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.

 

 

 

 

Marisa Reese Maccario: Love the Sport for a Reason, and Don’t Ever Forget It

Marisa Reese Maccario is a 23 years old senior at the University of Connecticut. She’s also a skilled hockey player and a real fighter. Each of her average days consists of going to classes, working, studying, as well as hard on and off ice hockey practices. But she succeeds in coming to an end with all of her duties and responsibilities. Sometimes it’s not easy, but hockey players are used to it. Between the practices and attending classes, she runs the social media outlets for the UCONN sport management program. 

Marisa Reese Maccario

Marisa’s big hobby is coloring. She actually started a color journal, so she can write along with drawing and coloring. She usually tries to do that before going to bed, in order to relax after a long and hard day. If she doesn’t color, Marisa normally reads a book. She’s just finished Aly Raisman’s book, which she liked a lot

I JUST FOLLOWED IN THEIR FOOT STEPS

I started skating at the age of 3. My brother and sister, both older, started playing hockey, so I just followed in their foot steps. Though what is interesting is I am a righty (right-handed). My mom was a field hockey coach and in field hockey you can only play righty. So, growing up around field hockey, when it was time to figure out how to hold a stick, I instantly put it in my right hand.

Marisa with her mom, dad and sister Mia

100 GAME WINNING STREAK AND 2 STATE TITLES

I grew up playing with the boys, until I attended St Mary’s of Lynn, where in 8th grade I played for the varsity. The team was very good and I was able to be part of the 100 game winning streak and two state tittles. Later on, I went to prep school at Cushing Academy, in Ashburnham, Massachussets. As a senior, I was an assistant captain senior, and named the team’s Offensive Player of the Year. After that I played for the Boston shamrocks, for a post graduate year (2013/2014), and then I went to UCONN, the University of Connecticut.

NEW PEOPLE AND NEW EXPERIENCES

Every athlete experiences a lot of unforgettable moments in his career. When it comes to my experience, best memories have been just meeting all the people that I have met through the sport of hockey. Going to prep school and then playing Juniors for a year before going to college I got to meet people that I probably wouldn’t have crossed paths with. It is a wealth that can not be experienced by a man who does not engage in sports.

‘Key is to keep a smile on your face and lean on the friends around you.”

KEY IS TO KEEP A SMILE ON YOUR FACE AND LEAN ON THE FRIENDS AROUND YOU

The only bad thing about any kind of sport, including hockey, is just not always being able to be with your family or attending family events. It is not easy to be separate from your dearest. I know even my teammates here at UCONN have experienced that one family event that you missed where they will all facetime you, and the moment when you get off the phone and you start crying because you wish you were with them.

In those hard moments, key is to keep a smile on your face and lean on the friends and teammates around you. They will understand you for sure, because they have already experienced it.

‘Have fun, and remember why you love the sport.”

THE NEXT STEP IS A GRAD SCHOOL

In my future, a Grad school is hopefully the next step, though that means hanging up the skates at a female “professional level”. But, I do believe I will find a league with a couple nights of a week to play in. My brother plays hockey in such a league, and honestly, it would be fun to be on the same ice with him again, just like in old times.

HAVE FUN, AND REMEMBER WHY YOU LOVE THE SPORT

At the end, I would tell younger girls to have fun, and remember why you love the sport. It goes by fast your time, so take full advantage of it. Especially when you get to the college level, you will realize that its not because you want to do It or have to because of your parents. It is important to be aware it is because YOU want to do it. Love the sport for a reason, and don’t ever forget it. 

 

Jana Kivell – the New Zealander Who Lives for Hockey

In a word, Jana Kivell adores hockey. She plays both inline and ice hockey, and is a 17-year-old New Zealander, currently in her last year at high school. Her life revolves around hockey. If she’s not playing or practicing, she’s watching hockey videos at home. Usually, there is not much free time between school, homework, practices and fundraising for international tournaments, so she is always busy.

