Amanda Bäckebo: Leaving Home Was Painful, But I Followed My Heart

Amanda Bäckebo is a 20-year-old hockey player from Sweden who is not afraid to follow her heart.  She is also a very charming, witty and eloquent second-year college student athlete at Syracuse University. As in many Swedish families, hockey is a part of her family tradition and everyday life. Through hockey, she got a chance to see the world and study over 6300 kilometers far away from home. And she grabbed it, with both hands, because it was one of her biggest dreams. In her free time, she likes to watch movies, read, do some puzzles, or hang out with her family or friends.

Amanda Bäckebo

TOO YOUNG TO BE HOME ALONE, BUT OLD ENOUGH TO START PLAYING HOCKEY

I started playing hockey because both of my brothers were playing it, in a small local club Gagnefs HC. I was about 3 years old, so my parents had to bring me with them when they watched my brothers’ practices. I was too young to stay home alone. To keep me entertained, they put up obstacles along the boards, so I could skate there.  And that’s how I started, and I just kept going. It was natural for me to play hockey, since it was in the family. However, some of my friends didn’t understand why I couldn’t play with them all the time, because I was often busy with hockey practices. That is the reason why I have only a few close friends outside of hockey today.

MY PARENTS HAD TO SHOVEL SNOW DURING GAMES

I cherish a lot of warm memories from those days: our parents shoveling snow during a game when it snowed, and when the puck switched zones, having to run back and forth to continue shoveling; sitting on the bench wrapped in blankets to stay warm; or on heavy snow days, just shovelling paths in snow and playing tag. These are the things that kept me going.

Amanda with her family

THE LEKSAND IF EXPERIENCE

The next club I played for was the Leksand IF. It was a much bigger club, with a team in the highest Swedish league, so there were two ice rinks and better  conditions for the players. Now I played at an indoor hockey arena, I had newer equipment, serious practices, locker rooms, space to store my equipment there, so I didn’t have to drag it back and forth, etc. They also had two women’s teams, one in the highest league and the other in the second highest. These are all the reasons I started playing there, so far I had only played with boys, but now I played with both boys and girls.

i FOLLOWED MY HEART

At the age of 14 I went up and played with the first womans’ team. In that period I played on three different teams for a while. I kept on doing that until I was 16, when I focused just on the women’s team. While playing in Sweden, I was dreaming about a scholarship in the US. In order to realise my dreams, I attended a few camps, where I got a chance to be seen by the foreign hockey scouts. And, one day I got an invitation to go to the US. And I followed my heart.

Amanda with her Syracusa Teammates

LEAVING HOME WAS PAINFUL FOR ME

Every sport comes with both good and bad memories. When hockey is a major part of your life, it is very painful to get a coach who does not believe in you. Even more so if they don’t try to help you get past the problem that stand in  way of you playing hockey. I have gone through that situation a lot of times. Also, leaving home to move to another country was very painful for me, mainly because I really love my home. In the past, even a two weeks’ vacation was enough to get me cranky and I wanted to go home. You also miss out on a lot of events with your friends since hockey takes up a lot of time.

Amanda with the Swedish National U18 Team, The Four Nations Tournament, Budapest 2013. Photo by: Somogyi Viktor

A COLLECTION OF FRIDGE MAGNETS FROM THE HOCKEY COUNTRIES

Thanks to hockey, I’ve been able to attend a few camps in the different countries and meet a lot of new people. I have a collection of fridge magnets from the countries I’ve been to and played hockey, it’s fun to look at them and think of how I wouldn’t have been able to visit them without playing hockey. This sport has opened the world for me!

I also like the feeling of achieving goals, like the happiness of beating a personal record. And, of course, some rewards and wins are also on this list.

Amanda in front of the Hungarian goalie, the WCC in Budapest 2014. Photo by: Somogyi Viktor

WHO KNOWS WHAT THE FUTURE WILL BRING

After graduating college I’ll go back to Sweden and either take a study break and find work while still playing hockey. Or I’ll keep on studying to become either a diplomat or an engineer.  But who knows, I still have two and a half years left of college. A lot can still happen in that time to influence my decision.

After almost 18 years of playing hockey, at the end of my story I would tell younger girls just to have fun while playing, because it will take up a lot of time, and require focus, and determination!

 

Jaclyn Hawkins: Turn Your Passion Into Reality!

