women's ice hockey head coach, learned to play hockey on a pond.
The Puck Stops Here
|Q: How many
years have you been the women’s ice hockey head coach?
A: I began my coaching career at Wesleyan in September 1995. I was
hired as the head women’s hockey coach and assistant lacrosse coach. Because
the position was not an adjunct faculty position at that time, I also took a
part-time position in the Physical Plant as a network desktop support
person. It enabled me to be at Wesleyan full-time.
Q: When does the season begin and end?
A: Our season officially begins each year on November 1. Our regular
season games end in late February and then the playoff season begins. The
New England Small College Athletic Conference playoffs are usually the last
weekend of February and the National Collegiate Athletic Association
Championships are the third weekend of March. The goal is to play into
Q: How difficult is it to find talented women's ice hockey players
among all the secondary schools?
A: Recruiting is a challenging task. Women’s ice hockey is a very
regional sport with the majority of players coming from New England and
Minnesota. More and more opportunities have been created in other Midwest
states like Wisconsin and Illinois, as well as New York, New Jersey and
Maryland. There are very few public high school varsity teams. Most of these
are in Minnesota, Massachusetts and Connecticut, so many of the players
still come from youth hockey programs and New England prep schools.
Q: How early are some of your players getting into their sport? Were
they involved in other sports prior to hockey?
A: Many of my student-athletes currently play or have played other
sports. Three of my current athletes are varsity field hockey players, one
is a varsity soccer player and one is a rower. On average, the current
student-athletes have been playing hockey more than 10 years.
Q: What are some of the skills and lessons that you stress year after
A: We will win as a team and lose as a team. I stress fundamentals,
discipline and support. We will always work to continue to develop our
individual skills, have the discipline to play as a team and always support
each other on and off the ice.
Q: At what age did you take up the sport and why? What were some of
the challenges of picking up what is thought of as a male-dominated sport?
A: I began hockey later than most of my players. I started when I was
14 years old. It began as an obsession on the pond with my male friends.
Those were the days of playing on the pond from early morning until dark on
Saturdays. I quickly developed a passion for the game and begged my parents
to let me play. I grew up in Danbury, Conn. and the closest girls program
was in West Haven, Conn. My parents were wonderfully supportive and not only
allowed me to play but drove me several days a week to West Haven for
practices and games. In the 80’s, there were limited opportunities for women
to play in their own league. I always attended summer camps mainly for boys
and played pickup games with boys. The biggest challenge was to get the boys
to treat you as they treated the other boys.
Q: There's a perception that it takes a certain emotional edge to
play ice hockey. Is the perception true?
A: Hockey is a fast paced game that is best played with decisive
players. The best players play with passion and determination. Sometimes
relentless determination can decide a game or season. The Wesleyan 1997-98
team was such a team. With only 12 players that season, they ended their
season by playing for the ECAC Alliance title against Middlebury. They
finished with the best record in Wesleyan Women’s Hockey history of 17-8-1.
Q: Could you tell me a bit about your new assistant coach?
A: We are happy to have Heather Hoffay join our program. Heather has
a lot of NESCAC playing and coaching experience. She is a 2003 Hamilton
College graduate and spent the last two seasons assisting in the Trinity
College women’s hockey program. She is passionate about the game and about
coaching. She is a great addition!
Q: Briefly, where have you played and coached?
A: I was fortunate to play at Providence College. I learned a lot
about the game during my time there. Soon after graduation, I began coaching
youth hockey in South Windsor, Conn. It was an outlet for me to cultivate my
love of hockey while working full-time at Pratt and Whitney as a systems
analyst. Before long, I realized that coaching was my real passion and
aggressively began coaching with the goal of coaching full time some day.
Before coming to Wesleyan, I was an assistant for Manchester, Conn. boys’
varsity hockey, Brown University’s women’s hockey and Yale University’s
Q: How would you compare the nature of women's ice hockey at Wesleyan
with your experience as a player at Providence and a coach in the Ivy
A: Women’s collegiate hockey has growth exponentially since my
playing days and my Ivy coaching days. Since that time, Division III
opportunities have been officially sanctioned and more than 50 collegiate
teams, both Div I and Div III, have emerged. I find the student athletes
here at Wesleyan are as committed and work just as hard as the Div I student
athletes. We have a slightly shorter official season playing in the NESCAC
conference, but these athletes train year round.
Q: How difficult is it to compete in the NESCAC with such national
powers as Middlebury and Bowdoin to contend with every year?
A: It is a challenge to play in the NESCAC, but it is also great
hockey! Our athletes are competitive and want to challenge themselves and
the play best that Division III can offer. For most women, collegiate hockey
is the most competitive hockey they will play in their careers.
Q: Do you root for any National Hockey League teams?
A: Coaching is not a career but a lifestyle. I watch a lot of hockey
on all levels. Unfortunately, I don’t have much time to catch NHL games with
my responsibilities here and raising a family. However, I am still a
die-hard Ranger fan!
Q: Do you use tapes as a tool for the women?
A: We tape all home games and have tapes of all NESCAC away games. We
do use the footage as a teaching tool for both players and coaches.
Q: I've heard rumors your husband, Bill, attends a lot of games with
your boys, Nicholas and Kyle. Does he enjoy the sport as much as you, and
what about the boys?
A: I am blessed with a great husband! Bill and the boys do come to
all home games and some on the road. They are our biggest fans. Bill was not
a hockey aficionado before we dated but has come to love the sport. He
doesn’t even mind getting up at 5:30 a.m. to get Nicholas to the rink for
practice on Saturday mornings. As for Nicholas and Kyle, they love coming to
Wesleyan. They enjoy watching the team play as well as get on the ice
themselves. Game day is just part of the Wright family life.
Q: When you’re not in the rink, what are you doing? What are your
A: Bill and I spend a lot of time working on our home in Colchester.
It is our hobby I guess. We have done everything from remodeling to
landscaping. Besides that, we love to be outdoors as a family. As the boys
are getting older, it is fun to ride bikes and play lots of sports.
Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection