Cetacean Nation caught up with our #26 Jordan Brickner at the end of the Dog Days of Summer after Season Three. So it seemed logical to begin our interview discussing, well, dogs! And who better to talk to about hounds than Jordan, as it turns out. She picked up our canine lead like a loose puck, and buried the doggie biscuit. Jordan told us “I love animals, especially dogs. Almost two years ago now, my boyfriend and I started really looking in to rescuing a dog, preferably an older one. We were particularly interested in adopting an older dog because they tend to be the ones that are often left in the shelters longer than say a puppy. We toyed with the idea of getting two dogs so they would always have a buddy. After a few unsuccessful attempts in adopting a dog, we stopped looking for a few months.”
Jordan continued “Then, I went home for a holiday. I grew up with Cairn Terriers being our family's dogs, so I have always had a love for the breed. While I was home, one of my sisters came across two bonded, senior Cairn Terriers looking for a new home. We jumped at this opportunity to add the two to our family, and a few weeks later, we welcomed Murphy and Penny into our home.” Cetacean Nation loves pet adoptions, and loved Jordan’s remarks on the subject.
Jordan concluded, saying “Adopting a pet is such a rewarding experience. Murphy and Penny came from a previous home where they were often neglected and mistreated. Through love, attention and training, they quickly warmed up to us, and allowed us to be their new family as well. We have now had them for 1.5 years, and it has been the most loving and fulfilling experience.Cetacean Nation recalled, and felt compelled to mention, that besides their famous eerily beautiful singing, Whales also bark. Just like dogs. And really, how cool is that?
We have watched Jordan skating on the defense in over fifty games for the Whale in her NWHL career. Looking back a bit, we asked Jordan, a native of Lake Forest, Illinois, about how her hockey career got started. She told us
“I first started skating when I was 4 or 5 years old. I was on the figure skating side, as my brother was on the other half of the ice in hockey skates. My parents said that I would stand at the red line and stare at the boys playing hockey, ultimately leading me to ask my mom to trade in my figure skates for hockey skates.” Jordan added “I grew up playing boys hockey in the area (Chicago). My parents couldn't get me off the ice. I would skate several mornings throughout the week, then again after school, then on to team practice. There were a few other girls in the area that played, so sometimes I would have one other girl on my team, but many years I was the only girl.”
Jordan concluded her remarks on her hockey roots, saying “ I then switched to a girl's team my 7th grade year, playing for two seasons before attending The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, CT.” Cetacean Nation knew about Jordan’s sports activities at Hotchkiss, and asked her to give us a run down on some of the other sports she’d played as a youngster. Jordan told us “Growing up, I played almost every sport, besides basketball. I think basketball was the only sport I really didn't take interest to, and I have no idea why. I played hockey, tennis, baseball and softball, volleyball, ran cross country, soccer, swimming and diving, inline hockey, lacrosse and probably a few more that I am forgetting. Of course, there were some sports that I liked more than others, but I just loved playing everything and anything I could.”
Jordan continued her recollections and said “Upon arriving at Hotchkiss, I had never played field hockey. I took an instant liking to field hockey, and ultimately developed a passion for the sport. Though it's on a field as opposed to ice, I found so many similarities between ice hockey and field hockey that made the transition almost seamless. To this day, I still cherish my field hockey memories with teammates, my coach and the sport.” Jordan then offered these interesting insights. She said “Every spring season I switched sports. I played lacrosse, softball and then track and field. My senior spring I rehabbed an injury. There was not one spring sport that really seemed to captivate my attention, so I ended up trying out a little bit of everything. I was able to make new friends, learn a new sport and ultimately push myself as an athlete.”
Cetacean Nation asked if being a multi sport athlete helped her hockey career. Jordan expanded her answer saying
“I think growing up playing so many sports helped shape the person that I am today. Sports taught me discipline, leadership, team play, hard work, accountability, patience, responsibility and so many other great qualities that helped me succeed in anything that I did and still do. I think the most important thing to take away from my athletic experience growing up is that I always asked my parents to play a sport, or go to the extra practices and training sessions. I wanted to play as much as I could, which leads to developing valuable skills that led me to a successful hockey career. If my parents had been the type to push me to do more when it came to sports, I do not think I would still be playing today. I am beyond grateful and appreciative to have such a loving and supportive family; I would not be where I am today without the support from my family, especially my mom and dad.” Cetacean Nation offers a Fins Up to that shout out by Jordan to her parents. Jordan concluded these remarks by explaining “I do not currently play any other sports competitively. Just hockey!” Cetacean Nation thinks that at the NWHL level that can be quite enough.
