Allie played several sports other than hockey, and has some definite opinions on the benefits of being a multi sport athlete. And also, the potential problem with just playing hockey! She explained:
“I played every sport. I think a huge problem with hockey culture nowadays is specialization at a young age. It’s so detrimental to the growth and development of these athletes. I played softball, soccer, a lot of soccer! I played lacrosse in high school as a dual sport athlete, lacrosse and hockey. We had summers off at home so that was like everything on the lake. Doing water sports, just being a kid, not really thinking about hockey during the summertime. Whereas now it’s all year around, constant. So yeah, I loved all sports tennis volleyball you name it. And we’ll, if you think about it, my fun fact for parents is that hockey is the only sport where you don’t run backwards. So your hips and your hip flexors develop a certain way in hockey. And over time, you can really see some problems if you’re not working those muscles in all the ways other sports offer. So I think it is really important as the kids grow up to go play other sports, that’s what I say. If you think about the major sports, softball baseball, football, soccer, all involve moving backwards. But skating backwards is more lateral than backwards like those sports. You really have to be a student of the game and I think I’m kind of going down a rabbit hole here, but with technology these days I kind of wish the kids instead of Tick Tocking, would use it to study video. Watch hockey, pick it apart, and learn from it. It’s the best way to learn, just through video, being a student. So I myself try to do my due diligence, and hope that it translates onto the ice.”
Allie had a great career at Eden Prairie, where she led her team to a 55-15-3 record, including a Minnesota State Championship, scoring 100 goals and registering 71 assists her the Eagles. She was an All-Star, All-Confrence performer, but that Championship was really special. Allie reminisced:
“We won High School States, and that was probably the best feeling. it’s hard to fathom if you’re not from Minnesota. The High School Tournament, between both the boys and the girls, it’s a huge deal. That year we had 12 seniors, and of those 12, I think 10 of them went to D1 schools. It was just a great team, it was the best year of my high school career. My freshman year I got to play a lot. I had moved from northern Minnesota to the city going into high school, that was a big adjustment especially going onto the varsity team. But hockey is and was always my thing, and also how I relate to people and make friends, so that was an easy transition and winning states was awesome.” Allie had an early Whale connection in Minnesota, in the person of one of her club hockey teammates, our #9 Kaycie Anderson. This is the interesting story Allie told us:
“Kaycie was the one who helped recruit me to the Whale! We are friends and had kind of been talking about it, and the opportunity arose for me to come up and practice and get a couple of games in on PTO.Hockey is my full-time job in Nashville, so I didn’t think that I could leave but it’s worked out. I can fly up for these games and get practice in with the team,and still feel part of the team to finish the season out. So yeah, Kaycie and I grew up playing on a summer select team BITD that had the random name The Orange Crush. We actually had a few girls from the team commit to Syracuse. I don’t know if it was a coincidence (with Syracuse’s nickname being The Orange) or not but...
So obviously, Cetacean Nation was curious about how Allie came to wear the Syracuse “S” on her jersey. Allie explained that, and gave us some insight into her years up in Onondaga County, NY. She explained:
“My cousin Christina was a year older than me, and she committed to Syracuse.And they wanted us to go together, so we were kind of a package deal. And since our dads are brothers obviously, they wanted to drive out together on road trips. We had had big tailgate times, and it was fun situation. I looked at the Minnesota scores and some other eastern schools but I wanted to play with my cousin. Unfortunately she transferred, but I stayed and found my home at ‘ Cuse. I had a lot of other offers and looks from schools but I’m happy with my decision I have a great education from there and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It was some of the best four years of my life. Coach Flanagan was one of the best collegiate coaches in NCAA history, he was awesome I loved those girls and I actually just came back for the first time in five years for a reunion. And boy, was it great! But yeah,the LaCombes, Christi and Allie. We played really well together, we were always linemates and teammates, so it kind of worked out well. We played at EP together, and her brother, Jackson, just got drafted first round by the Anaheim Ducks. He’s playing for the Gophers at University of Minnesota right now. Big hockey family!”
Allie received her Bachelor of Science in Sports Management, and had a great career on the ice at Syracuse. She played solid, consistent, relentless hockey even when the team experienced some ups and downs. She scored twenty-seven goals and added twenty-one assists for the Orange, but when Allie thought about her favorite moment at Syracuse, one particular game stands out. And she told us why:
“Well obviously times with your teammates like, bus drives, hotel stays, and just being with the girls is special. But my favorite memory of all time was when my Dad drove out, and I get emotional when I talk about this, when he drove by himself in a snowstorm from Minnesota to Syracuse. Eighteen hours for my senior night, and he had just arrived at the rink. He got there in time, and I scored a goal, and he was right on the glass! And I just went up to him and celebrated. Both of us kind of choked up, but it was just a really great moment, father and daughter, and someone got a picture of it. It was the best still photo, just pure happiness. I will never forget that, it was definitely my favorite moment. Dad is a trooper, he’s awesome. He’s quite the hockey dad.” Cetacean Nation agrees, and Allie was kind enough to send us the photo of that monument that she referenced. You saw it at the top of this interview..
Cetacean Nation had discovered that Allie likes to travel, which is pretty significant when you are hockey-commuting between Nashville and Danbury. We asked Allie about that, and she explained how that has always been a part of her life:
“I think it was something that just developed, I moved a lot as a kid. I went to France when I was 15 by myself, to visit my aunt and spoke French. And probably when I went to Vienna after Syracuse and played a full year there, so I got to live in Vienna? I taught myself German, so I could babysit kids and make money while playing there. The kids knew English better than I knew German :) Plus being over there, you’re allowed to travel on off weekends, so I got to Prague, Sweden, Italy and all these amazing countries through hockey. And, that led me to go to Kazakhstan to play last season. When that offer came, I had to Google where Kazakhstan was on the map! I was like: Wow, that’s really far away! But they play in the EWHL, which is the European Women’s Hockey League, the same league as Vienna plays in. So they fly to Europe and you meet him there, and play in tournaments. I did get to go to Kazakhstan three times, and I was incredible. The hospitality, the people, the food and the culture, I’ll never ever forget it. It was nothing like anything I’ve ever experienced. And now we also travel for girls hockey twice a month so I feel like I’m always going on road trips. I love flying, I love traveling. I’ve been all around the world and back, and it’s been through hockey, which is the best part about it!”
So after those adventures overseas, how did it occur that Allie came back to the states to continue her career in various roles in hockey? She explained:
“The hardest part about me continuing to play overseas, is that I had to leave my job for weeks at a time with Kazakhstan. So two or three weeks I’d be gone, and with coaching the girls and taking over the rink, it was too much. Playing is one thing, but for me my passion was coaching and giving back to the kids. So I kind of just wasn’t able to make it out there. They do have some upcoming national team tournaments and things like that, but I have a really good relationship with those coaches and I said: You know what? I just can’t do all the travel but I’m going to try to stay here in the states and do a couple of games. And they totally understood, so that was just a personal decision to put the girls first and to stay in coaching and not leave in the middle of the season. That’s my career and I’m just really lucky to be able to still play hockey. Hockey is a passion in this league, the NWHL, and I’m so grateful for it all that, I can't put it into words"