Herborg Rut Geirsdottir: Icelandic Girls Ready to Take Gold Next Year

Photo taken by: Mats Bekkevold

Herborg Rut Geirsdottir is a 16 years old Icelandic girl who loves ice hockey. She works hard every day to improve her players skills. She lived in Iceland with her family until 2012, when they moved to Norway. They wanted to try something new; her parents got new job offers, and Herborg and her older sister got a chance to play better hockey on the new club.

Herborg’s days start with school classes, and in the afternoon she usually does her homework, goes out with her dog, and has hockey practice. If she doesn’t have a game during the weekend, she works at a store called Flying Tiger of Copenhagen, or she will have some practice.

Herborg Rut Geirsdottir

HOCKEY, SHOPPING  AND HANGING OUT WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS

Herborg is in a relationship with an amazing girl she met at the last World Championship. Although her girlfriend lives and plays in another country, they meet as often as they can. They are coming up on celebrating their first anniversary.

Besides hockey, Herborg loves to go shopping. She is also very interested in other sports. Her favorite soccer team is Liverpool and she also enjoys watching NHL games. She doesn’t have so much free time, but when she does, she likes to spend it with her family and friends.

‘My family was the main reason I started playing hockey.”

A HOCKEY FAMILY

I started playing hockey at the age of 5 or 6. My father has been also playing hockey for many years, as well as my older sister. Practically, my family was the main reason why I also started playing it. My friends were always very supportive of me and thought it was cool, but for me it was a bit hard not having them with me. I was often alone, and I didn’t have many friends on my team, although my teammates were really kind and friendly. Many of them are still my friends today. But, in those days I used to be very shy and not the best at opening up and starting a conversation.

THE BIG CHANGES ARE NEVER EASY

I grew up in a small Iceland town called Akureyri. It was also the place where I started practicing hockey, on the Skautafelag Akureyrar (SA) team. I had played there for several years,  until I moved to Norway in 2012.

So, currently I live in Norwegian town Fredrikstad, just 20 minutes away from the rink where I practice and play hockey. I am a member of the Sparta Warriors hockey team, along with my sister.

‘Currently, I am the captain of the A women’s team, and I’m very proud of it.”

I’M VERY PROUD OF BEING A CAPTAIN OF MY TEAM

A few years ago I played also for the Stjernen U15 and U16 team. But there I played with the boys, and didn’t get so well with the teams and coaches, so I decided to  come back to my previous club, Sparta. Currently I am the captain of the A women’s team, and I’m very proud of it. We compete in the highest Norwegian hockey league, the Elite Series, as well as play every season at the Norwegian Championship.

I’ve also played in the Regional team. For those who are not familiar with it, this is a team where girls from each region try out for the team and then play against other regions. I started playing there at the age of 12, the youngest age possible. This year was my last one.

‘We’re ready to take gold at the next World Championship.” Photo taken by: Mats Bekkevold

THE ICELANDIC TEAM – A GREAT FAMILY THAT WORKS TOGETHER

I’ve had a great honor to represent my country by playing for the senior Icelandic national women’s hockey team. I played my first games at the World Championship when I was 15, in 2017.

A few months ago, I also played for Iceland at the Worlds in Spain. Our team worked so hard, and we came with the great ambitions. Despite losing our head coach just 3 days before the Tournament, I think we did an awesome job.  Instead of being angry and disappointed, we chose to be focused on the game. Our new coach didn’t know how we played, but he did a great job, and helped  us in the best way he could. I still think we deserved to win the Tournament, but some things don’t always go our ways. The Icelandic team is a great family that works together. We’re ready to take the gold medal next year

‘The Icelandic hockey team is a great family that works together.”

THE MOMENTS I WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER

One of my favorite memories I’ve had while playing hockey was playing with the national team. For two weeks, I was inside my own world, and the only important thing was hockey, and nothing but hockey. The feeling before a game was very  special. I was nervous and shaking but also happy and enjoying it in every way.

I also remember a moment that happened recently, when I had been chosen to be in  on the All-Star Team. The best players were selected by the other teams of the Regional tournament, and I was so honored to be chosen as one. I was so surprised and so happy, it’s indescribable.

GOING BACK TO REALITY WAS PRETTY TOUGH

However, I remember leaving home to Norway after Worlds. Going back to reality was pretty tough. School, work, family and everyday life was awaiting me. The first weeks after coming home were very tough and hard for me. I was very emotional and had a hard time concentrating. I missed the team, the hockey and my teammates from Iceland. It’s always hard to leave them after having so much fun and time spent together.

‘It’s always hard to leave the team after so many time spent together”.

I REALLY LIKE THE PATH I’M ON NOW

I wouldn’t change anything in my past even if I had the chance. I really like the path I’m on now. Definitely, I wouldn’t be where I am now if it hadn’t passed through all my ups and downs, my mistakes and my achievements.

My future plans are just to work on my on and off ice skills, and to go as far as I possibly can as a hockey player. I hope I will keep on practicing as hard as I can and  try to become the best version of myself. I will keep fighting and being crazy on the ice. I won’t stop until I’ve made my highest possible level.

Chelsey Goldberg: Contract with Boston Blades – One of My Best Life Decisions

Chelsey Goldberg is a 25 year American professional hockey player. She was born and raised in Agoura Hills, California. Currently she’s living in Boston, pursuing her dreams of playing professional hockey. Chelsey used to play Division 1 college hockey at Northeastern University, also in Boston, for four years. After graduating, she decided to stay at NU and pursue a Masters degree. Furthermore, she signed a two-year professional hockey contract with the Boston Blades, in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. For her, it was one of the best decisions of her life.

Chelsey Goldberg

HOCKEY TAUGHT ME MANY LIFE LESSONS

Up until this past December (2017), she was working as an event manager at the University while she was completing her Masters Degree. Goldberg has recently graduated from her program, so she’s currently working on starting her own business. Her hockey career has not been easy by any means, but it has certainly taught her many life lessons and made her into a stronger and better person along the way. Therefore, her goal is to continue to help others, who may be facing adversity. This young lady would like to serve as a mentor, life coach, and/or motivational speaker to those who may be seeking help or advice.

LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST

In her free time Chelsey enjoys hanging out and catching up with friends, family, and her dogs. When the sun is shining, the beach is always calling her name. Most of her time outside of hockey or work involves the outdoors, hiking, finding a lake/pool, water sports, snowboarding in the winter. She adores just spending time with the most important people in her life.

She’s the one who makes memories and celebrates life.

FROM CALIFORNIA TO VERMONT

I started playing hockey at the age of 10. My mother was a swimmer, and my two older siblings (brother and sister) were soccer players. My twin brother and I played the typical California sports (soccer, lacrosse, swim, etc) growing up. Then we discovered roller hockey with some of our best friends. We were 10 years old when we attempted roller hockey. Two years after, we switched to play ice hockey, for the Ventura Mariners. I played guys hockey for a few years before switching to the girls side. Then I played with the LA Selects, Anaheim Lady Ducks, North American Hockey Academy in Stowe, Vermont, and eventually the Northeastern University Huskies in Boston, Massachusetts.

