Cetacean Nation, based upon your reactions to our “Other Side of the Glass” interviews and our “Not A Whale But…” stories, we are providing more of the same, but with a twist. This new series of interviews will feature input from the families of our amazing Pod players, discussing their love of the NWHL and the Whale, and giving us some insight into our players from their family’s perspective. As Elizabeth Barret Browning might have said “How do we love our Whale? Let us count the ways! “ And when we tote all of those ways up, we can now include the “All In The Family” series as one of those ways. And first up in this series is Jerry Orlando, our amazing #14 Elena Orlando’s Dad.
Jerry has been involved in hockey a long time. He started going to NHL games in 1967, when the NHL expanded to the Bay Area with the Oakland Seals. He also ran the local ice rink during the mid 2000's. Although his background was really in the food industry, he became GM of the rink to “save it for my kids and all other kids” .Jerry has been a scout for various organizations, ran youth hockey programs and was an evaluator for selecting girls to go to the USA Hockey Pacific District camps. We asked Jerry if when Elena and her brother Dominic started out in roller hockey, he thought it would continue into ice hockey? He replied
“One of Dominic's first coaches in roller hockey was a former D-3 player,.Mark Reiger. He lived close to Sacramento, which had an ice rink. The rink was about 1 hour from our home in Winters, CA. He asked Dominic if he wanted to try ice hockey. So he took him to the rink and Dominic really enjoyed it. So Dominic played both ice and roller hockey. Elena started playing roller hockey when she was 5 years old. In 1999 they opened an ice rink 15 minutes from our house in Vacaville, CA. So both kids went to the Vacaville rink, where Elena started to learn how to skate on ice. Both kids soon gave up roller hockey and focused on ice hockey. I always thought it was an easy transition from roller to ice hockey and Elena could switch at any time. I found out very quickly it was not that easy of a transition as the skating was different. So one of her early coaches, Ernie Hicke, who played in the NHL during the 1970's, broke her of her roller hockey style of skating and rewired her brain to ice hockey style of skating.”
All of Cetacean Nation knows that Elena was a multi sport athlete, and a dual athlete at Quinnipiac. But we wondered if hockey was always Elena’s best or favorite sport? Jerry responded
“Elena was a super soccer player and played comp soccer. She really liked both soccer and hockey. But at 10, she missed a few hockey games because she had to go to soccer tournaments. At that point she really wanted to focus on hockey. I always told my kids they had to play all sports, but at 10 they could focus on only one if they wanted. So she reminded me of what I said and stopped playing comp soccer. But she would play local AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) in our small town until she was 14. Hockey was her main sport and she never missed a game or tournament after 10 years old.”