Posted at: 01/14/2013 7:47 PM
Updated at: 12/10/2013 4:06 PM
By: Laura Kennedy
Patricia Elsmore is no stranger to Northland hockey. She played for UMD and coached at CSS. Now, she's leading the Marshall girls.
"It's just a lot more skill development. Understanding of the game, hockey sense, that sort of thing," Elsmore said. "There's a lot more to teach still. You're really able to have a big impact on them."
The Marshall U-14 program is intense. The team practices every weekday morning at 7 a.m. and spends every weekend traveling to play games.
"We're able to work on skill work a lot more. we have more time to do that," Elsmore said. "So I think it benefits the players to be able to be on the ice that often."
For some girls, being a Hilltopper means moving away from home.
Caitlynn Radbourne is from Thunder Bay, and Amber Heidenreich hails from Phillips, Wisconsin. Both say spending nine months apart from family and friends can be tough, but this opportunity is worth the sacrifice.
"It's hard to be missing them for a long time but I get to do this so it kind of makes up with it," Radbourne said.
"I think it's fun. It takes my mind off being away from home," Heidenreich said. "I can focus on hockey and school. I think it's nice."
Aspen Konowalchuk says having out of town players on the team helps bring a different perspective to the bench.
"It's fun to meet people from other places and see how they learn stuff and how they do drills," Konowalchuk said.
These girls are becoming a family. One that plays together and grows together.