Sarah North and her hockey experience


Ali Czarnecki, Sports Reporter

Sophomore Sarah North participates in a sport that only a small percent of girls play: hockey. Sarah has been playing hockey since she has been five years old. Sarah started playing with her brother, they would use roller blades and plastic sticks, then Sarah realized her love for the sport. I asked Sarah more about girls hockey in general and more about her personal experience.

Q: Who influenced you to play hockey?

A: “When I moved to Michigan in second grade there was a boy who always told me girls were weaker than boys and it made me so mad, he would say it all the time. He told me, girls, we’re only ‘allowed’ to dance and play tennis; sports that don’t include contact. I decided that no matter what I would show him he was wrong. So, I started my first hockey lesson. Within one month I had completed 2 months worth of training. I was able to skip lessons I had already got a hang of. I tried out for my first hockey team (Grand Rapids Griffins) when I was seven. I made the team and ever since that day, my brother and I spend every day after school passing pucks in the basement or outside in the garage for hours. He and my dad were and still are my two biggest influences through my entire hockey career. If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be where I am today. They have given me the courage to continue on with this sport when times get rough and I feel like I can’t play anymore or I get frustrated with myself they always talk me out of giving up.”

Q: Who do you play for?

A: “I currently play for West Michigan Elite AAA. This is my second year playing AAA and my first year playing for West Michigan elite (AKA Meijer).”

Q: What characteristics do you like about hockey?

A: “It makes you a tough person, you learn not to put up with people. When you’re on the ice, you’re not gonna let anyone push you around and after a while, you relate that to your life as well. It also means you’re not gonna let people mess with people you love. You make an entire family made of 18 girls: your best friends. You know they will always have your back whether that means you’re on or off the ice. Not many girls play hockey it’s pretty uncommon in our town, so right away people think you’re different (in a good way I believe) and I’ve always thought that was really cool, people also tend to not mess with you because they think just because you play hockey you’re some tough mean person which in my case isn’t so true so that’s not a great thing but I’ve gotten used to it.”

Q: What is your favorite hockey memory?

A: “I have a couple I guess some are good some are not, my favorite memory has to be winning districts with my team last year. We went into overtime and it was so nerve racking but I would do it all over again if I had the chance to. After we all jumped on top of the goalie and ended up in a huge dog pile we were awarded our trophy and it symbolizes all the work we put into all the sweat and tears. My other favorite memories are the times I’ve gotten to spend with all my teammates in hotels. We’ve broken windows, watched hundreds of scary movies, countless plane rides together. Those are the memories I will remember forever. What makes hockey different: I think it’s different for me because like I said, it’s uncommon for girls to play this male dominant sport. It can be annoying that no one else plays because no one else can relate. It’s also a lot more contact than a majority of sports that girls play (which I think is dumb) and it definitely makes you learn how to work as a team with 18 other people, you have to be able to trust each other completely.”

Q: What is different (rule wise) about girls hockey vs. boys?

A: “Boys can check but girls get a 2-minute penalty if we check in the game. I think it’s dumb but I don’t think that rule will ever be change.”

Q: How often do you practice in hockey?

A: “I practice 2-3 times a week for two hours. I have tournaments a majority of the weekend and if we don’t have tournaments we have games so I could have anywhere from 1-6 games in a weekend. We have an hour workout before every practice as well. Our practice is split up between power skating and working on skills and units.”

Q: Since you also participate in Crew, do you think it helps condition for hockey?

A: “For the most part I play hockey year round. I never really stop skating every week. During the summer my team still has practices but that isn’t considered our official season. We have a month and a half-ish off after April, that’s my offseason. But that’s when I start conditioning for Crew. Crew works all the same muscles that I use in hockey so I started Crew to stay conditioned so I don’t fall behind and it’s easier as a lot more fun than going to the gym every day. I think I gained more stamina and muscles towing then I ever have training in the gym. Crew is amazing I love it just as much as I love hockey. The people are amazing and it’s so much fun. Plus it’s not a typical sport so I also love that about Crew, very unique.”