‘If you’re overcoming an injury, you’re not alone. It’s all part of the journey.”

THE EXPOSURE THAT EACH OF US WAS GIVEN WAS INCREDIBLE

I decided to move across country to Vermont for my junior and senior year of high school. I was offered a spot to play on one of most elite and competitive women’s hockey team in the country. It definitely took my game to another, higher level. We traveled to play at least four or five games every weekend, and the exposure that each of us was given was absolutely incredible. North American Hockey Academy and the Junior Women’s Hockey League no doubt helped me commit to Northeastern University. It also allowed me to successfully achieve my dream of playing college hockey. And, I am currently playing professional hockey for the Boston Blades in the CWHL.

While all completely worth it, the journey was not easy.

‘If I could take all my past problems back or do anything differently, I would do it all over again.”

DON’T LET ANYTHING STAND IN YOUR WAY

I happened to break both of my legs while I was in Vermont. My first fibula broke my junior year of high school, and my second fibula (almost a year to the day) broke my senior year, both playing the game that I love at one of the highest levels. I was out of competition for four years in a row, so junior year at NU was my first year being able to play again, and those years were truly some of the most difficult years of my life.

WHEN LIFE THROWS CHALLENGES AT YOU, JUST KEEP IN MIND THERE IS A REASON FOR THE ADVERSITY

My coaches, teammates, family, and friends helped me stay strong and believe that I would come back even faster, stronger and better. Fortunately I had already committed to play College Hockey at Northeastern University and my coach honored my scholarship. But, there were many life lessons to be learned. One of the most important ones that I can share is to never give up. When life throws challenges at you, just keep in mind there is a reason for the adversity. It will only make you a stronger and better person in the end. If I could take all my past problems back or do anything differently, I would do it all over again.

‘I’m a big believer in living in the present moment.”

MY GREATEST HOCKEY MEMORY – WINNING THE BEANPOT CHAMPIONSHIP

My best hockey memories have no doubt been shared with my amazing teammates and friends that I have met along the way. One of the greatest aspects to this game has been the people that have come and continue to make an impact in my life. Some of my life long friends have been made through hockey, and even becoming friends with opponents along the way makes the game so much more fun and enjoyable as well.

However, winning the Beanpot Championship, two years in a row while I was at Northeastern University is still one of my greatest hockey memories. For those of you who are not aware, the Beanpot Tournament is one of the biggest tournaments throughout college hockey, on both the men and women’s side. Harvard, Boston College, Boston University, and Northeastern University compete in a series to claim bragging rights as “Boston’s best team”. Hundreds to thousands of people come to cheer on their favorite team.

We happened to win my freshman and sophomore year. So, that was no doubt one of the coolest experiences to be a part of.

‘Believe in yourself, work hard and never give up!”

I’M A BIG BELIEVER IN LIVING IN THE PRESENT  MOMENT

Looking ahead isn’t much of a specialty of mine. I’m a big believer in living in the moment, and whatever life has in store for you will work itself out. My future right now consists of continuing to play hockey at the professional level. I’m also planning to continue growing my business and helping as many people as I can, being the best version of myself to others. I want to travel more, and I will eventually be moving back home to California.

My message to young players is to always have fun, before anything. If you’re not having fun, why are you playing? If you are facing adversity, overcoming an injury, or not sure how to deal with a difficult life situation or decision, you’re not alone and it’s all part of the journey. So, I would say trust the process and if you continue to believe in yourself, work hard and never give up, then whatever is meant to be will happen.

Nicolas Gaillard: A Story of My Little Pink Penguins

Nicolas Gaillard is a 47 years old French man who loves hockey. As a matter of fact, he made all his family be actively into it. Gaillard is a hockey coach, his son plays ice hockey on the HC Morzine-Avoriaz U11 team, and for the Ice Hockey Select HC 74. His wife Amandine is also involved in hockey, working as a team leader. An average day of the Gaillard’s family starts with hockey plans, practices and different sports activities, and ends with the hockey programs for the next day. They live for hockey, and this sport takes one of the most important places in their lives.

Nicolas Gaillard

 HOW A HOCKEY PLAYER HAS BECOME A COACH 

I started playing ice hockey 40 years ago and never really stopped until now. I played hockey actively for a long time, over 20 years, in my former hometown ice hockey association, in Poitiers, France. At that time, we played in the second French Division. 

After having my player’s career finished, I worked for a sport travel agency and used to travel across the world. The agency I’ve worked for was specialized in ice hockey events, like The Quebec international Pee Wee Tournament and others. Eight years after ending my players career, in 2012, I decided to come back to hockey. But, this time I chose to be on a bench of my former club, coaching younger players (5 to 13 year old), as well as the senior French Division 3rd Team.

The Skoda Arena in Morzine, France

I’m a licensed coach for the players under 13, and I’m actually working with the French Federation to get my DE diploma (which will enable me to coach the kids under 5, as well as the pro teams). 

AN ATTRACTIVE JOB OFFER

Three years ago, I quit my coaching job in Poitiers. One day, an actual Sports Manager from Morzine phoned me and asked if I was interested in working there, together with him. I was aware that Morzine was and still is a great ice hockey place in France, so his offer pleasantly surprised me. (Honestly, I’m still proud to be an active member of this organization, being able to actively participate in creating its sports history

They are always ready for the new challenges. – Nicolas Gaillard with his pink penguins

 THE ONLY MISSING PIECE WERE – PLAYERS

But at that time I was not sure if it would work and fit with the organization in Morzine. I was thinking of our lovely home village in the French Alps, as well as of an opportunity to work properly with the kids. The sport manager of our club Loïc Gaydon accepted to increase the number of the younger players. I knew we had stuff to make hockey and work drills fun for them. The only missing piece were – players.

So, we started visiting schools over here, animating the kids to start practicing hockey.  We even made some special events, together with the Town and Club Committee,  and the French Ice Hockey Federation. And finally – it worked. We gathered a lot of young kids interested in hockey, especially girls.

The Pink Penguins Team is the only one of that age in the French Ica Hockey Association

THE FIGHTERS IN THE PINK JERSEYS

We managed to gather little girls around the valley, and even from some other places nearby. There are girls of 4 different nationalities in our club: French, Serbian, Scottish and Welsh. Currently, we have 32 girls of different ages: the oldest was born in 2004, and the youngest one is 5 years old. The majority of them play on the U9 and U7 teams. Of course, some of them are playing for both selections.

Unfortunately, we are the only club in France having female players of that age, so we can play only against the boys, in a boys championship. But, occasionally our little fighters put their pink jerseys on, and compete  at some tournaments. Most often they are the only girls team there.

