By Ross Forman – Amelia McKenna, a senior at Saint Viator who skates for the co-op District 211/214 Rebels, is the epitome of a student-athlete.
On the ice, she is a three-year varsity skater as this is the team’s third season. She had 5 goals, 3 assists in 15 Metro Girls games last season, including 2 game-winning goals.
“My style of play is controlled, but I’m aggressive when I need to be. I like to envision what I’m going to do on the ice before it happens,” said McKenna, 17, who lives in Arlington Heights and sports jersey No. 14.
A right-handed shooter, McKenna usually plays defense, but Rebels head coach Jimmy Warrick also has shifted her to center and wing. McKenna played for the Rolling Meadows Renegades from 2010-2016, then for the Glenview Stars from 2017-2019.
“Although I would have liked to play in the championship for the Founder’s Cup (last season), I’m happy with how far our team went, especially since our team is pretty young. We might not have ended how I wanted to, but that’s just giving me more reason to fight for this season,” McKenna said. “I’m really excited to get back on the ice for the 2020-2021 season because last season ended for me with a mild concussion. This year, I want to focus on improving my speed and skills, but also just to have fun with my team in my senior season.”
Fun on the ice during her hockey career has included playing in a tournament at the University of Notre Dame. “It’s my favorite rink I’ve ever played in and winning the tournament championship there is something I’ll never forget,” she said.
McKenna also won the Three Rivers Cup in Pittsburgh as a Glenview Star. “It was the first tournament of the season and our team really came together,” she said.
“My favorite goal of my career was when I was playing for Glenview. I remember skating from goal line to goal line to score the game-winning goal to send our team to the state tournament. It felt like the whole season was leading up to that moment, and all my work paid off.”
Her off-ice accomplishments are just as noteworthy, as she now applies to colleges, which she said, “has been making me both excited and anxious.” She plans to study architecture or civil engineering in college.
McKenna is taking four AP classes this semester (Physics Lab C, Calculus BC, European History, and Literature and Composition). She’s made the Principal’s Honors Roll for six semesters, “so I think I’ve been able to balance my commitments pretty well so far,” she said.
She also is a Querbes Scholar, which is Saint Viator’s honors program for high-achieving students who aim to enrich themselves and the community around them.
Off the ice, she also plays piano, which she’s played longer than she’s played hockey. “It’s been difficult, but I’m glad that I have stuck with it for the last 15 years,” said McKenna, who also has been elected to student council the last four years. “I enjoy student council, being able to see the changes we talk about in our meetings being made in the school.”
In addition, for the past three years, McKenna has been a high school mentor to a local middle school’s robotics team. “This year, I’m working with the sixth-grade rookie team, teaching them about coding, mechanics, and the project they work on for their competition. It’s my favorite volunteer role,” she said.
McKenna said she enjoys skating for a combined team and she’s proud to represent Viator.
“The Rebels have opened this opportunity in the northwest suburbs to play girls’ high school hockey. Although the front of my jersey reads Rebels, it’s also important for me to be playing for the Saint Viator lion on my right sleeve,” she said. “As a senior, it’s hard to not feel pressure; everyone expects a lot from you, and you expect a lot from yourself, too. It’s my last competitive season for a sport that I’ve played for 11 years. Hockey has been a huge part of my life, and I want to send it out on a high note.”
SLAPSHOTS WITH … REBELS SENIOR AMELIA McKENNA
Favorite NHL Team: Chicago Blackhawks
Favorite NHL Player: Brent Seabrook or Henrik Lundqvist
Favorite Sports-Themed Movie: Rudy
Favorite Pre-game Meal: “I don’t tend to eat before games, but afterwards I’ll have chicken tenders and chocolate milk.”
Celebrity You’d Like to Meet: John Mulaney
Best Hockey Tip: “I don’t know if it’s the best hockey tip, but definitely the most memorable, is from Coach Jimmy— he is continuously telling me to ‘Be meaner.’”
Teammate You Could See As a Hockey Coach: Caitlyn Malz
Hardest Slapshot on your Team: Anna Sosin
Most Accurate Shot on your Team: Ella Knee
Fastest Skater on your Team: Audrey Hayes
Best High School Jerseys (other than Rebels): Fenwick
Ross Forman has written about Illinois high school hockey for more than 15 years and is the only sportswriter to have covered Illinois High School hockey every year during that stretch. He played locally and then at Indiana University before becoming a referee. Ross was a referee for the State Championship game several years ago at the United Center. Contact Ross by email at Rossco814@aol.com.