Continuing to discuss her sports participation as a youngster, Jordan talked about her choice of attending The Hotchkiss School. “Ever since I switched from boys to girls hockey, I had always taken interest in prep school. Through attending summer camps as well as tournaments, I was exposed to the idea of prep school. My parents took me to visit schools out east, and Hotchkiss seemed like home, leading me to choose the school.” Jordan was a four year letter winner and senior captain of the Hotchkiss girl’s hockey squad, and played quite a bit of club and tournament hockey in those years as well, with the Seacoast Spartans and the Connecticut Stars, as well as Team Illinois. Jordan continued her education and hockey career at Colgate University for two years before transferring to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she matriculated as a Badger. Overall in her collegiate career, Jordan skated in 140 games, scoring 12 goals and compiling 31 assists.
But Jordan was far from ready to give up hockey, and embarked on an exciting sport and life adventure by traveling to Europe to play in the Elite Women’s Hockey League (EWHL) Jordan enthusiastically shared her thoughts on her career overseas. “I LOVED my two seasons playing in Europe. My first season, I was in Salzburg, Austria, then I moved to Lugano, Switzerland. I had always wanted to study and travel abroad, but with hockey season this was not possible. After college, I knew I wanted to go to Europe and travel, and I still wasn't ready to say goodbye to hockey. This lead to me play hockey in Europe. My teammates were amazing-- they were so welcoming and fun to be around. They were able to really show me the true Austrian/Swiss cultures and ways of life, which is what I appreciated the most. Being able to travel to new places and play the game I love made my time in Europe so enjoyable and unforgettable. I will always cherish my time out there.”
And interestingly, it was while she was playing in Switzerland that Jordan found out about the NWHL. Jordan explains “I heard about the NWHL through one of my Swiss teammates (and current NWHL teammate) Alyssa Wohlfeiler. I was planning on doing another season in Lugano, until I heard from Harry Rosenholtz, the first season's GM. Ultimately, it was an opportunity that I could not pass up, leading to my move to CT” A somewhat circuitous route to the Whale, but s fortuitous one for Whale fans who have had Jordan on ice to cheer on since our inaugural season.
Continuing with that thought, we asked Jordan, as we have with several other players from 2015-2016, her thoughts on that first season. Jordan responded “Personally, the first season of the NWHL was my favorite. It was so pure, and everyone was involved because they loved the game of hockey. The talent was incredible, and it was fun to play with and against former teammates. The Whale also had such a strong fan following, and it has been great to see the continued support throughout the seasons. We appreciate all of our fans, and love the support. It is always great to see familiar faces around the rink, and special to see the fans that have been involved since day 1!”. Cetacean Nation notes that in that first season Jordan was selected to participate in the league’s first All-Star game.
Besides patrolling the blue line for the Whale, Jordan also helps grow the sport as a youth coach and instructor as well. She told us “ I coach all year. I mostly work with girls' teams as well as specialize in skill development of girls of all ages. It has been so rewarding and so much fun to be able to give back to the sport that gave and continues to give me so much. I think it is amazing that there are so many girls that play hockey in the area, and am happy to be a part of it.” Well, Cetacean Nation is happy and grateful for the continuing contributions of one of our OW (Original Whale) #26 Jordan Brickner. And not just to the Whale and the NWHL, but for her work with all those Future Draft Picks too!. Fins Up Jordan, for all you do, and for sharing these thoughts and insights with your fans!🐳
Update: Although it still says Brickner on the back of her hockey jersey, Jordan is now Mrs, Jordan Brickner Gragnano. And in August 2020, Jordan signed on with the Whale once more an will be repping the Pod for the sixth straight season. Fins Up Forever Jordan!