In honor of the third season of the National Women’s Hockey League, I decided to interview my friend and coach Stephanie Mock of the Connecticut Whale. Stephanie, or Smock as she’s known to her friends, graduated from Yale University and coached for Lindenwood University – Belleville’s Women’s team. She also coached my women’s league team the St. Louis Lyons. Stephanie is currently pursuing her graduate degree at Yale University.
Emma: "What are your hopes for the future of the NWHL?"
Stephanie: “The NWHL is only in its infancy but has already come a long way. I hope to see more partnerships with NHL teams like the one between the Riveters and the Devils. It is a huge step for our league and I hope that others follow suit. I wish that I had an NWHL league to look up to when I was younger and I hope that our league encourages female hockey players to remain committed to this awesome sport. I also hope that youth leagues take notice of the female hockey players out there and carve out spaces for them in a male-dominated sport. I played boys hockey in high school because it was the only option, but this option turns many girls away once they get into hitting leagues where they might not match up in size and strength of the boys. Also, the social aspect of being the only girl on a boy’s team is difficult to navigate. I hope that our league can draw attention to the growing number of female hockey players and that youth leagues offer more options for girls.”
Emma: "What are you looking forward to most this season?"
Stephanie: “I am really enjoying playing at a high level again. But I am most excited to represent women’s hockey and to engage with our community. Our pre-season game was packed with girl’s youth teams and you can’t find better fans!”
Emma: "What is the greatest strength of you team this year?"
Stephanie: “Our team is very green this season. I’m sure that face presents some difficulties and will place some more pressure on the returning players, but it is also a great opportunity to create a new team dynamic. We also have a new coaching staff this season so there are lots of changes but the returners seem to be excited about where the team is headed!”
Emma: "Is there a game you’re looking forward to playing in the most this season? Or is there a team that you’re excited to match up against?"
Stephanie: “Having only four teams in the league means that we get to play each team many times so I am excited to see how those games evolve as the season progresses.”
Emma: "Lastly, is it hard to balance a school life with being a professional athlete?"
Stephanie: "Playing in the league while being in a very fast-paced masters program has been challenging but I have had to balance school work and athletics my whole life so I have some practice. I have been enjoying both school and hockey and have been doing my best to avoid putting either one on the back burner.”
Stephanie, we are all so excited to see where this season takes you! We are rooting for you here in STL! And all over the country too! We are all so excited to see the future of the NWHL develop and grow!
More information about the Connecticut Whale and the NWHL at: www.nwhl.zone.