Nicolas Gaillard: ‘It was a long walk and fight for having all these girls in our club. My dream finally came true.”

Looking from this position, it was a long walk and fight for having all these girls in our club. I’d dreamed of that for a long time, and it finally came true. Now we have a lot of girls and parents here, and we are all a happy community that is growing and becoming stronger every day. 

THE MOMENTS I GLADLY REMEMBER

While working and playing with my pink penguins, I had a lot of precious moments and unforgettable memories. These young fighters always make my day better and completely fulfilled. We laugh a lot and feel great whenever we win or score a goal. I always gladly remember the moment when I’d shown the girls their brand new jerseys. I saw a pride in their eyes, and it was an amazing feeling.  The very first moment when they all together jumped on the ice as a team, during an U9 tournament in our rink, the Skoda Arena is something that I will also never forget.

‘I always gladly remember the moment when I’d shown the girls their brand new jerseys. I saw a pride in their eyes, and it was an amazing feeling.”

One of my dearest memories is the first goal scored by our team, by Mina, a little Serbian player. As far as I know, her mother was a skier, competing 4 times for Serbia at Olympics.

IT IS NOT EASY TO SEE OUR GIRLS BEING CRUSHED

Of course, it is not easy for anyone of us to see our girls being crushed. I feel very bad in these situations, but eventually I try to make some lessons from it, and turn it to the brighter side of life. They are young and they get so disappointed whenever they lose a game. But, they listen to the coaches and team managers, and always try to be better in the next game. I truly believe they will be a great team one day. And I hope they will perform as a team at the U7-U9 Tournament in Annecy, in May 2018.

Anyway, the best feeling ever is the fire in the eyes of my teams when they come out of the locker room, like an army in the battle mode. But it’s still a game, isn’t it ?  🙂

 A DREAM OF BEATING A BOYS’ TEAM

In my future, I’m planning to continue to work with kids, both boys and girls, and develop their skills and hockey mind. We have a lot to do, but every day is a new opportunity to be better than the day before. One of my dreams is to finally beat a boys’ team with my pink penguins, and I’m completely sure it is not far away. So, dear boys, you should  watch out.

‘I always tell my little pink ladies to work and play hard.”

A FUTURE GIRLS TOURNAMENT IN THE FRENCH ALPS?

My pink team is very adorable, and we draw attention and sympathy whenever we show up. Recently the girls received video messages from Nicole Court (A You tube star aka Beer League Beauty https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NQgW5TfURGB7bGHtVbDP1WngcTjlmBYH/view?usp=drive_web ) and from Florence Schilling (a goalie of the Swiss National Team https://drive.google.com/file/d/1oMV1nMT0FVV_aBtkKJ5BcbdMpzT0FOS1/view?usp=drive_web) and we hope more is to come. We are so happy for it, and our plan is to continue working very hard and become stronger every day. We hope we’ll be able to make a girl U9 tournament one day here in the French Alps.

 IF HE’D SKATED FASTER, HE COULD BE LIKE A GIRL TOO 

I always tell my little pink ladies to work and play hard. I love their diligence, dedication and a fighting competitive spirit. But most of all I like this quote: “Once a boy had told me that I skated like a girl. I answered him if he’d skated faster, he could be like a girl too”. 😀 

 

 

 

Hello from Vaujany

Hello from Vaujany! Greetings from  lovely French Alps with the freezing cold mornings and beautiful sunny days. Hello from the Women’s Ice Hockey World Championship of IA Division,  where everybody can win today, and lose the next day. There are no favorites and losers on this Tournament in France.

After two days and six  played games, the results table was pretty interesting. All participating countries (Norway, Denmark, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia and France) had the same number of wins and losses. All the winning countries of the first day   were defeated on the very next day.of the Worlds.

Vaujany, a lovely mountain village in the French Alps

THE INITIAL GAMES SURPRISES

The first day was full of surprises. Maybe the biggest one made Slovakia, defeating favored Austria, with the result 3-2. The general impression was that Austria entered the match fairly relaxed, thinking they would easily beat the last promoted IA Division country, Slovakia.  But Slovakia played well motivated, skating fast and playing good in the attack as well as in the defense, and finally managed to overcome the Austrians.

No less interesting was the game between the hosts of France and Denmark. The match was very tense,  and until the end  it seemed it  would be continued in the OT period. But, 51 seconds before the final whistle, the French player Chloe Aurard managed to score and bring the first win to France, 3-2.

The Hungarian fans in front of the Vaujany ice hall

THE FIRST OFFICIAL HUNGARIAN VICTORY OVER NORWAY

The last game of the day was between Hungary and Norway. At the previous Worlds (Graz,  Austria, 2017), Norway easily defeated Hungary 6-0. But,   the freshman in the Hungarian national team, Averi Nooren (with a dual Hungarian-Canadian citizenship), managed to  score in the second minute of the first period, bringing Hungary to the lead. The match was full of ups and downs of the both teams, but in the end, Hungary deservedly won. It has been the first Hungarian victory over Norway at the official tournaments.

HOW LOSERS BECAME WINNERS

The second day of the Tournament brought the completely new winners and losers. Namely, all the countries that had lost the first day, managed to win on the next day, and opposite.  After just a couple of hours of rest and recovery from the painful defeat in the last minute of the match, Danes played very good in the next game  against Slovakia, and easily beat them 6-3.

The Danish fans watching the game Denmark-Slovakia

But the next game (Hungary-Austria) was totally unpredictable. The Hungarians entered the match perfectly skating, passing and shooting the puck, and left for a break with a leading result 2-0. If you left the Vaujany ice-rink hall after the first period, you would probably think the Austrians would be  defeated again. But, then you would have missed the total turn of the game made by the team of Austria.  In the middle of the second period Austrian Denise Altman had scored the first goal for her team. And then everything changed. In the next ten minutes, Austrians managed to score 5 goals, completely violating the game of Hungarians. Austrians left for the second break with the smiles on their faces and the leading result 5-3. The last third was equal, both teams scored one more time. which was enough for Austrians to win an important victory.

THE ADVANTAGE OF THE HOME FIELD HASN’T PREVENTED THE DEFEAT OF THE FRENCH

The last game of the second day has been played between France and Norway. The ice-rink hall was full o spectators, an atmosphere was high and tense. The both teams have had many supporters from the stands.

Having been recovered from the first lost, Norway played very well against the French girls, and scored 2 goals in the first two periods. Only in  the last period the French managed to score, which wasn’t enough to avoid their first loss. The final result of the game was 2-1 for Norwegians.

A detail from the game Norway-Denmark

A FIGHT BETWEEN TWO ETERNAL RIVALS OF IA DIVISION

After a day break, the next game was played between the eternal rivals of the IA Division, Norway and Denmark. The stands were colored in red and white, full of the supporters from the both countries. After the first two periods, the result was 0-0. But it didn’t affect the fans from both teams to have a relaxed chat and beer in the breaks, outside the hall.

