Ice hockey: Not just for guys
GL: How did you get into playing ice hockey?
Kaitlin: My dad has played hockey since he was a kid. I tried tons of other sports and none of them stuck. He asked me if I wanted to try to learn how to skate, put me in some classes, and it kind of went from there.
What do you love most about hitting the rink?
I love stepping on the ice. It's the best part when you're moving with the puck and passing it to other people while playing with your teammates. It's amazing.
Have you had to face any challenges being a girl in a guy-dominated sport?
Yeah, there's a few minor things. A lot of guys that play hockey underestimate you, but it's fun to show them up a lot. [Some people think], “Oh it's just some small sport that you do on the side of maybe other sports that are maybe more girl-dominated.” They don't realize how much work and dedication it takes to be a girl playing hockey.
Nutrition is important for every athlete. What's on your menu?
A lot of carbs a few days before the game so you have energy for the game. I try to eat a lot of bananas... so [my] muscles don't get tight or sore afterwards. Basically, I try to keep a balanced diet. Before games, I'll eat protein bars and drink lots of water and try not to eat too much junk food.
You practice twice a week. What do you do on your off-days to stay in peak condition?
I run [on a flat road] where I live. I also do core exercises in my family room. I focus on the most important muscles, like core abdomen. I have a big tarp in my basement that I can shoot on for stick handling and shooting.
What do you do to train during the off-season?
What was your favorite hockey moment?
Oh my goodness. There are many! I would have to say when we have team dinners in hotel rooms. My mom usually organizes the team dinners when we have someone come in and cater for the team in a big ballroom in the hotel room. And it is so much fun, because we're just laughing and playing games, and the parents are talking. It's amazing! The car rides are so much fun with my teammates. There are so many inside jokes that are created then. But I'd say the biggest one moment memory was my first Nationals in Lansing, Michigan in 2010.
You also made it to the quarterfinals in Anaheim, Calif., last year. Congrats! What are your goals for this season?
For this season, my goals are to do well at Nationals, because we are going to Texas this year for Nationals with my new team, the Montgomery Blue Devils. I'm very excited, [because] it's a great group of girls and I cannot wait to go to Texas with them.
What are your hockey hopes beyond this season?
I hope to continue to get better at hockey and play for more advanced levels and teams. I hope to play for a college team. Division 1 is what I am striving for, because it's the best division for girls. After college there is the possibly the [National Women's Hockey League]. Then there's the Olympics.
So, you see yourself going for the Olympics?
Of course! I have to aim high.
What advice do you have for other girls who want to play ice hockey or are just starting?
It can be difficult in the beginning. I remember when I first started it was so scary and I was so nervous that I would mess up, but you just have to keep on working hard. Even at the hardest times, you just have to think to yourself that if I follow through with this I will get better and I will get something out of it. And do not give up. You hear that a lot and it's really cheesy, but you cannot give up or stop.
Photo credits: Ivan Jensen