Besides playing with Boo at Saint Lawrence, one of Brooke’s goalie partners was her current teammate, our #31 Sonjia Shelly. Brooke told us “Sonjia and I are great friends and she’s awesome. I was very fortunate to play with Saint Lawrence for those three years. They have a great program there and it was a great experience.” Things began great for Brooke, and she quickly won her first start of the season, even picking up an assist. Almost a year to the day later, she recorded her first shutout and compiled a 12-5-1 record over her three years, with a GAA of around 2.50. But as our former #92 Katka Mrazova said in part, statistics show a lot, but not everything, .Brooke stated “I feel like playing at such a high level at that time in my life, I got too caught up in the competition. I was putting too much pressure on myself. I ultimately found myself losing my love for the game and losing my confidence. Hockey has always been a great outlet for me. It helped me escape the stresses of everyday life and it seemed like I was losing that. I knew that even if it was just for one more year, ,one more season, I know I wanted to find that love for the game again. So that’s when I started looking at other schools.”
Brooke further revealed “Plattsburgh had just won their fourth consecutive national title that year.They have an incredible program there. I had reached out to Coach Kevin Houle expressing my interest. And honestly, it was pretty hard to find a school that was willing to take on a goalie for only a year. A lot of schools that I talked to already had goalies that were committed to the school two years in advance. So when Coach Houle got back to me, I was thrilled. They were just graduating their starter so they were looking for a goalie.I had explained to him about my background at Saint Lawrence. I just wanted a chance to show what I could do, as well as experience my love for the game again add Coach Houle gave me that chance, and I am super grateful”. So we would imagine, is Coach Houle and the entire Plattsburgh State hockey family. Brooke led all Division III goalies with a microscopic 0.95 goals-against average, and save percentage of .962. She compiled. 10-2-1 record, including six shutouts, earning NEWHL Goalie of the Week twice, and was named to NEWHL All-Tournament Team, as well as the Norwich East-West Hockey Classic All-Tournament Team among other honors. She led the Cardinals to the League Championship with a 23 save shutout against Oswego State in the title game. Their run ended in the semi final round of the NCAA tourney despite her 43 saves, as Elmira and future Whale teammate #24 Sarah Hughson prevailed 3-2.
Brooke also offered these insights into her remarkable year at Plattsburgh. “Kayla Meneghin and Melissa Sheeran (our former #20) are great teammates and great friends. I’m happy I get to play with Kayla again. At Plattsburgh we had a good close team, really like a family, we had a close bond. I have a lot of good memories from Plattsburgh, but if I had to pick one though, I think I would say the road trips. With the team spending time on the bus on weekend trips it was always a lot of fun. I think we grew closer that way. I can actually remember a tradition, that on the first road trip for Plattsburgh each season, every freshman had to get up in front of the whole team on the bus and sing a song. Now I thought I would be exempt from that since I was a transfer senior, but nope:), I was wrong! And there is a catch to it too:. we weren’t allowed to hear ourselves, so we had to wear headphones with the volume cranked up! So I’m not a good singer to begin with, so you can imagine how it would sounded, not being able to hear hear myself. It was definitely funny and I could tell I must have been awful just based on the girls facial expressions as they were all laughing. It is definitely something funny to look back on.I do not remember what song I sang, I wish I remembered but I think I blacked it out from embarrassment:) We mentioned that in her Plattsburgh Women’s Hockey bio, Brooke stated she liked “food and coloring books” She laughed, “Ha,ha! I guess that was a little bit of a joke! But at the same time I have actually used adult coloring books before, to help me relax. And there are times that it is actually a helpful way to calm your mind down and helps you to really focus on the present moment. YI love food, and I wish I could cook more than I do. After graduating I tried to get into cooking but it’s not really for me:) I think I need to practice more. That’s what it is, if I was a better cook I would cook more.”
Cetacean Nation also wanted to talk about Brooke’s college major which was psychology, especially since she moved into the field right after graduation. Brooke explained “I think what Initially drew me to psychology was being a hockey goalie. I’m not necessarily saying that when skating out the mental process isn’t as important, it definitely is. But especially having that added pressure on me as a goalie. I was interested in psychology and wanted to learn more about the mind and different techniques to use to help kind of train your mind to change negative thinking to positive thinking. And I studied psychology both at Plattsburgh and Saint Lawrence. Actually, I have been personally affected by a mental health problem.And I guess I want to be able to learn about about mental health issues to be able to help others going through similar challenges. And that’s why I decided after graduating, to work at a school that specializes in helping kids deal with mental health issues.”