The last third brought some more excitement. Although Norwegians were more likely to attack, the Danish 15 years old goalie Emma-Sofie Nordström was invincible. On the other hand, a moment of uncertainty of the Norwegian defense players was enough for the Danish forward Silke Glud to score the first and only  goal on the match, bringing her team victory and 3  important points.

A detail from the game Hungary-Slovakia

AN UNEXPECTEDLY HIGH HUNGARIAN VICTORY

From the very start, the next game between Slovaks and Hungarians was completely unequal. The Hungarians dominated in every aspect of the game, and the Slovaks could only roughly stop them playing, making the frequent penalties. The final result of the match was unexpectedly high, 8-1 for Hungary.

The last game between the hosts of France and Austria has brought the new tension and excitement. The fans of both teams started gathering an hour before the game. When the match started,  the hall was full of spectators.

Unexpectedly quickly and easily, Austria scored two goals in the third minute of the first period. Of course, this resulted with an extra tension in the hall. After the initial shock, the French were able to recover quickly , scoring two goals in the next 20 minutes, and the result was equal 2-2.

The Official Tournament Poster with the games schedule

STILL WAITING FOR THE NEW WORLD’S CHAMPION

In the last period of the game the tension culminated.  Austrians made a lot of fouls, allowing French to make often power play. But the result stayed unchanged. When it seemed the game would enter the OT period, 9 ssecs before the end, the refs sent Austrian Eva Maria Verwormer to the penalty box for holding the opponent. When the French players scored the goal 5 secs before the end, the host spectators were already celebrating their victory. France won another victory, and Austria left the battle field disappointed, with no points.

All in all, after 3 days, in the round robin table Hungary is the leading country, with 6 points and the biggest score difference, with following Denmark and France. After a day break, the final six games will bring us the new World champion, who’ll be promoted to the Top Division for the first time.

Alexandra Ali Austin: Hockey Was and Is Love of my Life and I Miss It Every Day!

Alexandra Austin is the person you love as soon as you meet her. She has a warm smile in her eyes, and her choice of words reflects a very emotional and kind person who likes to help people. This 23 years old American is a former hockey player, currently living in Boston, Massachusetts. She is working as a clinical research coordinator at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the Crohn’s and Colitis Center. Her job is to help the doctors there that she works with to  run clinical studies. Ali also works to combat Inflammatory Bowel Disease and all of the awful symptoms that go with it.

Her parents still live in Minnesota, where they are all from, but visit often. Ali’s two younger brothers are playing hockey out East – one is a senior at the University of Connecticut, and the other is a freshman at Colgate University. They are both doing exceedingly well and hope to play in the NHL someday.

Alexandra Austin

 AN EXTREMELY BEAUTIFUL GIRL – INSIDE AND OUT

Beside hockey, Alexandra loves to play music and she’s taught herself guitar. This precious girl sings and occasionally writes songs and loves to play piano. Besides that, she also loves hiking and being active outside. She hopes to one day soon become a personal trainer.

Ali’s former teammates love her above all for being a good friend, always dedicated to the team. For them, she is an unbelievably talented singer, and they gladly remember  how she sung the national anthem before their home games at Yale. They respect her good hockey IQ sense, and her continuous hard work on improving her skills. They see Ali as an ambitious young lady who has had to work so hard for everything she’d achieved. She has never given up even though her college career wasn’t kind to her. But they are completely sure Ali will be a great doctor one day, and can’t wait to see what else the future holds for her. For majority of them Ali is an extremely beautiful girl – inside and out

The majority of her friends and teammates loves her above all for being a good friend, dedicated to the team.

 BUT IN THE END IT WAS ALL COMPLETELY WORTH IT

I started playing when I was 5. My parents put me in figure skating lessons, but I used to sneak off the ice and go watch the hockey players on the other sheet. That was the reason my parents signed me up to play on my brother’s team. My mom and dad were happy that my brother and I were doing the same thing, so it was less of a crazy time commitment for them. I’d say my friends thought it was a little weird for me being a hockey player. Growing up, I played each season on boys teams until 8th grade. They thought it was weird to spend so much time doing it and I know their parents thought mine were crazy for making us go so often. But in the end it was all completely worth it.

Ali Austin with her family.

THE EMOTION I’LL NEVER FORGET

I’ve been so blessed to play for many hockey teams and have amazing experiences doing it. One of my favorite memories is of losing in the championship game of the Minnesota State Hockey Tournament in 2011 whil I was playing for the Edina Hornets. Almost my whole school was there cheering us on, since the school bussed them to the arena. We were playing where the Minnesota Wild play, which was amazing in itself.  My classmates had signs and got really into the cheers and everything. It was such a unique experience that made me really feel like I was a vital part of the community. We lost, so it was extremely tough at the time and it’s still hard to look back on. But the emotion it brought out of me is something I’ll never forget.

‘Hockey has empowered me to push myself in every aspect of my life.”

THE BONDS I FORGED WITH THOSE GIRLS ARE WHAT MATTERS TO ME NOW

We were a bit of a dream team and we had so many D1 commits (D1 refers to Division 1, a class of sport within college hockey in the US. It is the highest level of college hockey in the US). We lost in the last minute of the championship game against Minnetonka high school. I’d never before felt so angry and frustrated. I made the all tournament team and they made us take a picture and I’ve never seen myself look so angry. I laugh every time I see it now. But the bonds I forged with those girls and the overall experience are what matters to me now, not necessarily that we lost the game.

Many of her former teammates have become her life friends.

HOCKEY WAS AND IS THE LOVE OF MY LIFE. I MISS IT EVERY DAY

The worst thing that happened to me because of hockey were my injuries. I got a very bad concussion my freshman year of college. That took me out of hockey for a year, and school for a semester. Unfortunately, it ended up precipitating the end of my career. Honestly, I’ve never had to do something so hard as stopping hockey. It was and is the love of my life and I miss it every day. I can’t even watch a hockey game today without feeling a little sad that it’s not me out there. It just makes me look forward to when I have kids and when I’ll get to help them through their hockey careers. That’ll be almost as good if not better than going through it myself

‘I can’t even watch a hockey game today without feeling a little sad that it’s not me out there.” – Ali with her Yale teammates and friends.

HOW YALE STUDENTS BECAME CONFECTIONERS

There are so many dear memories of hockey, that sometimes I lose count. One of my best life friends, a Swiss Olympian Phoebe Staenz and I used to prank each other a lot during our time playing hockey at Yale. It was hilarious and brought us together. We’d put clear tape on each other’s blades or hide our jocks. Always little things but funny. We also used to bake together – Phoebe Staenz, Rachelle Graham, Hanna Astrom and me. We even baked cookies including  our hockey jerseys’ numbers on them.

