In sports, just like in the Highlander, in the end, there can be only one. Part of what defines sports competition is the defeat of the many by the few, and finally the defeat of the few by the one. But just as in the end there can be only one, it is true in some beginnings as well. Like the NWHL for example. In the beginning, now five years in the past, there was only one team to win the first ever game. That one team was our Connecticut Whale. And there was only one player to serve as Captain of that squa. : And that one player was our #56 Jessica Koizumi. And in the beginning, there can be only one player who scored the first ever goal in NWHL history. And let it never be forgotten, that one player is also Jessica Koizumi.
So to celebrate the fifth anniversary of that historic game and moment, we revisited the interviews of those who have graced these pages with the accounts of not just their life in hockey, but their memories of October 11, 2015. And we will inundate our social media platforms on October 11, 2020 with their thoughts, reactions, and memories of this day five years ago. And to kick that all off, we went back to our conversation with Jessica about that first goal in that first game that we just mentioned. Jess told us
“The first goal certainly wasn’t the prettiest goal that I have scored, but it was top 2 most memorable. It’s hard for me to even put into words the feelings that I had when it happened because that whole game was a blur to me. The goal happened very early on in the first period. I can’t take much credit for it since Kelli Stack gave me a perfect open net rebound from her shot. I remember scoring and then everything including the rest of the game sort of went blank for me. It was one of those moments that you just wanted time to stop. But I do remember how emotional I was during the national anthem. I didn’t realize what that goal stood for until I had checked my phone after the game. There were tweets, messages, and footage on the news about the goal being the first in the NWHL. It’s definitely a fun fact I will always treasure, but I treasure it with my teammates and other pioneers that have paved the way to make professional hockey for woman a reality.”
Jess continued “The NWHL marketing did such a remarkable job filling that arena that the atmosphere was incredibly special for us players. Tickets were sold out including standing room. There were numerous media in attendance including friends and players I have coached. I focused on taking it all in and to enjoy the many moments during that day. I currently have the puck in my office at work and my stick was requested by the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.” “I try my best to follow the league whenever I can. Thank you NWHL, for the risks you took to create history for the first paid league in North America. And thank you fans, for the ongoing support, and thank you hockey for being the greatest sport there is! I will forever be thankful I was a part of it! “
It was 1,085 days after she left the Pod and the NWHL to coach, first at Ohio Stars, and then at her current home at the University of Vermont, that Jess the OW, became a “Once And Future Whale”. On February 24, 2019 our Season One legend pulled on a Whale sweater once again to join the play-off push in Season Four. When we talked to a smiling Jess immediately after the game, she admitted it was an incredibly tough two weeks to get ready to answer the call. But, we will never forget that she did. Once a Whale, always a Whale, Fins Up Forever Jess!