Jaclyn Hawkins is a hockey lady from Canada who radiates kindness, authority and patience. After just a few minutes of conversation, I immediately understood we have many things in common. When I contacted her, asking for an interview, she reacted very positively. We both copletely agree that the time has come for women’s hockey to have more supporters and fans. In Jaclyn, I feel like I’ve finally found a comrade in my mission to support and promote women’s hockey.

Jaclyn Hawkins

Jaclyn is a very skilful former hockey player and a NCAA coach as well. Hockey is her life and her passion since the earliest days. Aside from hockey, she also works from home, managing her business ( http://womenshockeylife.com)

However, in the last 19 months she has found a new love; being a mom to her twin girl and boy.

And I wondered, how does she manage it all?

WE WON THE US NATIONALS

I started playing hockey after watching my older brother play.  I would always play with him and his friends in our driveway and with the neighbourhood kids. If I remember well,  I was around 5 or 6 when I first got on the ice. I grew up playing with boys in the Ottawa Valley Titans organization. When body checking came into the game, I made the switch over to girls hockey, playing with the National Capitals Competitive Program (NCCP) in Ottawa. At 15 I attended a prep school in the United States where I competed for my school team, The Taft Rhinos, as well as the CT Polar Bears.  We (CT Polar Bears) won the US Nationals in my senior year of high school.

Photo by: Steve Slade

THE UNITED STATES, SWITZERLAND, CANADA

After that, I attended the University of Connecticut (UConn) where I was a full athletic scholarship student-athlete with the Huskies for 4 years. When I graduated from UConn, I stayed and was an assistant coach. After spending a year coaching, I decided to put the skates back on and signed a contract to go play in Zurich, Switzerland with the ZSC Lions for a season where we made it to the Swiss Championship game falling to HC Lugano.

When my contract expired, I came back to the United States, and started to work as the Director of Player and Organizational Development with a youth hockey program in CT, for two and a half years. I was also playing for the Boston Blades of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) during that time. We won the Clarkson Cup in 2013.  I then returned to my alma mater (UConn) and coached there for the next 4 years. So, as you can see, I lived a life full of changes, but hockey was always an integral part of it.

The winner of the Clarkson Cup with the Boston Blades

i WORE THE HOCKEY CANADA JERSEY WITH PRIDE

While playing hockey, I’ve had a lot of cool and unforgettable moments. But on this occasion, I would set three of them. The first one was playing with the CT Polar Bears and winning the US Nationals.  What made it memorable was that we won with 10 skaters, when everyone had counted us out.  I will never forget that group and what we were able to accomplish together.

Photo by: www.hockeycanada.ca

The second precious memory was being able to put on the Canadian jersey and represent my country. It was also something I will never forget. I ultimately got cut from the team, but I was able to compete internationally and wear the Hockey Canada jersey with pride. In the hockey country, with over 85,000 registered female players, the honor is to be chosen in the top 20. I had that privilege, and I’m very proud of that.

A DREAM COME TRUE FOR ME

A third memory was signing a contract to play professionally in Switzerland.  Growing up as a player, I never really knew if I could actually get paid to play the game.  At the time, when I first started to play, I dreamed about the NHL.  Granted, the Swiss League wasn’t the NHL, but they actually paid me to play – a dream come true for me!

Photo by: www.zsclions.ch

Currently, I’m a stay-at-home mom to 19 month old boy/girl twins, while running my business, Women’s Hockey Life (WHL). We plan to release a few new products in 2018, something I’ve been dreaming of doing for years. I was limited in what I could do with WHL, having been an NCAA coach and all the rules and regulations that prohibited me. I hope to join a “beer league” in the near future, as I do miss playing the game :D.

i’VE TURNED INTO A NIGHT OWL

A typical day for me consists of taking care of the twins, working on my business while they nap, and as soon as they go down for the night. Every day is different. I’ve turned into a night owl as my work day typically starts around 6pm and can end around midnight, sometimes 1am.

i am planning to use Women’s Hockey Life to grow women’s hockey.  Our 5 year plan will highlight, promote, and grow the game exponentially. I just wish there were more hours in a day, so I could make it all happen now! Raising twins and growing a business is teaching me PATIENCE 😉

Jaclyn as a director of Player and Organizational development

TURN YOUR PASSION INTO REALITY

At the end, I will tell something to young players: Play the game because you love it. Because you have fun playing it.  It’s great to have aspirations of playing in University, for your national team, or even professionally, but if you don’t enjoy the ride, or enjoy going to practice, or working at your craft, it will make achieving your goals that much harder. Find what you’re passionate about and then do one thing every single day to turn that passion into your reality.

