Cetacean Nation recently had a chance to get better acquainted with the newest member of the Pod, our #4 Taylor Marchin. She joined the Whale for one game on a PTO after a year with the Kunlun Red Star in the CWHL, and Taylor picked up where she left off and played herself onto the roster, and a full contract. But before that all happened, Taylor patrolled the blue line for the Yale University as an offensively skilled defender. Cetacean Nation believes that part of the allure of sport is the rivalries that develop between teams. Red Sox vs Yankees, Celtics vs Lakers, Bruins vs Canadiens, Patriots vs, well, everybody, are a few examples. Yale vs Harvard, in anything, is the same type of rivalry. So, when as a freshman for the Bulldogs, our #4 Taylor Marchin scored a power play goal in a game that ended in a tie, it was a big deal. Having won the first meeting of the season, it meant Yale would be undefeated against the their historic foe. But, it had even more meaning for Taylor. In fact when Cetacean Nation asked Taylor about her favorite hockey moment at a Yale, this is what she told us. “ I have a ton of great hockey memories from my time as a Bulldog, but one seems to always stick out. My freshman year, we beat Harvard the first time I had ever played them, and I also had a goal. It was a huge deal at the time because Yale had been struggling the past few seasons and no one really expected us to win. And besides the historic rivalry between the two schools, my previous experience with Harvard made it even more special.”
Taylor went on to explain what that meant, and how that helped lead her to wear #44 for the Yale Bulldogs for four years. “ I committed to Harvard during my junior year of high school, and it fell through the following year. By that time, almost all of the programs I contacted had filled all of their spots for their freshman class coming in the following year. A few weeks later, I ended up visiting Yale and immediately fell in love with the campus, the atmosphere, the team, the coaches, and I knew I was where I was supposed to be.” But there was still some work to be done, asTaylor explained “ Admissions requested that I take a post-grad year at a prep-school just to make sure I was prepared for the academics. At first, I was unsure about the idea of a 5th year of high school when all of my friends would be in college, especially since post-grad years are basically unheard of in Michigan. Overall, the situation ended up being an extremely positive experience. Michigan Hockey does not allow you to play on a club team and a high school team, so I was able to play hockey for my school for the first time. I also played for Assabet on the weekends, so I was on the ice 6 or 7 days a week. Other than playing more that I ever had before, I gained a lot of confidence, which helped my game even further.“ These thoughts were echoed in her Yale Hockey bio, where Taylor summed it up saying “I chose Yale because it is one of the most prestigious colleges in the World. I will not only get an invaluable education, but also play the sport I love. While visiting Yale, I immediately felt at home due to the fun and friendly coaching staff and team. I can't wait to be part of the up-and-coming program.” It was a perfect match as it turns out, and during her career at Yale, Taylor skated in 123 consecutive games, and was at or near the top of the team leaders in power play goals each season. And by the time she left the ice as a senior, she was the team’s co-MVP.
As always, Cetacean Nation was curious about Taylor’s early hockey career, and asked how that began. She replied “ When I was really little, I would go to ballet class and my younger brother, Tommy (who is a senior forward on Brown’s hockey squad, and led them in goals last season) would go to hockey lessons at a small roller hockey rink right next door. After my ballet was over, I would walk over and watch him run around with a hockey stick in his hands and it looked like so much fun. When I was 6, my brother and I both played on our first hockey team. Since he is only one birth year younger than me, he was able to play up a year, and we were able to play together for a few seasons. It was funny because Tommy was known as the young one on the team and I was known as the girl. I think I was a forward early on, but stuck with defense starting around the age of 9. I had a period where I really wanted to be a goalie, but I wasn’t allowed to switch.” Taylor continued, commenting on the sports and hockey culture in the Algonac/Regina area near Detroit Michigan where she is from. “ The Metro-Detroit area seems to love hockey and the Red Wings. I think it has a lot to do with how great the team has been in the past 30 years (although they are currently in the rebuilding stages). The Lions and Tigers have both had their ups and downs, but the support is there. Overall, it is a great sports atmosphere and a lot of fun to be around.” Taylor had great success playing on a couple of top flight club teams, Little Caesars and Assabet. We asked her about that and she told us “ I played for Little Caesars for the four years I was in high school in Michigan. We had a great team with a lot of players who went on to play at some pretty impressive college programs. Our girls league in Michigan was always really strong so we were fortunate to have such great local competition. Just winning the State Tournament and getting to Nationals was a huge deal.” Taylor also served as Captain of the Little Caesars team, and in fact went to the Nationals four times with them, winning silver medals twice.