Jana Kivell

SHE SETS THE BAR HIGH AND LEADS BY EXAMPLE

This young lady loves hockey so much, that some of her coaches are actually pretty sure that Kivell sleeps with her skates on some nights. For them, she is a player ready to absorb everything. They are impressed with her abilities and with the way Kivell reads the game. Although Jana is talented, she has also worked hard to be the player and person that she is now. 

According to her friends, Jana Kivell is an intelligent girl, who definitely takes pride and excels in all aspects of her life. Sometimes she’s pretty quiet, but also super cheeky. She’s a great leader; she sets the bar high and leads by example. She’s kind and hates to see people being treated unfairly.

New Zealanders – The third place in Inline hockey, China 2017

AN AMAZING INLINE HOCKEY CAREER

I started skating on inline skates when I was 4. A few years after, I started to play inline hockey for my primary school. After playing inline hockey for 8 years, when I turned 16, I started playing ice hockey as well. Inline hockey has taken me on many adventures already. One of my favorites was the AAU Junior Olympics in Hawaii, in 2016. In 2017 I went to China, to play at the FIRS Inline Hockey World Championships with the NZ Junior Women and Senior Women teams. We placed third in Junior Women and sixth in Senior. I also scored the most points (28) in the Junior Women’s Division – 14 goals and 14 assists in 9 games.

Jana and her teammate Laura, WCCOA Tournament 2017.

NEW ZEALAND, THAILAND, HONG KONG, MALAYSIA

In 2016 I started to play ice hockey. I played in the NZWIHL, with the Auckland Steel. A few months later I got the opportunity to go to Thailand, to play for the New Zealand U18 Women’s Ice Hockey Team, at the 2017 IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia where we won gold. At this tournament myself and some other Kiwis also met some girls from the Philippines team. They invited us to play with them at the 2017 Mega Ice Hockey 5’s in Hong Kong. There were three of us who went and played with them.

I WAS NEVER FAR FROM A RINK IN CANADA

For most of the 2017/18 season, I got the chance to take part in an exchange with the Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association in Canada. A program has been allowing female ice hockey players from New Zealand between 15-17 years old to go to Toronto to play and train with the Leaside Wildcats team, for 6-8 weeks. It was definitely one of the best experiences I’ve had. Generally, the Canadian culture was very similar to here in New Zealand., other than hockey and temperature. It was summer in New Zealand and winter in Canada when I went on exchange. The temperature was almost a difference of 50 C° at the time. When it comes to hockey, the main difference I noticed was the special plays like power play and penalty kills. The systems were a bit different to here, but mostly similar. It was fun to play with girls that were all the same age as me. I’ve never had that before. The hockey culture in Canada was one of my favorite things to experience. I was never further then walking distance from a rink. Almost every house had a hockey net on the front driveway. It’s the equivalent to rugby here.

Jana with the girls from the Toronto Leaside Wildcats team

I WOULD PLAY HOCKEY EVERY DAY IF I COULD

The best part about playing hockey is getting to play hockey and be a part of a team. I would like to play every day if I could. I also appreciate how many places the game has taken me so far. It is sometimes a challenge to be away from home for a long time, like when I went to Canada for most of the season. I still kept in contact with my friends and family at home. I also got to make some new friends and memories that I wouldn’t have it if I hadn’t gone.

WOMEN’S ICE HOCKEY AT NEW ZEALAND

The hockey community is not very big in New Zealand. We have around 160 registered female ice hockey players, and 3 female club teams, one in the North Island, and two in the South. The women’s club teams do not have age limit, so anyone can play and be in the same team. The women’s season is usually 12 games per team, and goes from November until February. For the rest of the year, there are mixed leagues that girls and boys can play in. A lot of ice hockey players in the North Island also play inline hockey.

The New Zealand U18 Women’s team, Malaysia 2018

At the moment, I just got back from the 2018 WCCOA tournament (top division) with the NZ U18 Women in Malaysia. I was fortunate enough to be selected as one of the Alternate Captains for the team this year. We came home with silver.

CONTROL THE CONTROLLABLE

In the future I would like to go to Barcelona in 2019 to play inline hockey at the World Roller Games, the same event that was held in China last year. I want to go as far as I can in hockey, wherever that might be.