Liga Miljone: You Are Not Going To Develop By Making Just One Mistake

Liga Miljone is a young Latvian girl that every mother wishes could be her daughter. She is a very kind and positive person, with good manners. Of course, she is an outstanding hockey player too. Partly for having her mother as the best hockey and life coach. But, most of all, Liga is successfull because she’s been working very hard to fullfill her dreams. Besides hockey, Liga likes fishing, snowboadring, traveling and going out with her friends for “fika” (you have to ask her personally, or some Swedes to translate this for you! Liga says it is the most difficult Swedish word to translate it! :))

Liga Miljone

A BRONZE IN FIGURE SKATING

My parents played hockey, so I was hanging around in many different ice hockey arenas through my childhood. I don´t know why, but I wanted to do a sport that is on the ice as well. So I started with figure skating at the age of 6. But I had a problem with figure skates: I was falling a lot and wasn´t able to skate properly. So, after my first tournament and a bronze medal (have no clue how I could get a medal, but it did happen), I told my mom that I want to play hockey. I was 7 years old, and pretty sure about my request: I could skate, shoot and handle the puck.

ICE HOCKEY WAS MY VERY OWN CHOICE

So, my parents took me to a hockey practice, put all the hockey equipment on me and… It was true: I could skate, shoot and handle the puck. And that´s just how it started. They didn´t push me to play ice hockey, it was my very own choice.  My mom and dad were just happy that I was doing something that I liked, and what I thought was fun to do. So, I started to play with boys on the HS Riga team (Hokeja Skola Riga), in the  season 2003/2004. That´s also when my mom Inese Geca-Miljone started coaching the same team I was playing on. At first, I was playing with boys born 1997, but later on I continue playing with younger boys.

Liga with her mother Inese Geca-Miljone

ALL I KNOW ABOUT HOCKEY, I OWE TO MY MOTHER

At the age of 10, I started to play on the women´s team HK Laima. It means that my mom was not only my coach, but my teammate as well. We were really good together: we won a lot of tournaments and fought well in the Latvian Championship with boys team. We won Latvian Women´s Championship every single year as well. Honestly, it was pretty amazing because I had my mom by my side. That´s why I can say that all I know about hockey, I owe to my mom. She has been my coach since 2003 until 2013.

IT TOOK ME ONLY 9 MONTHS TO LEARN SWEDISH LANGUAGE

The season 2012/2013 was my last in Latvia. I was 16 years old, and decided to move to Sweden, (Örnsköldsvik) to play on the Modo Hockey team. I played there two seasons, and also learned Swedish language as well. It took me only 9 months to learn it. Later on, (the season 2015/2016) I moved to Leksand and started to play on the Leksands IF. At the same time, I started to study in Leksands Gymnasium in Social Science program, which is a tough program when it comes to swedish language.

Liga with her teammates

MY BEST MEMORY iS MY WORST AS WELL

My best hockey memory is my worst as well. It happened on the Worlds 2014, in Ventspils, Latvia. We had a really good team that year and we were going for gold. At that point, my mom said that it would be her last Worlds together with me. We had really great chemistry and we played very well the first two games, until I blocked a shot and injured my arm. I managed to play until the end of the game and make an assist with that injury. Later on, we went to a  hospital, and found out that I had a badly broken arm.

The Worlds was over for me. I was really sad, but when my national team won the fourth game, it was clear that we are going to win gold. It´s my worst memory because of my first serious hockey injury, and my best memory because I did actually won World’s gold medal together with my mom. Winning World’s silver and bronze together with her (first as teammates, and later as a player-coach tandem) was huge success too! It feels crazy that we are the first mother-daughter to win World Championship gold, silver and bronze medals together in the Women´s Hockey history!

LIFE IS A BEAUTIFUL EXPIRIENCE

After graduating I want to study in a university and afterwards we will just see what happens. I don´t have any problems to talk with new people or move and live in another country or city. I think that all people who you meet in life have something new to teach you and all new places you go to have also something to show you. Life is about experience and I guess we all want to get the most out of it!

ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOUR COACH AND NEVER GIVE UP EASILY

At the end, I have a few messages to young players: lways listen to your coach. It doesn´t matter if you are mad or sad, or you think opposite then your coach. Remember – the coach is always right. Every coach has some kind of experience and sees everything better from off the ice, then you do on the ice. So do always listen, because your coach wishes you all the best.

