This is the fifth installment of our “All In The Family” series of interviews with the families of our amazing Connecticut Whale Pod. In these interviews, family members have given us, as only they can, unique insights into their daughters path to the Pod. The stories about each player, told by those who know them best, along with the player’s individual interview(s) give us a look into the life of our Whale. A look well beyond their great stats and accomplishments that are generally known. For this segment of the series, we spoke late last year with John and Olga Beattie, parents of our amazing #16 Hanna Beattie. We knew that among other things, we wanted to talk about Hanna’s days with her youth team the New Jersey Colonials and her visit with the NWHL to Nasdaq. We started with Nasdaq, and that quickly led us to the Colonials. John addressed our question about Hanna’s day at Nasdaq, saying
"That was very fun for her. The player that went with her was a teammate of hers from the Colonials, Kendall Cornine (of the Riveters) We had a great team back then (with the Colonials), the team always went to Nationals, The kids were coming in from all over, but we were still a local club. Not like Assabet, where the girls fly in from Pittsburg. But it was great, and she had some fantastic head coaching with the Colonials too, really, really good. Shelly Looney, who was an Olympian and All-American, she scored the game winning goal against Canada in the ‘98 Olympics, she was Hanna’s Head Coach. She was their Director of Hockey and Hanna’s Head Coach for a couple of years. And then a guy named Don Gould who is the head of USA Women’s hockey was also her coach. She had some really, really great coaches.” Olga quickly interjected “Including her father! He coached Hanna her whole life!” John conceded “Yeah, pretty much from 3 years old on. I took a year off when she started playing girls hockey. She was playing both boys and girls hockey and I took a little time off. I was coaching her in middle school and her little outdoor club team, the Essex Hunt Club. But I wasn’t doing the travel stuff. But I jumped back into it at the women’s level. I had actually only coached men, and I had done that for 35 years at that point. And then I had the opportunity to be an assistant coach with her team, and I did that for like five or six years. Basically, her whole time with the Colonials, except for her first year of U12. It’s great. I have to say, you don’t have to raise your voice in coaching young women, you don’t have to use the “F” bomb every third word to get your message across, like you do with a 15 or 16;year old midget boy. Just a tiny of sarcasm” Olga added “Not even so much sarcasm, as just a raised eyebrow!” which made everyone laugh!"John agreed “Just a raised eyebrow, the girls just got it. Hanna played with some great kids, they understood the game, and they had a lot of fun. They made Hanna better, and Hanna made them better. And that’s kind of been her modis operandi, all time. When she was a mite, all the boys would look at her, and she would say something and they would listen.“
We mentioned that when we talked to Hanna taking a leadership role she had told us this
“So yeah, I had experience being a captain and just tried to do my best keeping the team moving forward and staying positive and kind of inspired for the rest of the season. And I’m a relatively vocal person as well, so that helps :)"
Olga and John readily agreed with that self assessment, and John added “She is, but she also surveys the landscape well. She doesn’t just jump in and start running her mouth. She’s really respectful of her teammates and the situation she finds herself in. She’s definitely got a lot more comfortable with the Whale.I can’t believe it’s her fourth season. We’re playing with house money right now because we never thought this was going to happen. And kind of how she found the Whale and it all worked out, it’s poetic hockey gods, I think.
We also talked a little about something that Season Five Assistant Coach Mike Bonelli had told us. About the difference in hockey development between men and women. He had highlighted that the girls mostly go right from high school to college, while the guys often have a few years of juniors before ever playing in college. If you think about it, that makes Hanna’s versatility even more impressive.
Olga responded “That’s a wild perspective. I never thought about it in terms of maturity and experience. I just never thought about that, thanks for identifying it (Mike) Hanna has played all three forward positions. And when she was a Mite, she was a goaltender. I think she was more captivated by the padding, and that she could walk out first, she loved that. And that’s where she started, as a Mite, where she started getting vocal when she was getting lit up as a goalie. During one game, before the puck was dropped after the other team scored, I saw her wave her defensemen in to talk. And then the game turned around. Now this was when she was a Mite, and I asked her: Hanna, what did you say to those two boys? She said: I told them, I need some D here! So I was like: Oh, OK " she laughed. "And it turned the game around. But what I loved, is that she did not play goalie again until the last game of her senior year in high school (Pingry). Their main goalie really, really, wanted to score a goal. So Hanna said: Ok, I’ll play in net, so you can play up and score your goal. And the whole team worked together. The goalie was not an accomplished hockey player, but the whole team rallied around her and set her up. Basically put the puck on her stick so she could push it into the goal, it was awesome. But anyway I loved her just being a teammate and helping out. It was fun for the team!”
Cetacean Nation was curious about other early sports memories they had of Hanna, who as we knew played lacrosse as well as hockey. Olga stated “She played every sport, if there was a sport, she wanted in. And lacrosse was one.” John added “ Hanna played on a little local club team as a 6th, 7th and 8th grader. And then she played in high school also. And she was fantastic, she loved playing. Her coach in high school went to Princeton, and was trying to encourage her to play lacrosse in college. Hanna had this kind of unique shot (in lacrosse) where she didn’t really shoot over her shoulder as most players do. She would shoot it almost more like a hockey puck. She would bring the stick down really low and, whip it low. And the goalie would have difficulty picking it up because it was coming from a totally different angle from what they’re used to. You don’t see that very often at all, and it frustrates the goalie, apparently. She was able to to cradle the ball upside down and keep it in the webbing of her stick and then release it. So it was interesting.” Olga recalled “There was one coach who tried to disqualify the goals that way, but the ref held firm. “ John added When she went to Williams she was thinking of playing lacrosse. But by the time her freshman year ended she was too tired from playing hockey. They had won the NESCAC, she was an All-American that year, and she was tired. She was definitely tired from coming in as a freshman, all the working out and all the success the team had."