One of my coaches says to “control the controllable”. I think that’s really important, because it reminds me that I can only control what I do, and my responses to things on and off the rink. It helps me to stay focused on what I’m doing and keep a level head.

 

 

 

Aneta Lédlová – It’s Time for Big Life Changes

I remember the exact moment I saw Aneta Lédlová for the first time. It was 7 years ago, at the mixed (boys/girls) international ice hockey tournament in Prostejov, Czech Republic. I remember how she walked off the ice rink, with her hands in pockets and a snapback turned upside down. As some other girls from Czechia, Slovakia, Germany and Serbia, Aneta also played for the Dívčí hokej team. The team was brought together to the Tournament by a Czech Pavel Krček, a great supporter and fan of female hockey.

I KNEW I HAD BEEN LOOKING AT THE FUTURE HOCKEY STAR

Lédlová was wandering around the ice, stopping occasionally to take a look at the running game. She looked so relaxed and serene. But, an hour later, I couldn’t take my eyes of her. In a word, she was absolutely brilliant: her skating, puck handling and shooting left me speechless. At that very moment, I knew I’d been looking at the future star and the big name in the worldwide women’s hockey. And I was right.

Aneta Lédlová

A PERSON WITH A RARE CHARACTER AND MORAL VALUES

Her friends and team mates have great respect for Ledlova. Many of them are aware that they can learn a lot from her, not just in hockey, but also in life, because of her exceptional character and moral values. She is the one who will listen to you patiently, and give the best advice. She’s very hard working and focused, but she creates the mood that’s exciting and fun – her sense of humor is outstanding and witty. That’s why people love her and enjoy her company.

A PRECIOUS CHRISTMAS GIFT

When I was 3, I got a Christmas gift I fell in love with – roller skates. I put them on my feet and – I skated. Despite being so little, I knew how to skate, and I was really good in it. Since that day, I skated in our flat and outside without ever stopping. After a few weeks, my mom suggested me to try skating on the ice as well. My mother and uncle also played ice hockey when they were young.

And that’s how it all began. As soon as I started skating, I got a stick and a puck, and I felt great, and my family was very supportive.

The 4 Nations Tournament, Budapest 2014, photo by: Somogyi Viktor

FROM THE CZECH REPUBLIC, ACROSS CANADA, TO THE STATES

Until I was 18, I played hockey with boys on the local team, in my home town Kadan, Czechia. I also played some games and tournaments for the HC Karlovy Vary, HC Litvinov and HC Slavia Prague. But my primary club still was in Kadan, and I practiced only with them. It was a good experience playing with boys for so long, because I had an opportunity to practice with stronger and faster players, and to grow and develop in the same way they did.

The ring in honour of winning CHA League, and CHA Play off.

WE WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP

When I was 18, I went to Canada, to the Ontario Hockey Academy, in order to play in a High School League. My goal was to play good hockey, but I also wanted to try to get a full scholarship in the US. After 7 months at OHA, I managed to get it. I spent almost two years in the States, studying at The Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania. As far as I know, there were 34 teams, divided into 4 conferences. I played in a College Hockey America (CHA) League. We played both conference games and non-conference games. Last season we won the Championship, and it was an amazing experience.

The bronze at the World Championship in Budapest is one of my favorite memories.     photo by: Somogyi Viktor

OVER 50 OFFICIAL GAMES IN THE NATIONAL TEAM JERSEY

Apart from the hockey university competition, I also play for the national women’s ice hockey team of the Czech Republic. I competed at three U18 Worlds, 5 senior Worlds, and I played at 2 Olympic Qualification Tournaments. All in all, I think I have played over 50 official matches in the Czech national team jersey, and numerous friendly games.

It is hard for me to chose the best hockey memory. Whenever I play with the national team, we have a lot of fun. But maybe my dearest memory would be my last U18 World Championship, in Budapest, 2014. We competed with the world’s best female players of that age, and won the 3rd place. I think I will never forget that moment, place and team mates who were there with me.