Creative people always find a good way to have fun. – Cookies with the numbers of jerseys on them, baked by Ali and her teammates.

HELPING OTHERS CONTINUE THE GAME WE BOTH LOVE, WOULD BE A DREAM FOR ME

In my future, I’m going to be applying to medical school in June. I hope to become an orthopedic surgeon for a professional or collegiate hockey team so that I can give back to players and hopefully save a few of their careers. While I might not get to be out on the ice, helping others continue the game we both love, would be a dream for me.

‘Hockey is my favorite thing to do and I wouldn’t give it up for the world.”

HOW HOCKEY MAKES US FEEL IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANYTHING

My note to the other players would be, enjoy everything and don’t take any of it for granted. Hockey is amazing and there are so many things that it will teach you that can be applied to all of life.

Hockey is a tough sport for anyone. You are constantly pummeling your body in training and in games. But it’s always worth it. What we think of ourselves and how hockey makes us feel is more important than anything. This sport has empowered me to push myself in every aspect of my life. Hockey is my favorite thing to do and I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

 

Tatiana Shchukina: I Consider Myself as a Very Happy Person Because of Hockey

Tatiana Shchukina is a very unusual 22 years old Russian hockey goalie. At the  beginning of our conversation, she told me her English wasn’t good, but she was willing to talk to me in any way. She’d wanted to share her hockey story, and wrote it in a mildly humorous vein, revealing her witty character. Shchukina is someone who’s not afraid of the obstacles that come her way. She’s  determined to be on the path to success.

Her friends love her for being a good and loyal friend. They like her honesty and her sense of humor. She is not afraid to tell her opinion when she finds it  appropriate, and vice versa. She is not a loud person and does not like to stand out in a company, but if you need her advice, she will be happy to help you.

Besides hockey, Shchukina’s doing tourism studies at the Russian International Tourism Academy, preparing these days for the final exam. When she has it completed, she’ll continue to play hockey and travel around the world. In her free time, Tatiana likes reading, art, pets and all amusing activities.

Tatiana Shchukina

VOLLEYBALL, ARABIAN DANCING AND ICE HOCKEY

I was born in 1995 in Podolsk, an industrial city in the Moscow region, 37 km away from the Russian capital. Since I was a child, I always played sports. Growing up, I was involved in different sport activities. I’ve played volleyball for a school team and I’ve done Arabian dancing. At the age of 13, my father suggested me to try something more exciting, and took me to the ice rink. I loved the atmosphere there, and started playing ice hockey on a local team.

At the start I was a player. But, one day my coach offered me the position to play goalie. It looked difficult to me, but I decided to give it a try. My parents positively reacted, though they were not sure how serious my decision was. I proved them wrong, and here I am, standing in front of a net,one year by another. My father is still supporting me. After all these years, I am very happy whenever I see him on the stands.

‘With Tornado we won three times the Russian Championship”.

WINNING THE RUSSIAN HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP

After practicing and playing with boys in my birth town, I felt the need to make a change in my life, and decided to move to another town. I wasn’t sorry for leaving, because I was looking ahead to the future. I moved to Odintsovo, also in the Moscow region, and start playing for the girls’ team Atlant Mytishchi. There I spent 3 amazing seasons.

But, one day I got an invitation to play in WHL, (the most prestigious Russian women’s hockey league), for the professional  HC Tornado Dmitrov. It was a great honor for me, because it was the best and most titled women’s hockey team in Russia. I played on the Tornado team for 4 seasons. We competed in finals a few years in a row, and won the Russian Championship 3 times. We also won the European Champions Cup.

‘Sports are an excellent platform for life development and career building”.

AN OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY IN A YOUNGER TEAM

After 4 seasons playing in the WHC, I wanted to play in a weaker team. I needed again a new challenge and I saw this as an opportunity to play in a newer, younger team. So I moved to HC Dinamo from Kursk, a city 500 km south from Moscow. I felt great there and we were a good team, but because of financial problems, we couldn’t participate in the Women’s Hockey League. I was not satisfied with this and decided to move to HC Dinamo from St. Petersburg. I played there in the 2016-2017 season and we won a bronze medal in the WHL.

Hockey holds a special place in her life.

WE ARE CONTINUOUSLY IMPROVING OUR GAME

Now I play on team SKSO Yekaterinburg of the Sverdlovsk region. Even though our team didn’t play well in the previous season, we have not lost hope. We are trying our best and continuously improving our game. We want to be able to play one day in the WHL, against other strong women’s teams.

I also had an opportunity to represent Russia at the U18 World Championship in Finland and at some other international tournaments. I am very proud of myself for being able to wear a national team jersey.

‘As a member of the Russian National Hockey U18 Team, I competed at the Worlds in Finland, 2013.”

I WAS IMPRESSED BY CANADIAN NATURE

 Each sport involves a lot of travel. Through hockey, I’ve been able to travel widely, and visit many beautiful countries, like Canada, Finland, Austria and others. I’ve liked them all, but  Canada left the best impression on me. I liked their mountains and forests, and how large, modern cities can live together with nature.

HOCKEY IS MORE THAN JUST A GAME

Hockey holds a special place in my life. I consider myself as a very happy person because of hockey. Ice hockey is more than just a game. It’s travels, having an opportunity to meet new and interesting people, revealing new cultures and ways of life. In general, sports take a lot of space in the people’s lives. Sports are not just a physical activity, they are fashion, excitement, marketing, passion and an excellent platform for life development and career building. If I didn’t become a hockey player, maybe I would be a professional dancer or find myself in blogging. Who knows?

‘I consider myself as a very happy person due because of hockey”.

HOCKEY IS JUST 10% TALENT, AND 90% HARD WORKING

At the end of my story, I can only tell to younger players to try today to be better than yesterday. And, of course, love what you do. This is the recipe for hockey success. Listen to your coach and do whatever he tells you to. Don’t forget, hockey is 10% talent and 90% hard working.

 

Elena Sans Pascual: Playing Hockey for Spain Completely Changed My Future Plans

Elena Sans Pascual is a charming 17 years old Spanish girl who likes to travel and play hockey. She was born and used to live in Barcelona, together with her family, her mom Meritxell, dad Enric, older sister Maria, and a dog Snitch. Recently Elena moved to Pamplona, for hockey and school. Now she lives in the house of her coach, together with his family.

She is currently on the last year of her schooling, and is preparing for the final exam, so the next step would be attending an university. Elena practices hockey three days a week, and the rest of her time she spends in studying. In her free time, she likes watching football, especially her favorite teams FC Barçelona and Liverpool FC. This young lady likes many things, but the ones she enjoys the most are certainly ice cream and churros filled with chocolate.

