids, Danielle Forword, Riley Foster and Brianna O'Donnell, as well as Casey Burns, who is a junior in eligibility but will graduate in May, all received the action-based portraits from Kintzer.

“I came in with a lot of them four years ago and ended up redshirting, so I feel like I should be graduating with them or they should be staying another year with me,” said Kintzer.  “I wanted to do something extra special for them that they could keep with them forever to cherish the memories.”

The group has been a part of three NCAA appearances, and members of the 2007 NCAA and Atlantic Coast Conference championship squad.   This season, the second-ranked Tar Heels were perfect until the loss to the Terrapins last week and had put together an ACC record-tying nine consecutive shutouts during the year.

Kintzer, a redshirt junior from Robesonia, Pa., ranks second in the nation with a 0.65 goals against average, but her talents do not stop with field hockey.  A studio art major, Kintzer is taking an Advanced Painting independent study course, and when she needed to come up with a theme for a series of paintings, she did not need to look far.

“I wanted to combine field hockey and art because a lot of people in the art world know nothing about field hockey and vice versa,” said Kintzer.  “I decided to paint the seniors in some of their best action shots that best represent them and how I think of them.  I tried to show all of the emotion and action in a game and what it feels like to be in a game in the paintings.”

Kintzer used a palette knife to do most of the painting, but used a brush for the details of her teammates’ faces as she gathered inspiration from action photographs taken throughout their careers.  She says the portraits are a combination of both abstract and realism.

Despite the fact the paintings were a class requirement Kintzer says they were a labor of love.

“I was very particular with the way I made them,” said Kintzer.  “For example, I redid Illse’s face about five times because I wanted it to look just right.  I wanted them to love them.  The whole time I was painting them, it felt like I wasn’t doing work at all.  I put lots and lots of hours into them, but it didn’t feel like work.  If you do something you enjoy, you don’t work a day in your life.”

Kintzer was thrilled with the group’s reaction when she unveiled the paintings – there were a lot of thank yous, but some players were speechless.

“I had them wrapped and they saw them in the locker room before the game,” said Kintzer.  “I didn’t want them to look at the paintings until after the game so they could enjoy looking at them instead of having to worry about the game.  I wanted it to be a special moment for them and how much I appreciated being with them for the last four years.”

Kintzer aspires to be an art teacher when she graduates next year, but first she has another year ahead in front of the Tar Heels’ goal.  

“I would love to teach other people, especially kids, how to do what I do and how to find the creative side of themselves,” said Kintzer.  “Everyone has it in them -- it’s just a matter of someone else believing in them to bring it out.”

North Carolina concludes the regular season at Old Dominion on Oct. 31, before heading to the ACC Tournament in Charlottesville, Va., on Nov. 5-8.