The Swiss Army knife is an iconic multi-tool known throughout the world for it’s versatility. Cetacean Nation thinks that the Whale’s #10 Sophia Agostinelli, is the athletic equivalent. Her versatility spanning several sports is the very definition of a multi-tool athlete. Skating and shooting on the ice, throwing and catching on the field, or tackling and running on the pitch, Sophia has it covered. Cetacean Nation was able to catch up with the woman with no off season, in between games and matches, and she gave us some great insights to hockey and her athletic and scientific careers.
We asked Sophia about her early athletic days, and what the hockey culture was like in the part of Massachusetts she grew up in around Framingham, about 25 miles west of Boston. She explained: “I lived down the street from a rink and when I was about nine I tried out figure skating. I had wide feet so the skinny figure skates were a pain. I asked to skate in hockey skates so I did a year of figure skating like that before I decided “if the shoe fits”. So hockey it was from that point on, and she was in a good location to start her career. When we asked about the local hockey culture, Sophia summed it up like this: “Hockey has always been big in my area, that much has never changed.”
Cetacean Nation Is aware of Sophia’s careers in multiple sports, and asked her about how her various sports might compliment each other. She responded: “Lacrosse has always been a mental game for me, I often had to face guard the best player on the other team by getting in their face and following them around. I brought that pest behavior into hockey sneaking behind people to pickpocket them right as they’re taking a shot and so on. Rugby has taught me that the best way around something is through it. I just kinda push through my obstacles no matter how big. I’ll run with people hanging on to me, I skate like that too”.
Sophia’s multi sport career really took off during her years at Framingham High School where she had great success in hockey and lacrosse, and also played varsity soccer. She skated for the Framingham Flyers varsity for four years, and as Captain and first team Bay State League All-Star her senior season. She helped lead her team to three Bay State Championships through her junior year, earning all-star accolades twice in that span. During those days she also played for her club team, the Minuteman Lady Flames in Marlborough with their legendary program out of the New England Sport Center. Reflecting on those days Sophia told us: “My high school was known for being a lacrosse power house, which is where I got my visibility for colleges. It’s hard to get seen by hockey coaches at a public school.”
So Sophia began her lacrosse career during her junior year, and by the time she finished her senior season, everyone had noticed her, including Holy Cross. As a Boston Globe and Bay State All-Star defender, she led her team to the Division 1 State Championship. She also played club lacrosse with a very successful Massachusetts Elite squad, so when the time to choose a college arrived, the hard work paid off. Sophia made the logical choice: “Holy Cross offered me an almost full ride, and it offered my major, which was hard to pass up”. Sophia thrived in Holy Cross’ lacrosse program as a defender during her four year career, garnering a Patriot League Player of the Week, and earning a second team All-League selection. She finished her career on the lacrosse field as third all time in forced turnovers, typically a specialty of the most athletic defenders.
Sophia’s interesting off ice and field career path as a scientist also took shape at Holy Cross. But as Sophia explained, it also had deeper roots. “I have always been obsessed with medical shows like Mystery Diagnosis,, Untold Stories of the ER, and Dr. G: Medical Examiner. When my role model died of cancer I became determined to work on saving lives and easing pains. My Master of Biomedical Engineering focuses on that idea.” Cetacean Nation’s own research revealed that it is an incredibly complex and cutting edge field of study. Short version, it is an interdisciplinary integration of engineering sciences with the biomedical sciences and clinical practice. The applications are wide ranging, dealing with myriad issues like tissue regeneration, bioelectronics, biomaterials and biorobotics, just to name a few. We asked Sophia about her current post graduate academics in this field, and she told us “I am in my first semester but have enjoyed my Masters program so far. I learned something new every day in my classes, whether it be some coding or engineering concept that I never expected to learn. I’ve started to develop my thesis on disrupting the Alzheimer's pathway, possibly by using nanotubes which have been shown to affect protein shape.” Cetacean Nation is confident that her scientific endeavors will fulfill Sophia’s personal mandate of saving lives and easing pain. Just another tool of our remarkable Swiss Army Knife.
After graduating from Holy Cross, Sophia continued her playing career overseas in Germany. She played lacrosse for a Championship Hanover Club, and remained in Germany to play a season of hockey with some of her lax teammates. So even after being away from the game for quite awhile, she had an opportunity to skate off a little rust before joining the NWHL. Sophia also told us: “I coached abroad for the German women’s national team, Hannovers DHC, and the Zurich (Switzerland) Lions. I also was selected to be on the inaugural Team Italy, where we took an ambassador trip to Italy to share practice plans and skills with the Italians.” When we asked Sophia to share what it was like for such a young person to be on that adventure, she replied: “My time abroad taught me self-reliance and tested my comfort levels. My message to others is that everyone should travel somewhere foreign once in their life if they can, and travel alone to get the full alienating experience. You get so much more when you immerse yourself fully and embrace the culture.” Sophia continues to coach lacrosse back here in the states at the University of Bridgeport, and told us “I coach because I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned and giving back. I have a lot of patience, which is key to being a good coach. I enjoy coaching at Bridgeport because all the athletes are skilled enough that I can focus on deeper concepts.”
Cetacean Nation also wanted to know a little about Sophia’s “off season” training. She replied: “My fitness regimen hardly is regimented, I am just active daily with the variety of things that I do. I coach which can be exercise on its own. I play rugby three times a week. Hike once in awhile, run when I have extra time. Dance whenever there’s music playing. And skate whenever there’s free ice. I have a hard time getting through the day without doing something physically exerting.” Cetacean Nation has come to realize that part and parcel of being a Swiss Army Knife, is to have off hours, not off seasons. As one of the most popular players in the NWHL, Sophia ranked 16th in player apparel sales last season. She was also honored.by the fans and league with one of the three Stars of the League Awards. Sophia said at the time: “I’m elated! Being a part of the league has given me more than just an opportunity to continue playing the sport that I love, it has given me the opportunity to inspire others – something I’m incredibly grateful for.”
The NWHL additionally praised Sophia and Whale teammate #94 Grace Klienbach with these words: “The NWHL is appreciative of all of our players’ extraordinary service to their communities, and would like to give a special shout-out to Grace Klienbach and Sophia Agostinelli for their efforts above and beyond in Connecticut.” Cetacean Nation agrees, and wants to add one more note. Cetacean Nation’s online presence would not exist without Sophia’s vision and inspiration. We suppose those are just two more of the multi-tools of the Whale’s extraordinary “Swiss Army Knife” #10 Sophia Agostinelli.