Number 24 Sarah Hughson in action for the Whale! 📸:Troy Parla (left top & bottom)

SARAH HUGHSON: FOUNDATION FOR THE FUTURE

One of our exciting crop of rookies who skated for our Whale this season was #24 Sarah Hughson. Sarah joined the Pod after her stellar career at Elmira College, and played in thirteen games with us this past season. In her first year, Sarah made a big impression on the fans and the community on and off the ice as well. And for her efforts, Sarah was honored with one of the 2019 NWHL Foundation Awards. The award goes to players deemed to have exemplified what it means to be a role model in the world of women’s hockey, someone who goes above and beyond through their tireless work in the community. The Foundation Award Recipients are selected by the league office and are recognized as those most actively applying the core values of hockey to her community, as well as growing the game and improving hockey culture. NWHL Deputy Commissioner Hayley Moore said "The NWHL prides itself on providing a platform to inspire..What the recipients of this award have done with that platform is incredibly powerful and impactful! Hannah Brandt, Kelly Babstock, Kim Sass, Mallory Souliotis and Sarah Hughson exemplify what it means to give back to the game. We are lucky to have such incredible women representing the League and their communities."

Like several other of her teammates, Sarah had a dual career on the ice this season. She was a forward for the Whale, and also a coach as well, at Choate-Rosemary Hall prep school.. Cetacean Nation asked Sarah to tell us a little about her coaching. and she replied “I loved coaching at Choate this season. It was definitely a weird transition from player to coach but it was a cool experience to be able to fill that role and see everything from a new perspective. Our head coach, Ashley Bairos, is an awesome coach and does everything to make sure our girls have the tools they need to be the best hockey players, teammates, and people that they can be by time they leave our program. I am learning a lot from her and am excited to get back to it next season.”

You may recall that Sarah was not only a star prep and college hockey player, but a star for the lacrosse squad as well. And that is still a big part of Sarah’s life. We asked Sarah about her lacrosse and she explained “I picked up lax my first year at Gunnery and loved it. When I chose Elmira the lacrosse coach reached out and I am so glad that I played there as well. There are so many advantages to playing two sports in college as well as multiple sports growing up. Coaching lacrosse is a lot of fun, the girls on the team mesh so well and everyday is a blast with them. We do have a few girls from hockey on the lacrosse team so that was nice to have as a transition to being a new lacrosse coach for that program. I try to live up to my Gunnery lacrosse coaches who were just the best, so I aspire to be like them. “

And coaching as it turns out, is not the only thing that Sarah is involved with at Choate. Cetacean Nation remembered that she had enjoyed doing social media work previously and asked her about that. Sarah told us “Yeah, I love it! I did the social media for ECWH my senior year while playing and now I am running the girls varsity ice hockey and lacrosse social media channels at Choate as well. I aspire to do something in that field in the future so I love having the opportunity to work on that at Choate. The girls also love it, so it’s cool to see how excited they get over my work. Follow us on instagram! @choate_gvh and @choatewlacrosse we have a great time!” Cetacean Nation does, and if you take a look, we’re sure you will too.

When we discussed some more about Sarah’s rookie season with the Pod, she gave us these insightful impressions of the season, again both on and off the ice. Talking about moving up into the ranks of a professional, Sarah told us “The biggest adjustment had to have been the pace of everything. The practices are so fast and so competitive! And then when you get to the games, it is so much faster and even more physical than college games. It was amazing to be a part of. Playing at this level you are always being pushed to be better, faster, stronger and I loved that.” Sarah added “Honestly I had so much fun every single day that I got to be with the team. We meshed so well and everyone really got along. The chemistry was better than any team I have been a part of. Like we could be super competitive at practice and battle for spots in the lineup, and then between drills or after hours everyone is just so close and supportive. I already miss being with everyone! “

Sarah continued her thoughts on the unique team chemistry of the Whale. She emphasized “I honestly don’t know if there is another team in the league who meshed as well as we did. It does help that we have a bunch of people who have played together before but it really was all about the type of hockey players and people we had on the team. There wasn’t anyone who craved the spotlight or didn’t care about the girl sitting next to her on the bench. We genuinely cared about how each other were doing and knew that the games we played the best would be when we all worked together. It was awesome to be a part of a team with such overall good people and athletes.”

All of Cetacean Nation misses watching the Pod out on the ice, but the offseason is already 20% finished, as by September it is really our pre-season. We asked Sarah about her offseason training regimens and she told us “I have adapted a good off season schedule from what was always expected of me at Elmira, wanting to be better each year, And this off season is no different, but definitely heightened. I want to be able to return faster and stronger for the next season. I do train at least 5 days a week and skate as often as I can, but I love working out so I don’t complain. “

With a lot of things happening right now with the NWHL, we asked Sarah for her thoughts on where her spotrt was going. She replied “ I am excited for what is to come with women’s professional hockey as a whole. I believe that after the amazing year our sport just had this past season that we are moving in the right direction and it’ll be exciting to see what’s next.” Cetacean Nation could not agree more! Before we closed up shop with Sarah, we.got her impressions to a handful of our Rapid Fire topics as well:

Favorite Dunkin’ Order- Sweetened Green tea and a blueberry muffin toasted! (I’m not a coffee drinker)

Favorite Away Rink: Buffalo Harbor Center: the crowd there is awesome and it’s close enough to Elmira that I can always find a few friendly faces! A big shout out to the Grampp family!

Favorite Post-Game Meal: Chicken Parm with veggies

Favorite Mark Twain Book: Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Yankees or Red Sox: Red Sox

Thanks to our #24 Sarah Hughson, for her insightful and thoghtful comments. A player who has built a rock solid foundation of her own, for her careers on and off ice. Fins Up!