YOU ARE NOT GOING TO DEVELOP BY MAKING JUST ONE MISTAKE

Don´t  be afraid of making mistakes and never give up on something so easily. The mistakes help you to grow. That´s the most important part – step out of your comfort zone and try to learn that dribble you have always dreamed about. You are not going to develop by making just one mistake. By making a mistake over and over again, you´ll finally learn that new dribble. It will come with time!

A Penalty Box – Don’t Be Like The Simpsons!

All hockey players and fans are familiar with the penalty box aka “Sin Bin”: a  small space as part of an ice hockey rink, located next to the officials’ box.This is the area where a player sits to serve his or her time of the given penalty for minor offences such as body checking, holding, and tripping etc. Players who are sent to the sin bin are usually charged with offences that will have them sitting in the box for a minimum of 2 minutes. While penalties can go up to 10 minutes, offences can be severe enough to merit an outright expulsion from the game, charged to players causing serious injuries.
And what about female hockey players?

Here we look at some of them who have sat in the penalty box on the things that goes through their mind, and what they actually do while being served a penalty.

Amanda Backebo

Amanda Backebo (21, Sweden): I’m the kind of player that rarely ends up in the penalty box. But when it happens, it’s usually because of the opposite players fall down by themselves. Or  I got mistaken for the one who actually did something, or a team penalty. So,  I usually think of how blind the referees are, and that they are in a serious need of some glasses, or to visit ophtalmologists.

SKATING FROM THE PENALTY BOX BACK TO THE TEAM BENCH AFTER THEY SCORE IS THE WORST FEELING

Jaclyn Hawkins

Jaclyn Hawkins (32, Canada):  I very rarely took penalties. I could count on one hand how many I took during my university career. So, when I did, I would just pray and hope that the other team didn’t score while I was sitting there. Doing that skate from the penalty box back to the team bench after they score is the worst feeling.

THE FIRST THING I WATCH OUT FOR IS THE TIME AND MY COACH

Yasmin Kamal

Yasmin Kamal (31, Malaysia): I usually think about what I want to do when my penalty minute is over. If I should scan the ice and quickly get into position or change immediately? But the first thing I would watch out for is the time and my coach. My coach might want me to do something. So I always keep a look out for him from across the ice. With time, I know how much time I have so I can make a difference in that shift.

iF THE OTHER TEAM SCORES WHIL I HAVE A PENALTY, I FEEL LIKE MY TEAMMATES ARE MAD AT ME AND DISSAPOINTED IN MY ACTIONS

Amie Varano

Amie Varano (23, USA):  I try my best to stay out of the penalty box because I do not want my team to be down a player especially in an important game. If I do get a penalty it’s usually for checking. While I’m in the box I’m looking at the bench to see what my coach wants me to do, either go out and join the play or go straight to the bench. If the other team scores while I have a penalty then I feel like they are mad at me and disappointed in my actions.

iF THE PENALTY WAS REALLY MY FAULT, I APOLOGIZE TO THE TEAM

Anna Kublina

Anna Kublina (20, Latvia)I’m trying to stay away from penalty box. But when I’m sitting there, the first thing I think about is whether the penalty was really necessary. After that, I’m watching the game and hoping that my team play well. There have been a couple of times where the refs have made a really bad call, and I got pretty annoyed. But don’t we all think like that, do we? If the penalty was really my fault, when I get back to the bench, I apologize to the team.

i CRITICIZE REFS VERY RARELY, WHEN IT IS OBVIOUS THEY WERE WRONG

Wen Lin

Wen Lin (28, Singapore):  I criticize referees very rarely, when it is obvious they were wrong. There was once where my opponent covered the puck with her body and held on to my stick while lying down, refusing to let go and play the puck. The ref did not call. I got pissed and checked her into the board. While trying, I missed her twice, but when I checked her, I felt rather good. You know, checking is not allowed, but I get hot and short tempered during games. So it always feels good to let it out like that 😉

I FEEL BAD AND GUILTY AT THE SAME TIME

Reka Partos

Reka Partos (21, Hungary): The first thought that comes into my mind is that I can’t allow these factors to bother me next time, because in this way I put the whole team in a bad position, not just myself. They have to work much more and they have a less scoring chance. The second thing in my head is the hope they kill the penalty as much as possible. When I’m there I feel bad and a little guilty at the same time, because it’s not only me who takes responsibility for my actions.

THINK TWICE BEFORE YOU CUT

These ladies told us their thoughts and feelings while sitting and waiting in the penalty box. So, all we can conclude is serving the time of a given penalty is never easy. That’s why in the biggest fight you have to think twice before you cut –  otherwise, the consequences can be very bad for the team.