Speaking definitively, Brooke stressed “Mental toughness is important, it’s huge. I love the pressure of my position, but when it becomes too much pressure it’s not fun anymore. You have to learn how to work with that pressure and learn ways to build up that mental toughness. If you have a tough night, you have to learn how to let it go. Hockey has to be fun. When I was talking about my experiences at Saint Lawrence, I said having fun was the reason you started playing in the first place, and I wanted to get that back. I wanted to have fun again. Some people thought I was crazy just for asking about leaving, when I had only a year left to go. They’d ask:Why change schools now? But I wanted to have fun, even though it was just one year. I still want to be happy and end on it on a positive note.” Cetacean Nation thinks that Brooke demonstrated incredible mental toughness through the process of changing colleges in her senior year. And the ability to reach down inside a deal with a cornucopia of issies like that is admirable to say the least. That kind of mental toughness will not only serve her well between the pipes in the NWHL, but in all aspects of her life.
We also inquired further into exactly what type of work Brooke has been doing for the past year in her field of psychology. She informed us “i am an educational technician at Sweetser, Ed Tech III for short. I was working in a middle school classroom and we would assist the classroom teacher with their educational plan for the class. Each student has an individualized educational plan and an individual ICMP, which is an Individual Crisis Management Plan. There was a document that we could always refer to and it would suggest certain things we could do in crisis situations, Say a student puts their head down on the desk, or screams or yells, basically exhibiting how they try to cope with an individual crisis situation. And explains what ways we can help them. For example, say a kid is struggling with a math problem and they get really frustrated, and they can’t manage their emotions to the point where they get up and leave the room and slam the door.I would be the one to follow them and and then talk to them about what just happened. I would try to talk them through The ways.that they can handle that situation better next time.And ultimately help them get back into the classroom and teach them different coping skills they can use when they feel strong emotions. So that was pretty much what I did. The school I was at was a private school that had one elementary school class, three middle school classes and three high school classes, all in one school. It was pretty small. So my job was mainly helping with behavioral issues and helping students manage their emotions better. I had a great experience there and I learned a lot. it’s very important work, it’s hard work but it’s definitely rewarding. Right now however, I am focusing on hockey. I am going to be a goalie coach for Pro Crease, and that will be fun. I used to goalie coach summer camps in Maine, so it will be fun getting back into coaching. But I also want to focus on getting my masters, possibly in sports psychology. Although it was fun working with the kids in the school at Sweetser, sports are my thing, that is more of my passion and I’m excited about it.”
Cetacean Nation was interested in how Brooke kept herself in condition the past year, and she told us “I played in some pick up hockey leagues, and and I also have an Orange Theory membership I don’t know if you’ve heard of Orange Theory, but it’s basically a situation where you have a coach that runs your class and you rotate between the treadmill and the rowing machine the floor exercises.The floor exercises are either ab exercises or working with free weights. The coach basically tells you what to do, and you get a heart rate monitor. Tha Heart rate monitor indicates what to do. There is a screen that you can look up at and see your, name your heart rate, and what zone you’re in. It’s called Orange Theory because ideally you want to spend 12 minutes in the Orange Zone out of a 55 or 60 minute workout, Zones are graded by color. For example, Gray Zone is your resting heart rate. You work your way up into the Blue and the Green and then the Orange. And the Zone after that is Red which is basically the danger zone. There you’re working yourself too hard and you have to turn it down a bit. So Orange Theory really helps me stay in shape. I like the structure of it and I like the coach telling us what to do.It helped me push myself more that way, like if I’m in the Green Zone, I know I can push myself even more.”
We asked Brooke about her unform #1 and she told us “ The #1 for the most part has been my number. I think I was number 30 on Assabet because my goalie partner had already taken a the number 1. That was funny because she told me she was normally #30, but she had switched to #1 and they won the National Championship.. So she didn’t want to switch after that:’ She didn’t particularly like #1, but she felt that she had to keep it. So I just picked #1 because it was another goalie number 1, 30 or 31, there’s not really more of a story behind it than that.” Brooke concluded our chat, stating “I am very happy to be with the Whale, and very excited about the upcoming game at UConn. I’m looking forward to it, but I I’m glad that we have the two practices this week. Because personally, I still need to work a little more shake the rust off. And it is good to have that time together as a team before the season starts, to just get back out there and get our feet under us.” Brooke also revealed that at a recent practice her nickname from Saint Lawrence resurfacedd. Brooke’s former SLU goalie partner #31 Sonjia Shelly, called out to her: Hey Woj! Brooke explained “I had that nickname in college, and Sonjia still calls me Wojo or Woj (she usually calls me Woj) Kayla Meneghin was surprised when she heard that at practice because I was not called that at Plattsburgh just at Saint Lawrence. She said: Oh wow, it should be like Sojo and Wojo!” And as all of Cetacean Nation has surmised as they just read this, so shall it be! We thank our amazing rookie goalie #1 Brooke Wolejko, for the candid and insightful content she shared with us. We are sure Wojo will continue to have a lot of fun with the Pod. After all, what could be more fun than bringing the Isobel Cup to Connecticut? Fins Up to that!