The 4 Nations Tournament, Budapest 2014 photo by: Somogyi Viktor

IT WAS DIFFICULT TO LIVE SO FAR AWAY FROM HOME

When it comes to hockey, I love almost everything. The only thing I do not like is that I can’t live with my family. The last 3 years I spent in the US and Canada. It was very hard for me to live separate from my dearest. I used to call them whenever I could, but I still felt the emptiness for being so far away from home.

BEING WITH MY FAMILY IS THE BEST TIME I CAN HAVE

I am 21 now, and currently I’m preparing for my wedding. For me, she is the best person in the world. She used to play hockey as well, but she was a goalie. Honestly, I love her so much, and I can’t imagine my life without her.

She is the best person I know, and I love her very much.

In my free time, I watch movies or do some other things. My hobbies are video games and TV shows. I love to be with my family. Being with them, for me is the best time I can have. Also, in the summer I play Hockey ball. Last year (2017), we (the Czech National Hockey Ball team) won the World Championship.

WORK HARD AND GIVE YOUR BEST FOR HOCKEY

In my future, I want to go and play at the next Olympics in Beijing. I would also like to play hockey in Sweden or Finland. I miss the US, but it is time to have a new experience. My wedding will be in April, and I hope it will be unforgettable. We plan to have kids and family, and start to live a normal life. Honestly, I am very excited about future.

Playing hockey, you can learn a lot of other people, but most of yourself.

My note to the younger players would be to work hard and give your best for hockey. On the other hand, don’t forget to enjoy it. Hockey is an amazing sport. Playing it, you can have an extraordinary experience, a lot of fun, and friends from all over the world. You can learn a lot about different people and cultures, but most of all – about yourself.

Dalene Rhode: A Girl Who’s not Afraid of Anything

Dalene Rhode is a 24 years old devoted hockey player from the South African Republic, who’s studying to be a teacher. She’s also working at KFC Head Office in the Finance Department. During her free time she plays hockey, and is part of the coaching staff at The Pretoria Capitals as well. She coaches the peewees U12 and U14, and absolutely enjoys and adores her job.

TENNIS, SOCCER, FIELD HOCKEY, SWIMMING AND HIKING

Other than hockey, Dalene loves doing outdoorsy things and participating in other sports like tennis, soccer, field hockey, swimming and hikes. She’s made Junior SA for tennis, where she participated in Egypt. She also played Field hockey, for Provincial teams in Cape Town. Above all, this positive, kind and always friendly young girl is one of 2 registered female IIHF Officials in South Africa. She really enjoys it, and hopes to peruse further at international tournaments. Of course, it will most likely only be when Dalene is not participating in an IIHF tournament as a player.

Dalene Rhode

SHE WILL FIGHT TILL SHE HAS NOTHING LEFT IN HER

According to her friends and teammates, Dalene Rhode is a very unusual player. If you had a chance to see her play hockey, the first thing you notice, would definitely be one of the smallest players with the biggest spirit and crazy energy. Some of her friends claim that they have never seen such short legs move so quickly. She plays her game with no fear, but always respects her opponents. This little dynamite- girl gives 100% effort in a game, she’s very competitive and will fight till she has nothing left in her. Although Dalene might be one of the smallest players on a team, she doesn’t back down to anyone. Some people call her Tasmanian devil, but for her teammates Dalene is a good person, on and off the ice. Many of them are not only proud to call her a team mate, but also a true friend and someone they can rely on.

At the last Qualification Tournament in Bulgaria 2017, Dalene got a reward for the Best Player from South Africa

THAT NIGHT WAS A LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE

My joy for skating started when I was 5 and a half, when I went for public skating with my mom. My parents have come from a community where hockey was not well known. One evening, my mother decided to take me out, in order to make me do something different. She took me for a public skating, and I was really surprised. At the age of 5 I never saw or skated on ice before. But, as soon as a stepped onto the ice, it felt great. It was a natural feeling and just the feel of the ice and how it felt gliding across the rink was amazing. That night was a life changing experience and something I quickly grew to love. The next day my mom wasted no time and signed me up to play for ice hockey. I was the only female junior ice hockey player in Cape Town at that time. Nothing stopped me from coming back ever week, I trained and trained and kept going on until I could fall no more and move with the puck.