HOW A FIGURE SKATER BECAME A HOCKEY PLAYER

I started playing hockey when I was 7 or 8 years old. My family lived next to an ice rink, where my older sister liked to spend Saturday afternoon figure skating. I was also  interested in it, so, one day I decided to give it a try. In the very beginning, l was just attempting to maintain a balance and not fall. But, after a lot of practice, I got better. It was one of my coaches who realized the figure skating wasn’t the best sport for my temper. I always wanted to be the fastest, and win in every single activity.That’s why she suggested to my parents to take me to hockey. They accepted her advice, and one day we all went to a senior hockey match. It was an amazing experience for me, especially when the players started fighting. At the very moment, I looked at my mom and said without hesitation: ‘I want to do that”. My family was very supportive. They themselves have been very involved in the idea of making a team, and they are still doing it.

Elena with her dog Snitch

MY DAD USED TO DRIVE ME 485 KM FROM ONE RINK TO ANOTHER

I started practicing hockey with the boys in the FC Barcelona, in Barcelona, Catalonia. A few years later, when I was 11-12, I also started playing with the girls, for the CH Huarte team in Pamplona. It was a very exciting and tiring period in my life. My dad used to drive me around 485 km  (300 miles) from one rink to another, and it usually took us 4 and a half hours. But love for hockey was stronger than any effort, and we never gave up.

One season I also had played on the Ice Blue Cats women’s team from Barcelona, but the season after I came back to Pamplona. Finally, two years ago, I moved to Huarte. Now I’m trying to finish my last two years of school,  playing hockey with both  girls and boys under 17.

‘In future, I will keep playing hockey and trying to improve my skills.”

A PROMOTION TO IIA DIVISION FIRST TIME EVER

When I turned 15, I started to play for the national team of Spain. I played my first Women’s U18 Championship Division II, Group B at home, in Jaca, Spain. A year after that I played at U18  Women’s World Championship Qualifications for 1B Division. A month later, I also competed for Spain in the Women’s World Championship of 2B Division at Iceland. That year we also played at the Four Nations Tournament U18 in Hungary, and the Pre-Olympic tournament with the senior team. Finally, this year is my last in the U18 team. In the last few months we have already played the U18 Women’s World Championship Qualification in Mexico. And, as a cherry on the top, a few days ago our National Team  finally managed to take top spot in 2018 Women’s World Championship of IIB Division, claiming a promotion to IIA Division first time ever.

They’ve made a historical hockey success ever for Spain

WE JUST TRIED TO GIVE OUR BEST IN EVERY SINGLE GAME

Honestly, we didn’t think of winning the gold. We just tried to give our best in every single game, without giving up. On the first day, we had a hard game against Iceland. We won, and the first obstacle was behind us. In the next two rounds, we also beat Romania and Turkey. The last game was against undefeated Chinese Taipei. We committed ourselves hearts and souls to the game, showing on the ice our fighting spirit and how much we wanted to win. When we’d heard the the final whistle sound, I couldn’t believe we’d made it. This was the common success of all players, technical staff and our coach, Christian Yngve. I’m so thankful to him. He did a lot for us during these past 3 years.

‘We were just trying to give our best, and play one game by another-“

An opportunity to play hockey for the National Team of Spain, has completely changed all my future plans. Thanks to that, I realized how I love hockey. I’m still playing with the same passion, and feel great among all these amazing teammates and friends.

THEY’VE TAUGHT ME MANY HOCKEY AND LIFE LESSONS

Ever since I started playing hockey, I had several coaches, but one of my favorites has been Sergio Gimenez. He coached me when I was younger, at the very beginning of my hockey career. The other favorite coach of mine is Swede Christian Yngve, the coach of our national team. Thanks to these guys, I’ve learnt all I know of hockey. They have not been just my hockey coaches, they’ve taken a great care of me, teaching me many life lessons as well.

Elena with her coach Christian Yngve

YOU MUST NOT ALLOW THE DEFEATS TO HINDER YOU ON YOUR WAY TO THE SUCCESS

In my future, I will try to keep playing and improving my hockey knowledge and skills to the best level I can. I would also like to coach kids or a women’s team one day.
      
My message to the other girls would be to keep on doing what they really like and to never give up. It doesn’t matter how high your goal is – if you really want to achieve it, you have to keep on learning, practicing and working hard, and not allow the defeats to hinder you on your way to the success.


      

 

 

 

 

Andrine Furulund – A Story of a Girl Pursuing Her Dream

Andrine Furulund is 19 years old. She is a Norwegian hockey player who now lives in Gothenburg, Sweden. She lived in Oslo with her family and her dog until she finished high school. In August of last year (2017), she packed up her bags and moved to Sweden, to follow her dream of becoming a hockey player.

Andrine’s days start at 5 am. She works full time at Store Support during the day. In the evening she has on and off ice hockey practice most days of the week. She goes to bed early every night, in order to be ready to do it all over again the next day.

Besides hockey she’s into photography and drowing. Unfortunately, after a day’s work and hockey practice, there isn’t much time left for anything else.

Andrine Furulund

HOW MY SOCCER TEAM BECAME A HOCKEY TEAM

 I started playing hockey when I was 8 or 9 years old. My aunt Kari Fjellhammer who introduced me to the sport, played in the most prestigious league in Norway for many years. She was also on the Norwegian national hockey team.

I was into soccer, when my aunt took me and my whole soccer team to the ice rink. We all had such a great time, that we decided to also start playing ice hockey. It was thanks to my aunt and Jarle Hilton, that this all girl hockey team came to be. The beginning was hard since there was no girl’s league. We had to start by playing against boys and losing almost every single game. Eventually, after a lot of practice, we got better and started winning. I remember how it felt good to win the game and see the boys cry for having lost.

A photo taken by Andrine

WINNING MY FIRST MEDAL

When I turned 13, I started playing for the women’s team IHK Jordal. As I got older, I also started playing on the boy’s team Hasle-Løren. Having an opportunity to play with both girls and boys was a great experience.

Every year there was a regional championship for the girls under 18. I competed in finals 6 years in a row and won at least 3 gold medals, but also a couple of silver and bronze. All in all, it was a great experience. for all of us.

The World Championship in Graz, Austria 2017;    photo taken by: Mats Bekkevold

A WONDERFUL MEMORY FROM VAUJANY, FRANCE

I have also competed in three  U18 World Championships for Norway. My fondest memory is winning the silver medal at the 2015 World Championship of IA Division, in Vaujany, France. We had a great team that year, the surroundings were beautiful. My dad was also there, in the stands, and got to see me winning a silver medal. It was absolutely amazing.

I’ve also had an opportunity to compete in two women’s World Championships I participated in so many different competitions, that sometimes I lose count.

‘My fondest memory is winning the silver medal at the 2015 World Championship in Vaujany, France.”

MOVING TO THE BIG LEAGUE

In 2017 I moved to Gotheburg, Sweden, to play in SDHL, one of the better women’s hockey leagues. It was an opportunity for me to develop my skills and improve my game. This league is at much higher level then the one I played in Norway, and I saw that this was going to be a fun challenge early on.

