After 25 years of playing hockey, it is now time for me to retire from this incredible sport and move on to a new chapter in my life. Hockey has always been a big part of my life, a big part of who I am. Hockey has given me so much, made me the person I am today and opened a seemingly unlimited number of doors in my life. I consider myself extremely lucky to have been able to play hockey for such a long time and being a member of this worldwide hockey family.
Before I close this chapter however, I want to share with you my most precious memories that I have from the past 25 years. I could actually write a series of books about the most precious memories I have from hockey. But I’m not going to do that, or should I? 😊 However, I will try and keep it as short and sweet as possible with the highlights of the highlights…
Ever since I was 3 years old, hockey has been part of my life. I remember the day I asked my parents to play hockey, like it was yesterday. Their first answer was, no. Their second answer was that such small equipment does not exist and I guess the many more times I asked after there were other excuses. Good thing I’m suborn and did not give up until they finally said yes and sent me to my first hockey practice. It was my brothers that made the realize that I want to be a goalie. They love hockey as much as I do, and even played it at home in the garage, they wouldn’t let me play with them though, unless I would stand in net. Which I did, and I’ve fallen in love with that position ever since.
I started out playing hockey in the “Bambini” for the Grasshopper Club Zürich (GC) where our home rink was the Dolder. It is with a big smile, that I think back of the time to when I got to play there, it was an unforgettable time and I always love to go back there, as this rink is legendary. I played my first hockey game on that rink, as a goalie of course. As you can see on the picture, I used to have those heavy brown pads that were filled with horse hair. Damn, these got heavy once they got wet! I sometimes had to miss practice because it was raining and the pads didn’t dry until the next practice and they would be too heavy for me… Such a precious memory!
My passion for hockey became stronger and stronger. Whenever we would go on family vacation to Davos, I would bring my equipment and would put part of it on and go skate in Davos, on the biggest nature ice rink in Europe. People were playing “shinny” and of course, there was never a goalie. It was then, that I started bringing my entire equipment to the nature ice and would play goalie during these little games. There was one rule though, they were not allowed to take slapshots on me. I remember me brothers and dad getting really mad if somebody did take a slapshot. I, on the other hand, loved every single second of it. The harder the shot, the more excited I got, especially if I made a save and the players would tap me.
Have you realized that red Jofa helmet on these 2 previous pictures? To this day, I have a love / hate relationship with that helmet. 😊 In the Bambinis, my teammates had blue helmets, in the Piccolos (one level up), my teammates all had white helmets. I received this red helmet, as the only one in the team. It had nothing to do with my goalie position or that I was the only girl on the team, I just got that one. I remember crying to my parents about the fact that I was the only one with a red helmet. Have I mentioned yet, that my parents are the best? No, well here you go, they are! Without further ado, my parents took my helmet and went to get it painted in white, what we all didn’t think of was that it’ll chip once I get a shot on such a helmet. So, soon my helmet was a mixture of white and red. 😊 Was that a sign of my future on the Swiss national team? 😛
After a couple of years of playing on the Dolder, the hockey club GC and Küsnacht merged, to be called GCK and we moved to a new rink in Küsnacht. Although this was at the other end of the city of Zurich from where we lived, the car rides there were rides I will always remember. Mom would pick my brothers and me up right after school and we would drive to Küsnacht for practice. My mom usually pre-cooked dinner for us that she put into those thermo-food containers that we would eat in the car. The food always got a funny smell in that thermos, a smell that I will always associate to those car rides to practice.
The next best memory was when I was playing Mini Top but I got to practice with the Novizen Top, the team that my brother Nicolas was on. It was very special for me, to be practicing with my brother, because the last time we “practiced” together, was in the garage at home or in Davos playing “shinny”. Also, since I am a very competitive person, I always had to be at my best when my brother would shoot on me, which made me better every single practice. While I was practicing with the Novizen Top, I was still playing all the games in the Mini Top.
I believe it was during the time I played Mini Top, that the club GCK merged with ZSC to become GCK / ZSC Lions. The teams that were below the Novizen level, would still remain under either GCK or ZSC, but all the teams in the Novizen upward were getting mixed. The competitiveness increased incredibly, since it was two entire teams competing to get into the top team. Additionally to that extra competitiveness, for me it meant mixing up with other boys that didn’t know me (yes! I grew up playing boy’s hockey). It was very scary. I was able to consider myself extremely fortunate, as I did not have any acceptance issues with the boys at all, I was one of them. I was selected to the Novizen-Elite team, which was the best one in my age group.
It was around that time, when I was in Davos one late summer, and my mom received a phone call for me. The coach of the senior national team called and wanted me to go to a camp. I was 13 at that time. I didn’t know that there is a women’s national team in Switzerland, so I first thought it was a joke. I always thought that one day I’ll make the men’s national team.😊 Once I got an actual letter with the invitation, it hit me. How freaking cool was that? Of course I went to the camp and that was the start of my career with the senior women’s national team. A career that I could not have dreamed in my best dreams!
Not long after my first camp, my first national team tournament followed. It was intimidating, but unbelievably exciting! I was so young though, I don’t think I really grasped the whole meaning of presenting the senior national team on the international stage. My first World Championship that I travelled to was in 2003 in Beijing, China. However, this was the World Championship that got cancelled due to SARS. The disappointment was big, but I knew that this would not be my only World Championship that I would travel to.
