05 October, 2013

Emily Morris

“I didn’t really have a choice.”  That’s what I tell people when they ask how I ended up being a hockey player.  For as long as I can remember, hockey has been a way a life in my household.  1986, the year I was born, my father was an assistant coach at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY.  1989, my dad took a job with Clarkson University 30 miles down the road in Potsdam, NY where he remained the head coach for 15 years.

Like a lot of girl’s in the sport, I wanted to keep up with my big brother.  In doing so, I fell in love with the game.  Unfortunately, we were two years apart and never had the opportunity to play on the same team.  That didn’t stop me from always wanting to be better than him.  Lucky for me, he has always been one of my biggest supporters.

Growing up in a small town, I played on boys’ teams and often I was the only girl.  To be honest, I loved it.  To this day, I love being one of the boys.  I still have a girly side, but playing with the boys taught me a lot about having thick skin, it improved my skills, and helped me gain a lot of self-confidence.

My first year playing girl’s hockey was a huge transition, but looking back it was worth the frustrations.  Learning a different style of play and dealing with a group a 20+ girls was very new to me.  I was fortunate to play on some great teams.  In 1998 I was 11 and played on the U15 Potsdam-Canton Blizzard.  That year we won the New York State Championships and went to the USA Hockey National Championship in Anaheim, CA.  For a team of girl’s from nowhere New York, this was an experience of a lifetime.  We ended up taking 3rd place and our parents rented us a limo to take us to the airport after our final game.

I played on two more National bound teams.  I went to Detroit, MI with the Blizzard, and then played for the Syracuse Stars and attended Nationals in Anchorage, AK.  The decision to commute three hours to Syracuse, NY was a big decision for my family.  My parents recognized my need to play with more elite players in order for me to pursue my dream to be a division one athlete and USA Olympian.  Fortunately, a good friend of mine also decided to make the switch to the Stars.  We would spend our weekends carpooling to and from Syracuse, NY and various tournaments throughout the Northeast and Canada.  In 2001, we won the U19 USA Hockey National Championships in Anchorage.  While we were a combination of girls from throughout New York, we were all witnesses to the ability of individuals coming together to accomplish something great.

My next chapter begins with a decision to go to prep school.  After visiting the Taft School in Watertown, CT, I knew it was where I wanted to be.  Being away from my family was an incredibly tough transition for me.  I experienced homesickness and questioned my decision.  I played hockey, soccer and rowed crew.  After hockey season started, I knew I was where I was supposed to be.  I played with an amazing group of girls and developed friendships that are still dear to me today.  In my opinion, the boarding school atmosphere is a wonderful way to prepare student athletes for college.  With a new found independence, I learned time management, how to study effectively, how to be confident in myself and my abilities, and how to overcome challenges.

One of the toughest points in my career came during the recruiting process.  With so many schools out there, it was extremely difficult to narrow down my choices.  Interest from various schools helped with my decision, but I was hoping to have an “ah ha moment” to make the process easy.  Eventually I narrowed my choices to Princeton, Boston College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  I did an official visit to BC and liked the city, the school, and the team, but I was not convinced thatit was where I wanted to be for the next four years of my life.  A few weeks later I went on an official visit to UW.  I was blown away.  I went to a football game, a men’s hockey game, a few women’s games and walked around Madison.  I knew I could not pass up the opportunity and signed my National Letter of Intent soon after.

I spent four years as a Badger and I would not trade my experiences for the world.  I was voted Co-Rookie of the Year my freshman year.  I was elected to the WCHA First Tournament Team, we were WCHA Regular Season Champs, WCHA Tournament Champs, and NCAA National Champions my sophomore year.  We were able to capture all three titles again my junior year.  Finally I was elected team captain my senior year and we were NCAA National Tournament Runners-Up.

In 2007 I was a member of the USA U22 Team after having spent year after year attending National Camps in Lake Placid, NY.  I told myself that this was my shot at becoming an Olympian.  If I was good enough, I would be asked back, if not, I knew it was not meant to be. Unfortunately it was not meant to be.

Although I did not reach my goal of becoming an Olympian, I have used my experience as a student athlete to get to where I am today.  I have coached at Shattuck St. Mary’s School in Faribault, MN, volunteered at St. Anselm College in Manchester, NH, and have been offered various jobs outside the hockey world due to my real life experience in athletics.

Hockey is a sport that is and will always be a part of who I am.  I am proud of what I have accomplished and thankful for all this sport has done for me.  I look forward to seeing what doors this wonderful sport will open for me in the future.

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