 

 

 

Veronika Bucifalova: I feel 200% powerfull on the ice, especially with my shot!

Reprezentace ČR 18 ženy - ledni hokej

Veronika Bucifalova is a very young and talented Czech hockey player who’s  enjoyed so much exiting moments in her sport’s career. She’s just 18, and  already played 3 Junior World’s Championships,  all in the Top division, among the best female players in the world. Besides that, she played 1 Women’s World’s Championship as well.  Through hockey she was able to travel to many world’s countries, and play in Czech, Canada and Switzerland. Currently, she is making plans to study and play at some university in the US or Canada.

Veronika Bucifalova

i ALWAYS WANTED TO DO BOY’S SPORTS

It is actually pretty funny story to me how I started playing hockey. When I was 7 years old, I wanted to play soccer. But, in my home town they said I am too young and a girl as well, so I can not join the team. In the same time, my mom saw some advertisments for ice hockey in my elementary school and said I should try it. So we borrowed some skates, bought a hockey stick, and that’s how it happened. Simple and easy! 🙂 My friends and relatives weren’t surprised at all, because I always wanted to do boy’s sports. So, it wasn’t anything unusual or crazy for them.

I started playing hockey in my home town Sušice, where I played until   my 3rd grade (9 years old). The next year, I changed the club and started playing for HC Strakonice were I stayed until I was 15. Then I switched the club again, in order to play in a better league where I played for HC Příbram. I must emphasize that they were boy’s hockey clubs.

photo by: Reprezentace ČR 18 ženy – ledni hokej

I WAS THE PART OF THE TEAM THAT WON THE CZECH LEAGUE

I also played with women since I was 11. I played for HC Plzen until I was 14 years old. Then I decided to go to play for the HC Slavia Praha. When I was a part of the team, we won the Czech League. Finally, when I was 14, I got also scouted to USA, where I was travelling a lot during a year for some tournaments.

When I turned 16, I got an offer to go study and play hockey to Canada with a good scholarship. I took the opportunity and went studying and playing hockey for the Ontario Hockey Academy. I played there for 2 years. This last season I have been playing in Switzerland for new experience, and to earn some money as well, in order to go to University in the USA or Canada next year.

OHA academy was a very nice expirience for Veronika

iT WAS THE BEST FEELING I EVER HAD!

I have been also playing for the Czech national team since I was 11. First I played for the U15 team, where we won almost every tournament/game we played. When I turned 15, I started playing for the U18 where I played all 3 World championships but without any medal. Also, when I was 15, I was nominated and played for the  senior women’s team on the Worlds, where we won a gold medal. Winning the World championship when I was only 15 was more then the biggest dream I could have imagined. It was the best feeling I ever had! Since then I have been also playing for the “A” team.

TRAVELLING ALL AROUND WORLD

Hockey brings a lot of memories to your life, whether good or bad ones. Of course, there are more great ones. You meet so many people and make a lot of friends, especially when you’re travelling all around world. You see new places, meet new cultures and habits. This expirience is really unique.  It is the greatest thing about hockey – you do what you love, and you experience so much beside it too.

“I am all good now, and getting back in shape!”

Of course, there are some bad memories as well. It is not always funny and interesting. Sometimes you lose a game, the other days you get injured. Injury is always the worst thing that can happen to any athlete, because you can not play at all. And if you can’t play, you feel awful. I have one really bad memory from World Championship in 2016, where I hip the boards with my shoulder, but never found out what actually happened to me. Since then, my shoulder constantly hurt until recently, when I had to go to England to specialist to fix me. I am all good now and getting back in shape and feel 200% on the ice, specially with my shot.

WORKING TO FULLFILL HER DREAMS

I graduated from high school in 2017 and I am recently working to make money, so I can attempt university in USA or Canada next year. For half this season I was playing in the highest women’s Switzerland league, but for the rest of the season I am back home in Czech. I will be playing with boys here and working in Sauna and swimming pool. My hobbies are skiing and snowboarding during winter and ball hockey and mountain bike during summer. I also really enjoy going to gym and woking on myself.

My message to young players is to always work hard no matter what, but have fun with it. Do what you love with fun, but do it 100%. Never give up! It’s never easy, but you can do anything you want, it is only in your head. And don’t listen to others. It doesn’t matter what other says it is you who takes action.