Dalene Rhode: The greatest honor is to represent your country.

I REPRESENTED SOUTH AFRICA IN NUMEROUS INTERNATIONAL TOURNAMENTS

Later on, I represented South Africa in numerous International tournaments over the past 8 years. Ice hockey has taught me so many things; it has taught me to be tough, strong, perseverance and to be a leader. Despite me being the tiny little girl, it only made me stronger, brave and outgoing. If I never got involved in ice hockey I wouldn’t be the women/player I am today. My family is extremely proud of me, especially with what I have achieved at this year’s IIHF tournament and how our national team performed.

A PRECIOUS ITALIAN EXPERIENCE

I’ve played hockey in various clubs in South Africa. Now I play for Pretoria Capitals, in the Black Panther ladies team. We compete against the U18 boys teams and also play in the 1st division men’s team. In 2015 I played in Italy for one season, on the EV Bozen Eagles team. It was by far the best hockey experience. I had an opportunity to participate in the EWHL league and Italian Championship as well. One of my dearest memories was the experience in being a part of the Italian team who won the Italian Championship that year. Having to experience that level of playing and competing taught me a lot, and helped me to grow and develop as a player and person.

With the Trophy of the Italian Championship

WITH HOCKEY THROUGH THE WORLD

When it comes to the moments I like to remember, having the opportunity to play in Italy for one season would be definitely on the top. I also cherish a lot of interesting memories from going to the IIHF Development Camp in Finland in 2010. Being introduced to the next level of hockey for the first time in my age group was a precious experience. Also, having to meet players from all over the world and becoming friends with them was a great learning experience. Finally, receiving the Best Player reward for my team and being top goal scorer, alongside Femke (Belgium) and Ela (Croatia) during The Qualificaton tournament of the II B Division in Bulgaria, has been by far the best memory and best tournament for me personally.

Dalene is one of two registered female IIHF Officials in South Africa

THE WOMEN WHO’S NOT AFRAID OF ANYTHING

When it comes to my future plans, my priority is to complete my degree in Teaching and psychology. In the next 5 years I would also like to see myself developing female ice hockey in South Africa. My dream is to work on development in general; I’ve always seen myself representing females from all over the world inspiring young kids to take part in all sorts of sports, activities etc. I would also show everyone, including the new generations, that females can also play a man’s sport and also could do so much more than people think we capable of.  I’ve always dreamed that I would be labeled as “That Women who’s not afraid of anything.” My wish is to start my own Growth and development program in sport with charities and schools.

Hockey connects people: Dalene and Estelle Ip (Hong Kong)

I LOVE WORKING WITH KIDS

On the other hand, I love working with kids, they make me feel energized and happy. We enjoy being and practicing together. Every week and hour with them makes a person feel good and positive. I also want to travel and live overseas, in order to learn different cultures and lifestyles, teaching and playing hockey. This is the most common wish of many hockey players: to play, travel and meet new people from all over the world.

MAKE THE BEST OF IT WHILE YOU’RE YOUNG

Finally, a message to the younger players: have fun and enjoy the game. Make the best of it while you’re young. Don’t let the pressure of the sport get to you, always remember why you play the sport and drive on that.

 

 

 

 

 

Kirsten Nergaard: I’d Like to Live Life to the Fullest

Kirsten Nergaard is not your average 19 year old American. She is a sophomore at Yale University studying economics, and an outstanding hockey player as well. Some of her hobbies include sailing, skiing, cooking and reading. She loves music and really became a country music fan when she went to camp in Minnesota. According to her friends and teammates, she is a very friendly and outgoing person, willing to help everyone. For them, Kirsten is a beautiful person, both inside and out. She doesn’t take anything for granted, and works extremely hard to reach her goals. People love her for she is a caring person and a loyal friend. When it comes to hockey, Kirsten is a quiet hard worker, who will always give her best to better herself and her team.

