Many of Lindsay Holdcroft’s (D ’14 MED ’21) favorite memories of growing up in Pittsburgh, PA, revolve around playing sports, especially hockey. Part of a close-knit, athletic family, it was natural for her to get an early start.
“I was in the middle (age-wise) between two brothers, so that was always a lot of fun growing up—when my older brother started playing hockey, that made me really want to play, as well,” recalls the first-year Geisel student, who started skating at age two and joined her first team (coached by her dad) at age eight.
When no one signed up to play goalie, Holdcroft, who had some experience with the position, was quick to volunteer. “My older brother used to put me in street hockey equipment in our driveway and would just fire the street hockey pucks at me—I really liked it,” she explains.
But her dad, who wanted all of the kids to try it, was hesitant. “I remember him saying, ‘You don’t want to be the goalie,” and I was like, ‘Yeah, I think I really do,’” she says, laughing. “After that, he couldn’t say ‘no.’ We got some used goalie equipment, and I even slept with my goalie glove.”
As she grew older, Holdcroft’s talent, skill, and passion for the position more than compensated for her relatively small size (5’ 4”) and allowed her to stand out in what was then a predominately male sport. While at North Allegheny Senior High School, she played two years of varsity boys’ hockey—starting as goaltender and earning many accolades as one of the top female athletes in the Pittsburgh area. She also competed in cross country and spring track while at Allegheny and excelled in the classroom.
Holdcroft’s interest in science and medicine began early; she initially wanted to be a veterinarian. “We always had animals growing up, so that was something I was really drawn to,” she says. “Later, my interest shifted more to becoming a physician, because of the opportunity I felt it would give me to work with people and develop relationships with them.”
While she had a strong desire to play hockey at the next level, Holdcroft’s approach through the college recruiting process was to “find a place that felt like the best fit for me academically, and then if hockey worked out that would be great,” she recalls.
Her decision to attend Dartmouth College as a student-athlete ended up working out beautifully. While she chose a premed track with a dual major in biology and psychology, Holdcroft fully enjoyed her liberal arts classes, following her parents’ advice to keep her options open. But an internship experience during her junior year—working with patients in recovery education at the Johns’ Hopkins Adult Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program in Baltimore, MD—affirmed her desire to pursue medicine.
During her time at Dartmouth, Holdcroft also had a stellar career on the ice for the Big Green women’s hockey team. By the end of her senior year, she ranked first in program history in games played, minutes played and saves, while finishing near the top all-time in wins, save percentage, goals-against average, and shutouts.
“It was an amazing four years—I had wonderful teammates and coaches and learned so much,” she says. “While hockey was a huge time commitment, it definitely complemented my Dartmouth experience, and it helped me develop skills in key areas like time management and leadership.”
Instead of applying to medical schools immediately after graduating, Holdcroft decided to pursue a job in research, landing a position at Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering. “I wanted to take a break from being a student for a while and gain some experience in a new area that would also help inform my medical career,” she explains.
Working in the joint retrieval program at the Dartmouth Biomedical Engineering Center at Thayer, she collaborated with surgeons, manufacturers, researchers, and patients to help determine why some artificial joints fail. “It’s an incredible program that really serves as an early warning system for the industry, while providing information on how they can be designed to work better in patients,” explains Holdcroft, who got to conduct research projects evaluating plastic and metal components used in hip implants.
After three years away from school, she felt excited and ready to be a student again. “Geisel was a place I really wanted to be—from everything I’d heard and learned at Dartmouth, I thought it would be a very collaborative and supportive place to go to medical school,” she says. “So far, it’s definitely fulfilled all those expectations.”
Also important to her was the opportunity to participate in Geisel’s Rural Health Scholars program. “Having lived in the Upper Valley for the last seven years, I’m very interested in the healthcare challenges that rural communities face, especially in behavioral health,” says Holdcroft, who can see herself practicing as a rural community physician in New Hampshire or Vermont someday, perhaps in primary care or psychiatry.
Her favorite activities outside the classroom include trail running, hiking, and coaching youth hockey. “Since I stopped playing hockey here, I’ve been coaching a U12 (ages 10-12) team for the Hanover Hockey Association,” says Holdcroft, who has also conducted goalie clinics for the organization.
“To be honest, I wasn’t sure I would enjoy coaching. Some people say it makes them miss playing. But I’ve really loved it, especially working with this age group—the girls are so receptive and enthusiastic.
“It’s been a lot of fun teaching them skills and seeing them improve,” she says. “And it’s been rewarding to see them develop and gain confidence in themselves, both on and off the ice.”