Tia Marie Kay: I was able to grow through failing and working on the small things

Tia Marie Kay is definitely not one of the players who started with playing in their earliest childhood. In fact, she began to actively train hockey quite late. But that did not prevent her from loving it less passionately. One of her most favorite ideas is to continue her hockey career in Europe, although she’s aware it will not be very easy. But she thinks that idea will be worth it, as well as the challenge of how far she can reach, advance, and build herself up as a better player, friend and person.

Tia Marie Kay

MAIN MAJORITY OF MY FRIENDS THOUGHT I WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO MAKE IT VERY FAR, BUT THEY WERE WRONG

I started playing when in 2014, I would’ve been 16 at the time. Growing up, I played 3 sports until middle school: basketball, volleyball and tennis. But, being a freshman, I really needed something to do. My boyfriend at the time was really into sports. One of his friends, Jake, played ice hockey. I was unfamiliar with the sport, and was super interested in it. But, my boyfriend thought that it was not a sport that women should participate in because it was tough.

So, having breaking up with him, I was ready to prove him wrong. After telling my mother that I was ready to play hockey, she was shocked at first, but was very supportive. Although I thought the rest of my family were going to be supportive as well, the main majority of them were saying the same thing, “Are you sure? It seems like a tough sport that girls don’t play.” A lot of my friends had the same reaction to. Many of them thought I wouldn’t be able to make it very far. But throughout my journey, I have been proving them wrong every day.

Kay with her first hockey team Northern Utah Indipendence

THE FIRST GIRL ON THE TEAM

My first year of hockey I played for a high school boys club team called Northern Utah Independence. They never had a girl on their team before until I joined. I played with them for three years and I was never a part of a girls team until my second year of playing hockey (2015). That was quit the experience just because the environment with the girls is a lot different from the boys’ team. After the regular season was over during my senior year of high school, I started playing in a summer league (2016). After graduation high school, I then got an offer to go play at McKendree University in Illinois. I am currently playing my 2nd year at McKendree and I am exciting to continue to play with them throughout college.

 

Tia with her teammates from McKendree University

i WAS ABLE TO GROW THROUGH FAILLING AND WORKING ON THE SMALL THINGS

By far some of the best memories that I have had and continue to have throughout my hockey career is being able to meet amazing new people that all come from different backgrounds, and being able to hear about how they started hockey. I have been able to travel around the US for this sport. I wouldn’t have imagined myself after high school being able to travel so much just to do something that I enjoy so much doing.

During my hockey career, I have faced a lot of challenges. But, they were mainly something I had to fix within myself. I started to degrade myself because I was never at the skill level I wanted to be. It was always hard for me to believe in myself. But, when I continued to grow because I failed so much, i knew then I was able to grow through failing and working on the small things, to better the most important aspects of playing hockey.

“It was always hard for me to beleive in myself!”

I LIKE RUNNING, WEIGHT LIFTING AND BEING SASSY

Currently I am a full-time student at McKendree University, while also playing Division 1 hockey. I have planning on majoring in Criminal Justice and minoring in Forensic Studies. I am 19 years old, currently in a relationship by another hockey player from my school. He plays for their D2 team and is a great captain. My average day starts off by hitting the ice with the team for almost 2 hours (10-12) and then after going to school until 9 pm. I really enjoy spending my free time in the library with some of my teammates. If I am not doing that, I am reading James Patterson books. I do part-time work when I go back home (during summer and winter breaks) at Dick’s Sporting Goods. I really enjoy working there, because my co-workers are amazing. My hobbies are running, weight lifting, being sassy, eating and online shopping.

Through failure comes strenght! – a quote that Tia lives

MY FAVOURITE IDEA IS TO CONTINUE MY HOCKEY CAREER IN EUROPE

I have thought a lot about I am wanting to do after graduating college. For example, one of my most favorite ideas so far is to continue my hockey career in Europe. Although I know that journey will not be very easy, it would be worth it. I really enjoy playing hockey and bettering myself in hockey and so I would really like to see how far I can go.

‘THROUGH FAILURE COMES STRENGTH” – A QUOTE THAT I LIVE

My message to young players is to believe in yourself and to never doubt your ability. “Through failure comes strength” is a quote that I live by because it a short simple but means a lot. Although failure seems really hard to handle because failure can be embarrassing, it builds character. Don’t be afraid to fail, always push yourself to be better. It’s not about the nest player, it’s about who works the hardest. Never stop dreaming and don’t let anyone tear you done.