Kirsten Nergaard

MY DAD BUILT A HUGE ICE RINK IN OUR BACKYARD EACH YEAR

My dad is Norwegian, so he absolutely loves all winter sports. He’s the one who  introduced me to skating when I was 2 years old. He built a huge ice rink in our backyard each year (although because the weather is milder where I live in Connecticut, so it didn’t freeze every year). 

I started to play ice hockey at age 5. I looked up to my older brother and wanted to be like him. Of course, my dad was thrilled about it, but my mom initially preferred that I take up another sport. But when she had seen how much I loved it, she changed her mind, and became also incredibly supportive.

My dad built an ice rink in our backyard each winter.

WE COULD PRACTICE AND PLAY UNTIL OUR PARENTS PICKED US UP

When we were little, my girl friends didn’t understand my love for the sport. But as I grew up, I found other friends who also loved the sport. I was lucky because one of the boys that I played hockey with had an indoor rink at his house. All of our teammates practiced there.  We were welcome almost every day – we could practice, play and do our homework until our parents picked us up. It was so much fun! I played on boys’ teams until high school. Then I went away to school, and played on girls varsity team.

AN IMPRESSIVE ATHLETE’S CAREER

When it comes to her athletic experience, the list of Kirsten’s achievements is truly worthy of all attention and admiration. She was selected in all years eligible (2012-2015) to be in the Team USA National Camp. (In the US, in order to reach the national team selection pool, players have to go through both regional and national player development camps. The Team USA national development camp players are selected from the best performers in the regional camps.) 

A hockey jersey is a part of the wardrobe that Kirsten wears every day.

I was selected to my regional camp as a representative of my home state of Connecticut in 2010-2015, as well as to the National Player Development Camps in 2012-2015. When it comes to the School’s competition, in 8th grade at Greenwich Academy, I was a starter on my school’s varsity team. I changed schools for grades 9 through 12 to Phillips Exeter Academy. At Exeter, I was the second highest scorer on the team in grade 9 and in grade 11, and was the high scorer in grade 10. I was also co-MVP that year and selected as one of the best players in the state of New Hampshire (where my school was), which is called “All-State.” I was the captain in grade 12, and although I was hurt and missed half the season, I was still named to the All-State team again.

WE MADE IT TO THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP SEMI- FINALS

Lastly, in the US club hockey league, when I was younger (up until age 13), I played boys hockey. Starting in high school, I played on a girls team called the East Coast Wizards. In 2012/13, my team went to the National Championship game for the U 14 age group, and finished runners-up (2nd place). I had 3 goals and 2 assists in the championship tournament. In 2013/14, my team made it to the U 16 National Championship semi-finals (final 4) and I had 4 goals, 2 assists in 5 games in that tournament.

The Yale Girls

YALE AND ME

One of my best memories was playing at the “Yale Whale” when I was 7.  I thought it was a wonderful place and told my parents that same day I would attend Yale and play there. And here I am, 11 years after: some dreams really come true, if you work hard and give your best to reach them.

Another favorite memory was playing on a boys’ pee-wee team at a prestigious tournament in Canada. We had a game in the Pepsi Colisée (where the Quebec Nordiques used to play). I scored and the PA announcer called out the goal, just they do in the pros. I was also interviewed by a Canadian paper during another tournament, which was cool.

‘When I played with boys, I used to wear a skull cap, so the other team wouldn’t know I was a girl.”

I USED TO TUCK THE MY JERSEY INTO MY BREEZERS LIKE GRETZKY

Up until college, I used to roll up my jersey sleeves and have the bottom of my elbow pads showing. I also used to tuck the back of my jersey into my breezers like Wayne Gretzky. Also, when I played with boys, I used to wear an skull cap to hide my long hair, so the other team wouldn’t know I was girl.

TWO MINUTES OF SHAME

If I make a penalty, I definitely wonder if the coach is going to start screaming, but I also think about the brilliant musings of hockey legend Denis Lemieux (from Slap Shot): “You do that, you go to the box, you know. Two minutes, by yourself, you know and you feel shame, you know. And then you get free.”

Kirsten with one of her teammates

I’D LIKE TO LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST

When it comes to my future plans, I would like to work in finance to eventually help others raise the capital they require to fund their dreams.