A year later, I played my actual first World Championship in Halifax, Canada in 2004. That was insane! It was my first time playing in front of a bigger crowd and the first time I saw Canada’s senior national team (omg!). Let me tell you, those women left a big impression on me, and I wanted to one day be like them. They were so professional! True role models! Probably, if I would have seen team USA first, I would fancy them, but the Canadian’s were first! 😊 So basically, year after year I went to World Championship, 11 times in total. Every single World Championship has its own story, too many to be told in one blog post.
In the meantime, I advanced in the club team to Elite B and eventually Elite A, where we even won the Swiss Championship. I even got to play in a game of the GCK Lions National League B team (that’s the second highest league in Switzerland!), the team that my oldest brother played on. My career seemed like a legit story-book, and it wasn’t about to end there.
When I was 16 years old, I made the Swiss Olympic Team that would travel to the 2006 Olympic Games in Torino, Italy. A dream came true! Surreal, being at the Olympic Games with 16! It was again one of those memories that I will just never ever forget. I remember walking into the opening ceremony like it was yesterday, playing my first Olympic game against Finland and so much more. I definitely wanted to represent Switzerland at the Games over and over and over again.
When I was 19 years old in 2008, I packed my suitcase and my hockey bag and I travelled to Boston, where I would spend the next 5 years of my life. Oo Boston, I’m smiling big time right now.😊 I was again incredibly lucky and was offered a full-ride scholarship to Northeastern University. Without much hesitation, I committed there and had the best 5 years of my life. The hockey experience was unreal, as during the 4 years I played in the NCAA we were able to turn the program around and win the Beanpot Championship as well as the Regular Season Championship. I was recognized with multiple awards for my performance, but the most prestigious was that I was selected top 3 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier award. This award is given to the best female college hockey player in the USA. On top hockey, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Supply Chain Management, Marketing and Management. Most importantly though, I made friends and memories for a lifetime!
During my time at Northeastern University, I went to the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada. Do I need to explain anything? Playing at the Olympics in the country where hockey was invented? I can’t even find words to describe this event, my feelings or anything…
So, only two years later was the World Championship in Burlington, USA. The memories I have from this Worlds are mostly bad memories, and yes, not all my memories are good ones. Bad memories are memories too and in that case displayed how important friends and teammates are. Although nothing was going right within the team, we made it all the way to the bronze medal game, and WON! For the first time in the history, Switzerland won a bronze medal, what a feeling!
It was in my last year of living in Boston, when I could not play in the NCAA anymore, that I was drafted by the Montreal Stars in the CWHL. I never played for Montreal though, instead I put a Brampton Thunder jersey on in the same league. I was travelling back and forth between Boston and Toronto, just to play the game that I love and finish my degree. It was such a fun season, and again, I met so many great people that made my time in Toronto very special.
After the season in the CWHL and graduating from Northeastern University, I packed my life together again and moved back to Zurich where I started working at the IIHF and played in the men’s 1. League in Bülach. It wasn’t easy going back to men’s hockey after playing women’s only for 5 years, but I felt like this would be right in regards to preparing for the 2014 Olympic Games. It was a difficult season, much travelling, lots of working and always the Olympics on the back of my mind.
Then, boooooom! An Olympic bronze medal is hanging around my neck… Everything went so fast, and the memories of Sochi still leave me speechless. Definitely the biggest success in my entire career! Or would there be more?
It was after Sochi that I originally wanted to retire from hockey, however that success we had made me rethink and I felt like that with hard work, another success like that would be possible. It was then, that I decided to certainly do another 4 years. These 4 years were difficult though, a lot was not going the way I would have liked it.
I needed a change of scenery and moved to Linköping, Sweden to play in the SDHL. While living in Linköping, I worked at RUAG Space which was yet again a great experience where I met so many great people. First season in Linköping was really good, but unfortunately we came short in the playoff final to Lulea. The second year in Sweden started with me enrolling at Linköping University as a Master Student in order to obtain a MSc in Business Administration. Hockey wise, the second season was a disaster. I injured my knee and the rest is history.
After such a bad season, I wanted to make this season count big time. I wanted this season to be a season to remember. I worked so hard, on and off the ice, I wanted to perform my best at all times. I had a really strong first half of the season, which raised my motivation more and more. Everything just felt right, practices, games, university and much more. Then Pyeongchang came…
Pyeongchang being my 4th Olympic Games was still incredible. It just never gets old. It’s so special and growing older, I value it even more. We had a great start to the tournament, ended 1st in our group, beating Korea, Japan and Sweden. Everything was looking pretty damn good, if it wasn’t for the Russians…
Unfortunately we didn’t stand a chance against the Russians, they were simply better than us. I was very upset, as we couldn’t repeat the success we had in Sochi. But that’s hockey, it’s a game. That we were able to capture 5th place in the end was a success and one that we can be proud off, even if we all wanted to be ranked higher up.
After the Olympics, I went back to Linköping where we had to finish the season and win the Swedish championship. Unfortunately we came short again in the playoff final to Lulea and we “only” won silver. Writing this now, 2 months later, I think we can be extremely proud of making it to the final, as it was surely not an easy path there.
I previously wrote that I wanted this season to be one to remember and I surely will. Not in terms of hardware success, but in terms of performance, power and motivation I had. It was a great season for me and I want to retire from hockey on a great season…
So, this is it… I’m retiring.
It is with a heavy but happy heart that I’m retiring, but I will always keep the memories with me that put a smile on my face every single day.
I want to thank everyone that has somehow supported me throughout those 25 years of pure awesomeness! It would not have been possible without every single one of you. Thank you!
Stay tuned for what’s my next chapter!