Cetacean Nation had a chance recently to catch up with one of the most popular players in the NWHL, our Whale’s own #31 Keira Goin. Keira as you know, ranked second among all NWHL players in apparel sales this season. A peek here at some of Keira’s thoughts and comments, start to reveal some of why she is one of our favorites.
Part of what Cetacean Nation wants to provide is an opportunity for players to discuss topics and issues of importance and interest to them and the fans. Our passionate Whale fans are familiar with the on ice activities of our Whale over their NWHL careers. But maybe less so when it comes to the genesis of these players who we watch skating, shooting and making saves in the rink.
Cetacean Nation was aware that Keira had been a softball player growing up, and asked about her about her early athletic career. She responded: “I played catcher for a number of years and then switched to playing 1st & 3rd following a knee surgery in high school. I didn't play once reaching college.” That college of course was Utica, where Keira was an award winning goaltender for four years for the Pioneers, finishing her career as the school record holder in wins and shut-outs. Fun fact for Whale fans: before enrolling at Utica, Keira attended prep school at the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut, as did her current Whale teammates #26 Jordan Brickner and #5 Stephanie Mock.
Keira also has this to say about the importance for developing athletes to have a diverse athletic experience. “ I think it's crucial for young athletes to play a number of sports growing up. I joined softball late, but I loved it just the same. Growing up, I played soccer and competitive martial arts, both of which had a tremendous impact on who I am now as a hockey player. I was lucky enough to always be athletically inclined, even as a young child. I would throw a football, play tennis, capture the flag and even street hockey growing up. It has everything to do with the person and athlete I am now.” Cetacean Nation could not agree more, and loves the “capture the flag” reference.
Even a professional athlete sometimes maintains interest in the sports they played in their youth. And they may even be useful in off season training or conditioning. When asked about this Keira replied: “It depends on what I'm training, but for the most part I LOVE integrating other sports into my off-season. For nine years I worked as an elementary school camp counselor and felt like I did nothing but work out all day long. Now, being able to play singles tennis or soccer or softball is always a blast and feels good, too!” Keira also touched on another subject athletes often have to address, and gave us some insight into how she dealt with injury. “When I was injured in college, I would do pool workouts - man those are the hardest!” But she also added “I loved them! They allowed me to still be active even in my recovery” Cetacean Nation thinks it is that type of approach to dealing with a set-back that makes our athletes special. We love Keira and our Whale not just for what they’ve accomplished, but what they have overcome in order to accomplish it.
When I mentioned this admiration and respect that the fans have for the players, Keira responded: “I think what makes our league so special is that it works the other way, too. I feel no separation from fans in the stands. I was a fan less than twelve months ago. I was a regular college athlete, nothing special. We are able to connect because we know that everything we've done to get us where we are is the same thing someone else would have done given a similar circumstance. Most of us know it's environmental differences ,like being introduced to hockey early in life rather than our twenties that separates us. Or being able to play in college when some people didn't have that luxury. But I don't think I've met one player who doesn't know that what we have is a privilege. And we want to share that with as many people as we can. That's the beauty of this league”. Cetacean Nation agrees, and the modesty and down to earth attitude in Keira’s remarks prove her point.
In closing, Keira added “None of us were told when we were 5,10 or even 20 that "that kid is gonna go pro." We worked hard to get better because we just love to do it. And if we can get to a point where little girls at 5,10 or 20 years old can hope to play professional hockey, then we've done something right.” That is the future of hockey, and thanks to the NWHL and players like Keira Goin, that future has begun. Fins Up #31 !!