Kaycie Anderson begins to celebrate with #17 Emma Greco after netting her first NWHL goal. Photo by Troy Parla

KAYCIE ANDERSON: BORN TO RUN (AND SKATE)

Cetacean Nation would like to say we recently caught up with our Whale’s  #9 Kaycie Anderson, but we’ll have tp phrase it differently. Kaycie is not only a hockey player, but a runner as well, and one we’re pretty sure we could not catch up to. So more accurately, Kaycie slowed down and shared her thoughts with Cetacean Nation on a number topics, including her track career. But let’s start at the beginning, and see how this Minnesota native began her hockey career. 

 

Minnesota is known as the Hockey State, and also the Land of 10,000 Lakes. And when you consider that much of the state lies between the 45th and 49th parallels, the lakes freeze. And, besides being a place to ice fish for walleye and pike, frozen lakes are the rinks of “pond hockey.” Kaycie spoke about this early experience: “I started playing pond hockey at a young age, but didn’t start organized hockey untiI I was probably 9 or 10, which in Minnesota is late. All the girls my age were in the top groups while I was back in the beginner group but I caught on quick and fell in love with the sport.” Kaycie, who grew up just west of Minneapolis continued: “When I first started playing hockey I lived in Mound, MN on Lake Minnetonka where hockey was something everyone did growing up, especially living on the lake. The high school I went to (Orono HS) is comprised of several different towns in the surrounding area including Maple Plain and the hockey culture is still very prominent in the west metro area.” She got off to a quick start in her career at Orono, and even though she led the team in scoring for four years, it was a bumpy ride. Kaycie recounts: “I made the varsity team in 8th grade for Orono High School but it was a tough five years. I think we had four head coaches come through in those five years. We were always good but could never beat those private schools. That was part of my decision to play U19 club hockey which was an eye opener! I played 65 plus games a season all over Canada and the USA. That was a lot of fun having the opportunity to play that many games and was a great experience. I played in the Two Nations (US /Canada) summer league for two seasons for two different teams, and won the cup both times. The best part of that league was playing with and against all the talented players who went on to have outstanding college and now professional careers.”

 

Cetacean Nation asked Kaycie how she decided on where she would play her college hockey. Kaycie related: “Well, I originally had no intention of ever playing hockey out east. I had to weigh my options play for a Division III team that competes for National Championships or play for a Division I team that doesn’t go over .500.  I had no idea what Norwich was until a few weeks before I visited. My summer coaches Jenny and Rob Potter had many contacts and someone they knew said there were three teams out east looking to add a forward last minute. They all had the major (Psychology) I wanted: Norwich, Plattsburgh, and Quinnipiac. The only one I visited was Norwich and the girls on the team that stayed for the summer were amazing and they sold me on the school. My four years at Norwich were great,  We always had a National Championship contending team and I had a pretty good career there.” Cetacean Nation thinks it was more than pretty good, it was outstanding. By the time she finished her career at Norwich, Kaycie was selected a CCM All American, the ECAC-E Player of the Year, a NE Hockey Writers All-Star, was a Laura Hurd Award Finalist, and was selected to the NCAA Championship All Tourney Team. She also finished her career with the Cadets with 118 points. Kaycie concluded her remarks about Norwich with a shout out to her former team and teammates: “I am very proud that my freshman teammates, now seniors won the National Championship this past March! Go Wick!”

 

Kaycie’s transition into the NWHL was smooth once she hit the ice, but not so much in getting to that point. She explains: “After my senior season I signed up for the Whale camp but it happened to fall on graduation weekend. Then again the next season I signed up,  but I had broken my hand before Free Agent camp. Last season I said I’ll give it one last try. I was finally in a place where I had the freedom of moving wherever, when Ryan Equale contacted me. I was pretty excited with the idea I could play another year of competitive hockey with some of the best female hockey players.” Kaycie played in fifteen games for our Whale in this her rookie season, including pre-season games against the Russians and the Isobel Cup game vs the Rivs. Cetacean Nation notes that Kaycie did a great job of keeping the Whale at full strength, drawing just one penalty on the season. It is worth noting that her goal being celebrated in the photograph accompanying this article was scored after Kaycie had skated around former Defender of the Year Courtney Burke, and then sent a wrist shot top shelf on former Goalie of the Year Katie Fitzgerald, 

 

Cetacean Nation wanted to know Kaycie’s take on the NWHL expansion, and if you have read this far, you won’t be surprised by the first part of her reply: “I’m super excited that the league expanded to Minnesota!  The State of Hockey deserves at least one, if not more, professional women’s hockey teams for the number of female hockey players they put out. As for the next expansion I’m thinking Pittsburgh, we played one of our home games there last season vs Buffalo and the atmosphere was electric and the facilities were beautiful. I think they will probably have to add a few teams closer to Minnesota though maybe make an East and West (Midwest) Division.  Maybe Detroit, Chicago, or Winnipeg, all big hockey hot beds, could work.” Cetacean Nation agrees, and is intrigued by the idea of the NWHL expanding north of the border.

 

We asked Kaycie about how things were going during her first professional off season. She answered “Off season training so far consists of rehabbing previous injuries and prehabing to avoid new ones. And doing Mike Boyle (Strength & Conditioning facilities in Woburn  and Middleton, MA) workouts as well as other routines I’ve done in previous off seasons and some new ones I’m experimenting with to keep things fresh. Also trail running with my dogs every day and just lots of outdoor activity.” Kaycie’s mention of her trail running adventures prompted Cetacean Nation to delve into her running career. She gave us ths recounting of her earlier scholastic races. “I ran varsity track and cross county since 7th & 8th grade through HS. Besides the physical benefits of running I think my running career helped me learn to set and achieve my personal goals since I was trying to do my best and continually beat my best times. The atmosphere is also amazing at track meets! The events I ran the most and had the most success in were the middle and long distances 400m/800m (Individual and relay) and the 1600m, but I ran everything. Some meets my coaches would make me run short distances like the 100/200m just to work on acceleration off the blocks which was helpful for hockey. And other times I would be stuck running the 3200m which was my least favorite but I was one of the versatile runners that was up for any challenge and any opportunity to better myself.” 

 

Kaycie also ran fall cross country, which in Minnesota high schools is often contested over a 5K course. So if you combine that with her spring track races, it means that she competed in every high school running event from 100m to 5K. Or more simply, from the length of a football field to over three miles! And she did not just compete, she excelled, earning  All-Conference honors in both cross country and track. Versatile runner is an understatement, and Cetacean Nation thinks that the kind of will it takes to pound around a track for eight laps, or through the woods for three miles, translated well onto the ice for #9. Fins Up to Kaycie Anderson for sharing her story with us, and we look forward to her continuing to add to it next season. Kaycie may have been born to run, but was also born to skate. And of course, play hockey.