Sandra Abstreiter – a former German hockey player who’s become an outstanding goalkeeper

Sandra Abstreiter is a young German goalie who definitely knows what she loves and wants: her family, friends and hockey. Currently, she is far away from  home, and sometimes it is very hard for her. But then she remembers how hard she’s been working to come to the place where she is now, and everything becomes easier. She was capable to do everything to fullfill her dreams, and I am completely sure she will continue in that direction in her future as well.

MY MOM SUPPORTED US FROM THE VERY FIRST PRACTICE ON

I started skating and playing hockey when I was 5 years old. My older brother tried all kinds of different sports, and ended up with hockey. So did I. I’ve never played any other sport, and have never had as much passion for anything, but hockey. My mom supported us from the very first practice on. She drove us to every practice and game on the weekends, and sacrificed her own free time to stand in the rink while we were on the ice.

The team I started playing for was a boy’s team called TSV Erding. I played for them since 5 -18. At the age of 13, I additionally joined the women’s team ESC Planegg. We won the German championship four times while I was on the team. I started off as a player, became a defenseman and also played some games for the U15 national team. Later, at the age of 15, I became a goalie.

FROM A PLAYER TO A GOALKEEPER

At first, it was just to help out in the older group of the boy’s team. For 2 years I was a player and a goalie, but still played most games as a player.. Later, when I was 15, against the advice of most of my coaches from the national team, I fully switched to being a goalie. My teammates, however, always supported me. My club team coaches helped me getting better very quickly as well.

I’ve never regretted my decision and my passion for hockey. My will to progress only got bigger. Eventually, I was even able to convince my national team coaches they were wrong. I got invited to several camps and games for the German U18 national team. I also participated in one U18 world championship Division 1, where we ended up on the second place. Recently I participated in some camps of the senior women’s national team as well.

Sandra in the national team jersey

THEY SAW MUCH POTENTIAL IN ME

In the summer of 2016 I participated in a hockey camp in Canada and the Beantown classic showcase in Boston. The coaches from the summer camp and the tournament saw much potential in me, and wanted me to play for them in the upcoming season. I already got attention from some college coaches as well. I ended up moving to Canada three weeks later, and started playing for the HTI Stars in Mulmur, Ontario. The reason was to gain interest by college coaches and then to end up going to a college in the USA.

Sandra with her teammates

In October I got my first offer from a Division I school, which I ended up committing to. Now I go to Providence College and play for their Division 1 team. The team has three other goalies this year, therefore, I redshirt this year. It means I practice and travel with the team, but I am not allowed to play for them yet. But soonI’ll be able to compete.

BEING AWAY FROM HOME IS NOT EASY AT ALL

Winning big games is always a great moment in every kind of sport. But the best part about being in a team are the friends you make, and the memories you create together. I am aware that my best friends were and still are some of my teammates. I would not be where I am right now, without the support of my friends and my mom. Moving to Canada last year was definitely one of the greatest experiences for me, as I gained much independence and made great friends. At the same time, I was able to make my dream of playing hockey in college in the US possible.

Goalie Sandra in her lockerroom

The next great experience I am enjoying right now is playing at college. Every day I am thankful for everything, to all people that helped me: my mom,  teammates, and my coaches. They made me believe in myself and motivated me to compete and get better every day.

Though, all these experiences and great opportunities have a price: being away from your friends and family for the most time of the year. It is not easy at all, but at the end it is worth it. I can do what I love most, and I know everyone from home supports my decision.

SKIING IS MY BIG HOBBY

Currently, I am a 19 year old college student, but haven’t decided on my major yet. In my free time my teammates and I go downtown, to the mall, or we just hang out together. Since I was a kid, my great passion is skiing as well. Every winter I try to go skiing, as long as it works with my hockey schedule. Besides that, I always like to meet my friend and do fun things with them.

In my future I don’t really know what exactly I want to do yet. I know I want to be a goalie coach at some point. I am just focusing on what I am doing right now and always try to give my best.

At the end, I would like to tell younger players a few words: never give up on something you really want because someone else doesn’t believe in you. If you really want it, be willing to work hard for it, and show others you are capable of fulfilling your dreams. Be thankful for every opportunity you get, you deserve it because you worked hard for it. Embrace it and always make the best of it.

Phoebe Staenz – the Olympics is the place to measure yourself against the world’s absolute best!