It was not easy moving away from friends and home, even though Gothenburg is not that far away from Oslo. Now I have to look after myself. I’ve learnt a lot about myself and life in general over the past 7 months. I think I’m doing pretty well.

‘I’ve learnt a lot about myself and life in general over the past 7 months.”

Even though my team is ranked as the last in the League in the previous season, we have significantly  improved our game. We lost a lot at the beginning, however, around Christmas we turned things around. That was a great feeling.

HOCKEY IS NOT JUST ABOUT MUSCLES AND STRENGTH

Many see hockey as a men’s sport. The game can be rough and you need a lot of strength and stamina on the ice. That is true, but it is also not all. Physical strength and muscles are not enough. A team has no need for a physically strong player, who does not understand the game. If you want to be a great player, you need to understand the game strategy, which direction to skate in, and who to pass the puck to. You need to be able to read both your opponents and your teammates. You need to use your head and be smart in order to be good at it.

The World Championship in Graz, Austria 2017;     photo taken by: Somogyi Viktor

A FEW FINAL THOUGHTS

While living in Gothenburg, I believe I have grown both as a hockey player and as a person. I am not sure what the future holds, but I would really love to continue playing hockey here.

My message to the younger players, who are just getting started, would be to have fun. If you want to get better at the game of hockey, you have to be able to enjoy it and have fun along the way. It will not always be easy and you will not always win, so it is important to enjoy it for the fun of it.

 

 

 

Linda Liu: We Have Finally an Opportunity to Represent Taiwanese Women’s Hockey

For some time I’ve been writing about women’s hockey. I’ve had an amazing opportunity to publish stories of the female hockey players from all over the world. And each of them itself was special and different, just like our lives are.

Linda Liu’s story left me speechless. I couldn’t stop reading it for its simplicity, sincerity, warmth and emotions. Linda’s education, beliefs and way of thinking definitely differs from western girls. Her story radiates with sincerity, love and respect, as almost all the stories of eastern girls.  I really enjoyed reading it, as I’m quite sure you will feel the same.

Linda Liu, the captain of the Taiwanese Women’s Ice Hockey Team

GET TO KNOW LINDA LIU

My Chinese name is Chih-Lin Liu, and my English name is LindaI’m the captain of the Chinese Taipei Women’s ice hockey national team. I’m a 22-year-old Taiwanese girl and a college student in Taipei, Taiwan, studying industrial design. From experience, I can say that it is pretty difficult being a design student and playing sports simultaneously. There are times when my projects, 30 idea sketches, and model buildings are due, and yet I still have to make it to the rink.

Except when doing research for my project and hockey practices, I love going out to observe some exhibitions or events so that I can get more ideas for my design.

Linda with her family

WE WERE RAISED BY USING A CHINESE MILITARY METHOD

I started to play inline hockey when I was 8, and joined ice hockey a year later. The story began with my dad. Namely, one day he brought home two packs of hockey gear and told my older sister and me to get ready.  As we realized what was going on, dad had already taken us to a hockey rink.

At that time my dad just retired from the military service. He had played inline hockey himself for years, so he wanted us to try it as well. Thus, we were raised, beaten, and trained like boys, by using a Chinese military method.

So how did we train on our own? We got hit every time we had skated too slow or had not played well. As we grew older, my dad trained and pushed us less and less.

Most of her life she’s been practicing with the boys.

A HUNDRED LAPS AFTER A TRAINING SESSION

Later on, I started to work harder on hockey. It was not because I was forced to, but because I wanted to. My first club (where I still play) has been Max hockey team. Today it is known as Silver Monsters Ice Hockey team. There are mainly boys, we only have two or three girls on the team.

The first two years I joined, we trained vigorously on our skating. I remember we used to skate a hundred laps after our training session. It was very difficult for me, but I still enjoyed it.

A GREAT INFLUENCE OF A HUNGARIAN KÕVÁGÓ ON TAIWANESE HOCKEY

Later on, a Hungarian guy came and changed the whole idea of ice hockey in Taiwan. Kristóf Kővágó, a former professional hockey player, has guided our club team and national team to win numerous tournament victories. He was the one who taught me a lot of things. Because of him, my ice hockey basis built up really well.

‘It was incredible experience to lead my team to a winning streak.”

AN AMAZING HOCKEY EXPERIENCE IN CANADA AND SWEDEN

In 2008, I attended the IIHF 100-year anniversary Skills Challenge event. Three Taiwanese kids went to Quebec for a fantastic hockey week. After watching all the amazing players from around the world, my friend, Tiffany, who is the Chinese Taipei National Team’s goalie, and I had a dream that one day we will catch up to them.

In order to be a better player, I have joined twice the ice hockey camp in Sweden. It was a wonderful time of my life to play with all the elite women’s national team players. To train with them was the biggest dream I could make come true when I was 14.

GATHERING THE FIRST TAIWANESE FEMALE ICE HOCKEY NATIONAL TEAM EVER

I have been playing with Taiwanese boys my whole life and never thought that playing ice hockey with only girls could be that fun. By that time Taiwanese women’s hockey was just about to start. I was thinking of one day I could play with girls and represent our country to compete with others. Why not give it a try  in a women’s team? So I took every opportunity that I could get to gather all the girls from each Taiwanese team. We were practicing together as much as we could, in order to go for some small tournament.

‘In 2014 we got the chance to play at our first formal international tournament.”

In December 2014, we finally got the chance to play at WCCOA, the very first formal international tournament. In three years, we won two gold medals at WCCOA and one at World Championships Division II Group B Qualification last year. It was incredible to lead my team to a winning streak and moved up a division that fast.

WE HUGGED ONE ANOTHER AND CRIED TOGETHER OVER THE THOUGHT ABOUT HOW FAR WE HAD COME

I remember the team bonding before the last game of  the Worlds against Belgium. Tiffany and I told the girls that this is going to be a huge step for our women’s ice hockey history. Three years ago, no one believed in us. Nobody thought that we could even win any match in the first place.So, we had to prove them wrong. We hugged one another and cried together over the thought about how far we had come. The loudest and most touching national anthem I heard was the one after the game.

When I’m talking about the national team, I have to point out the weird way  of score celebration. I do not know who started it first. When we score, we hug together and jump at the same time to cheer. It looks clumsy but that’s just how we celebrate. 😀

‘A few years ago, none believed in us, so we had to prove them wrong.”

I WILL JUST ALWAYS PUSH MYSELF TO THE LIMIT

For the environment of Chinese culture, we will imagine an athlete normally looks taller, bigger or stronger than average. We will also think of an athlete as “not so smart to study but can do sports”. Based on these facts, I’m not an average athlete. I look like every other girl of my age. People still get surprised when they find out I’m a hockey player. It is funny to watch their reaction whenever I do something only “strong people can do”.

