Student-Athlete Of The Month: Keegan Clifford

Severna Park Ice Hockey


Almost anywhere you’d encounter Severna Park senior Keegan Clifford, he’s likely to smile, be polite, and maybe even serve you.

Almost anywhere.

On the ice, Clifford is just as likely to cancel you out and keep his goalkeeper clean. Even if he might have to spend a couple of minutes in the penalty box to do it.

“You have to make it clear to the other team that they can’t walk up (to the goal),” said the right-sided defenseman and one of the captains on Severna Park’s Maryland Student Hockey League (MSHL) team, which reached the 2024 state quarterfinals. “If they think they can, and if they can, your goalie’s going to have a terrible game. If they get to rack up 60 shots from the center of our zone, we’re losing the game. You have to sometimes take some of those penalties because four on five is better than one on the goalie.”

Sacrificing in the name of the team isn’t a foreign concept to Clifford. Not by a long shot.

In addition to his on-ice duties the last several years, Clifford is heavily involved in the Naval Junior ROTC, which operates out of Annapolis High School. He’s the chapter’s No. 1 cadet, directly or indirectly responsible for nearly 100 fellow cadets in his chain of command.

That includes facilitating volunteer hours — they have amassed nearly 3,500 — and anything else the NJROTC chapter does outside of normal meeting hours, as well as looking after the cadets under his charge. It’s not an easy task, but Clifford relishes getting to the other cadets and helping them navigate the program.

“The biggest challenge is making time to try and get to know every single person at a level beyond a name. You have to understand someone to try to lead them to something better or bigger than all of you,” Clifford said. “Trying to manage all the other things you do while actually trying to get to know and support those who are subordinate to you, that’s a big challenge. You can’t just manage them; you have to know them, because then you build trust and they are willing to go further for you.”

Building camaraderie in NJROTC, on the ice for Severna Park’s MSHL team, volunteering to the tune of 750-plus hours in veteran and environmental sectors, carrying a 4.45 GPA and pursuing SCUBA certification is a lot for anyone. But Clifford has learned to take it all in stride and hyper-focus on compartmentalization.

“I section out my days and what I’m going to focus on that day, and especially my weeks,” Clifford said. “We have playoffs, so I let everyone (at NJROTC) know that these two weeks, don’t ask me for much. I’ve got to take care of this because my team needs me for these two weeks. It’s time management and communication: just let everyone know the situation, even if it’s not ideal.”

For his future aspirations, Clifford hopes to gain admission to the U.S. Naval Academy, though he has an ROTC scholarship waiting for him at the University of Virginia should his future not include time on the Yard. He also hopes to dive the Devil’s Den in Florida — he prefers cave diving to ocean diving.

“It’s a very different environment than where most people think of diving,” he said. “It’s a huge passion of mine. I would love to go to Navy dive school, but that probably won’t happen. I love being underwater. I love the water.”


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