Phoebe Staenz is a very charming 23 year old girl from Switzerland who catches your eye. She is open, witty, kind and ready for anything. After just a few minutes, I immediately loved her. Some people simply radiate positively, and Phoebe is definitely one of them. This Swiss is very versatile:  she used to dance ballet, play piano and drums, enjoys music and comedy. She likes learning foreign languages as well, and speaks 6 different ones fluently. As she likes to say, she makes many mistakes, but people often do not care. The only thing that matters is good communication and understanding.
Phoebe Staenz

SWITZERLAND, CANADA, USA AND SWEDEN

I started playing hockey at the age of 5, together with my brothers. My mum and dad were very supportive from the get-go. Honestly, I was too young to notice any reactions of our relatives or friends. At that period, I was the only girl in my team, but I didn’t care. In my hockey career, I’ve changed several clubs and countries as well.
In the beginning I played only in Switzerland, with 3 different clubs: EHC Wohlen, ZSC Lions, and EHC KlotenWhen I was 15, I left for Canada, and stayed there for a year. Then I came back to Switzerland and finished my education, receiving a Swiss maturity diploma and the IB diploma. I completed my college applications and my ACT testing, and graduated in 2012.Then I left to the US to play hockey, and to continue my education. I started at Choate Rosemary Hall, a prep school, where I played for a year. After playing for Choate, I then attended Yale University in 2013-2014.
The main lessons I have learned from college would be: hard work, dedication and persistence

EDUCATION AND HOCKEY UNDER ONE ROOF

The main difference between North America and Switzerland is that you are able to have both hockey and an education under one roof in North America. They are unique in the way they offer academic and athletic development simultaneously. That was one of the main influences in helping in my decision to move to the US.

My senior year was extremely tough, I took 5 courses each semester. The work load was heavy; I would sometimes forget to eat, and consume so much caffeine I wasn’t able to sleep well. All in all, I needed the experience. The main lessons I have learned from college would be: hard work, dedication and persistence.

I WASN’T GOOD ENOUGH JUST BECAUSE I WAS A GIRL

  Every athlete has a lot of ups and downs throughout their career. They have good and not so good memories as well. Some of the worst moments in my hockey career were when I played together with boys. Since I’ve started to play hockey, I did it on the highest level in every age group until I was 16. Then I got put down, just because I was a girl. Not because I wasnt good enough. For the first time, my gender was the reason I was kicked off a team. I was really dissapointed and felt pretty bad. So, I changed the clubs, and went on to play in the highest U18 boys league, Throughout the championship, my new team ultimately beat the team that cut me due to my sex. It was a great pleasure for me.
Sochi 2010 Olympics: Sweden- Switzerland

MY GOAL BROUGHT SWITZERLAND THE BRONZE MEDAL

I think my best moments were the Olympic games. I really wanted to go to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. But I was cut in December, due to my age. I was 15 at the time, and classified as too young and inexperienced. But I did make to the  next Olympics, 2014 in Sochi, when I was a part of the team that won the bronze medal. Frankly, I helped the team win the bronze medal against Sweden,  by scoring the game tying goal 2:2. It was one of the greatest moment in my life, I played with all my heart and soul.
  

i AM PRETTY SURE MY TEAMMATES HAVE CAUGHT ME TALKING TO MYSELF

Currently, I play hockey in the SDE team in Stockholm. In my free time, I’m trying to learn Swedish, because I really want to speak it fluently by the end of this season. I enjoy reading novels, and, ohh, have I told you I have three brothers? We all play hockey! My parents played football. My mother grew up In Ghana, west Africa. My grandparents still live there.
I think I’m funny all the time. I often make myself laugh. I am pretty sure my teammates have caught me talking to myself. 🙂
Currently I play in Stockholm, on the SDE team
THE OLYMPICS IS A PLACE TO MEASURE YOURSELF AGAINST THE WORLD’S ABSOLUTELY BEST
 

If you ask me about my future, I can tell you only this: I want, and truly wish to play in the 2018 Winter Olympics! That is the farthest into the future I want to plan. Our national team was playing 2 tournaments as the part of the Swiss preparations for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang in South Korea. It is really cool that the Olympics will be hosted there. I love the exposure to different cultures and languages through hockey. I have traveled and met so many beautiful people. The majority of my life lessons have been through hockey or an experience linked to hockey as well. So, I am keen on performing. I will give it all i have got and more. The Olympics is a place to measure yourself against the worlds absolute best. So exciting☺!

After that my future is quite unclear or unwritten. I quite like that. I can go and do anything. I am open to anything and everything, as well as excited to chase after new dreams and opportunities.