Whatever people think a girl should be or look like, I will just always push myself to the limit and surprise those who do not believe I’m able to do that. I do not need to be masculine to let others know I am tough. I simply want to prove that a normal look Asian girl can do both sports and study, and I do them pretty well.

‘I want to help more on the team and pursue higher level of hockey.”

NEVER TRY AND YOU’LL NEVER KNOW

I have never really planned my future with hockey. I was taught in a typical Chinese way of thinking that you were not going to make a living with sports. As time went by, I started to dig out the purpose of me playing hockey. As long as I can make sure there is no problem for me to feed myself.

Everyone needs a dream to live on. Why not put one into my life? Five years ago, there was no chance for us to join the IIHF tournament. We did not have enough women players to build up a team. And we finally have an opportunity to stand on an international stage and step out to represent our country. I want to help more on the team and pursue higher level of hockey.
I will continue practicing as hard as I can to join the draft of any women’s professional hockey league. Never try and you’ll never know, right?

‘Everyone needs a dream to live on. Why not put one into my life?”

BELIEVE iN YOUR ABILITIES, AND BE THE BEST VERSION OF YOURSELF

Honestly, I think hockey is not an easy sport in any way. But it is like our lives. We need to work hard to get what we want. And sometimes we lose though we did all we could. Honestly, I think I am never good enough. So I will reflect myself after each pass, shot or a puck save, just to make sure I will not make the same mistake again. It is like a lifestyle, we keep reflecting our behavior and never stop learning. The only thing that matters is to believe in your abilities, and be the best version of yourself.

Camilla Rehn: It Is an Honor for Me to Train Hockey Players

Camilla Rehn is not a hockey player. But, in her life, a lot of things revolve around ice hockey. First of all, Camilla is a hockey mom. Her kids, Daniel (14) and Emma (11) are both hockey players. This amazing 39-year-old Swede is also a personal full time coach, who often works with hockey players as well. Currently, she is a strength coach of the women’s hockey team Linkoping (LHC). In the summer she also works with male hockey players who want to achieve the best possible fitness level for the upcoming hockey season. At the same time, Camilla also helps her son’s hockey team with pre-season workouts.

According to her friends and clients, Milla is an eternally young person who radiates enormous energy, power and wisdom, motivating athletes and other people to work continuously, not only on their performance, strength and endurance, but on the everyday lifestyle as well. She inspires many young girls to become stronger, not just physically but mentally as well, and encourages their self-confidence. Milla brings the sparkle that ignites the fire in the heart of every human and athlete, and you just cannot stay indifferent to that.

Camilla Rehn – An eternally young person who helps others in achieving their goals

I HATED PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES AS A KID

When I was a kid,  I hated physical activities. But when I turned 12, I started playing soccer. One day my coach asked me what I had liked  more, the pre-season tough workout in the gym, or the actual soccer season. I immediately answered: ‘The gym.”  Since that time I changed my focus from the soccer field to the gym and a group training.

WORKING WITH ATHLETES IS ALWAYS A CHALLENGE

I decided to become a personal trainer because I strive to help others succeed in achieving their goals. I don’t have an exact number of the people I have been training. But I’m doing personal workouts with 5-6 different people per day.  After that, I work with the girls’ hockey players from the Linköpings HC. If I want them to be in the best physical condition. As a strength coach I must have good communication skills and work together with their head coach. This has worked great so far this season, with the women’s hockey team LHC. Their head coach Madde Östling is a former hockey player, so she knows very well what it takes. 

ALWAYS WORK OUT TO MAKE A PROGRESS

My most valuable principle is to always have clear goals, and practice in order to make a progress. No matter how big your next step is, it’s important to go further. When I work with regular clients, it often happens that they aren’t 100% focused on their diet and training, and I can understand that. But when I work with athletes who are at a higher training level, every practice is a challenge, for me as well as for them. During hard workouts, I usually have to force the athletes to take a break and rest.  They have to be willing to rest their bodies if they want to perform the best when it really counts. It is an honor for me to train hockey players. The job is fun and challenging.

MEN JUST DO WHAT I SAY

The biggest difference between training men and women is that the men always just do what I say.  The women always ask why they have to do a certain exercise. They always give suggestions about what they want to do. But there is another important thing. When it comes to the training schedule for women, I really have to think of it. Most often they don’t have enough time to recover after a hard workout, because many of them work a normal job, and then have household and parental duties. It leaves them with less time for other personal activities.

‘Working with athletes is always fun and challenging.”

HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY

Otherwise, I think it’s pretty similar working with men and women. In my case, honesty is the best policy. I am a direct person, and I always say what I think. If you want to make a progress, there is no place for making things softer and easier. If I see someone’s doing a great job, I say it. On the other hand, if I think someone needs to step it up and work harder, I say that too.

SOME GOOD AND NOT SO GOOD MEMORIES

I have many great memories since I’ve become a personal coach.  One of them is a woman who had problems with her shoulder and couldn’t sleep well at nights because of it for many years. After 6 months working with me, she quit taking pain killers and was able to train harder then ever. Another memory is of a man with diabetes.  After only a month of adjusting his diet and training hard, he only had to take one insulin dose per day, instead of previous numerous daily doses.

My worst memory was when I led my first aerobics class.  I was only 14 years old, very frightened and nervous. I remember I threw up before it.

‘To be successful, you have to love what you do.”

MENTAL TRAINING FOR THE RIGHT ‘MODE”

To be successful in any sport, you have to love what you do.  At the same time, you must always have a clear goal, and stay focused on it.  I often work on mental training with my clients who are going through a lifestyle change. I know for sure that many athletes do the mental exercises from time to time, but I think it should be more often. That’s the best way to be in the right ’mode’.

EAT TO DELIVER

When it comes to diet and nutrition, all athletes must eat well, so that they can give their best at training. Think smart. You don’t fill your car up with water. Eat to deliver. If you do this correctly, you will not be a gentle and vulnerable human being; you will be a ’machine’. In my opinion, it is very useful to take protein as a nutritional supplement.

For example, it is awesome to add 1 spoon of whey protein to your oatmeal when you eat your breakfast. Also, you can take it again between the meals, just to make sure that you have the energy to perform! And- never forget how important the carbs are.

Unfortunately, I meet many young people (especially girls) who avoid carbohydrates because they think it’s bad for their bodies.  But you need to eat good carbohydrates before AND after every training and game. Think smart.

‘If you want to make a progress, you must have a clear goal and work hardest you can.”

THE WINNERS ARE THE HARDEST AND SMARTEST WORKERS

It would be so great if women’s hockey got more money so they could, for example, have access to full time personal trainers, massage therapists, nutritionists etc.  These women fight so hard to be the best and I am really impressed by their love for the sport.

At the end, my message to all athletes would be: Those who train the hardest and smartest – they win! The question is, is it you? Do you train smart? Do you dare to rest? Do you watch what you eat? Think about it. Think smart.