Taylor added these thoughts about Assabet as well. “ Playing for Assabet was great. The Little Caesars teams I had been a part of were always skilled, but everything was taken to another level with Assabet. I had never been on a team where there was not a doubt in my mind that we were going to win the game we showed up to play, and that was fun. Everyone gave their best effort every time they stepped on the ice and it was amazing being part of a team that worked so hard and worked together. Dennis Laing is also an amazing coach. It felt good to finally win the championship at the National Tournament and I am grateful that I was given the opportunity.” That championship came in 2013, as Taylor and her 19U teammates earned gold medals at the USA Hockey National Championships. Taylor was also a multi-sport athlete in her prep school career, as an All-State goalie for both the field hockey and soccer teams at Regina High School in Michigan. We asked her what impact these sports had on her hockey career, and she revealed “ I loved playing as a goalie in soccer and field hockey. I think I was drawn to being goalie in other sports because it was never really an option for me in hockey. Playing additional sports in high school definitely kept me in great shape, but I think the most important factor is that it made me even more excited to go to hockey practice. Soccer and field hockey were always enjoyable, but I never really saw them as my sport. I developed a reputation at Yale for blocking shots, so I am sure there is a direct correlation to my field hockey and soccer goalie days there.”
In fact, her shot-blocking skills at Yale earned Taylor the team’s inaugural “Big Dog Award” for the most blocked the shots on the team. One of Taylor’s coaches at Yale that senior year was our former Original Whale star #56 Jessica Koizumi (you can read Jess’s interview here too). We asked Jessica, who now coaches the Catamounts women’s hockey team for Vermont, what she remembered about Taylor. She told us “ Taylor was the toughest player on our team. She led us in shot blocking, and hits that would make the highlight reel. She has a strong personality, because hockey meant the world to her. It is not surprising to me that she is one of the few that has had the privilege to play at the next level after graduating college. She is the real deal and it’s been a treat to follow her career.” Fins Up to Coach Koizumi for sharing those thoughts with us.
On the academic side of the coin, Taylor majored in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (see the story here on our # 37 Randi Griffin for more about that field of study) Taylor explained her choice this way. “ I chose ecology and evolutionary biology as my major because I had planned on applying to dental school and Yale doesn’t have a specific pre-med major. A lot of the major requirements looked really fascinating and I thought it would be a great way to knock out the dental school prerequisites as well.” But those plans had to be put on hold, as now there were opportunities to continue to play the sport she loved, beyond the NCAA level. When we asked Taylor about how her pro career developed, she explained “ I never really thought a pro hockey career was in the cards for me because I was pretty set on going to dental school after I graduated from college. However, the opportunity to go to China and to play in the CWHL came up rather last-minute and I felt that I couldn’t turn it down. Overall, it was an amazing experience being able to be a part of developing the Chinese Women’s National Team, and the sport of hockey in general. My teammates and I had to figure out how to balance teaching others, while making sure we did what we needed to do in order to play well. I tore my meniscus the first week we were on the ice in China, and I had surgery back in the US. It was my first real injury, so I struggled a bit with missing the first few games of the season, and then not being as good as I knew I could be once I came back.” Taylor continued “ Anyway, I think it was a rather unique first year of pro hockey because of being based in China, having to adapt to the food, traveling back and forth to North America, and so on. It was awesome having such great players on the team - some played for the US or Canadian National Team, and a few were Olympians. We ended up doing really well in the league and lost in overtime in the Clarkson Cup.”
We now know that Taylor’s next step would be onto the ice with the Whale, and here is how that came about. She told us “ I had recently moved to White Plains, New York for a job at an investment banking firm. After finding an apartment, driving from Michigan, and getting settled, I realized that it would be possible to work and play for the CT Whale since their home ice was only 40 minutes away. Digit Murphy, who coached the team I was on in China, reached out to one of the players on the Whale that she coached at Brown. Then, I was put in contact with Coach Ryan Equale, and he told me to come out to their next practice. After two practices, he told me that I could play in the game against Boston as a try-out using a PTO. I learned that PTOs allow someone to be added to the roster for a game without signing a traditional contract to officially be on the team. I was a little nervous because other than the two practices with the Whale, I hadn’t been on the ice at all since the Clarkson Cup, and that was in March. I was clearly not in game shape, but it must have gone well enough because I am now officially on the team. I am enjoying getting back into the swing of things, and I am glad that I decided to continue playing. I am also extremely thankful for this opportunity Ryan, the Whale, and the NWHL has given me.”
Finally, Cetacean Nation was aware of some the work Taylor had done with non- profit organizations. It would seem that type of background would be helpful in growing the game, in particular in interactions with our little Future Draft Picks. Taylor responded “ I absolutely love kids, so I think that really motivates me to get involved, whether it be for non-profit organizations or any other type of event. I remember what it was like to be in their shoes, looking up to the “big kids” or older players, and I now know how important it is to interact on their level or that the smallest things make the biggest impressions. I haven’t done any formal coaching at this point, but I have helped run a few camps at Yale and I had the opportunity of teaching kids how to skate while I was in China.” So there you have the Marchin Chronicles to date, although there are many more chapters to go. Happily the current Chapter is entitled Taylor Marchin, #4 of the Connecticut Whale. Fins Up to that, and for the Taylor’s thoughtful comments.