By Pam Flores, Co-Vice President
Caroline Smith: Pandemic Shutdown Turned Opportunity for Something New
The pandemic shutdown has impacted all of us in a big way but has been especially tough for our super active hockey girls who so dearly miss being on the ice and working for a chance to play at the United Center to end the season.
But let’s face it, our ladies are strong and refuse to be sidelined completely. Caroline Smith, a senior at Loyola Academy is the perfect example of that resilient spirit! The shutdown gave her the opportunity to learn and enjoy a brand-new sport that she otherwise may have never experienced: Crew.
In addition to playing on the Loyola girls high school team, Caroline also plays for the Mission AAA 19U team, and is a lacrosse goalie for the school in the warmer months. Being active is her way of life.
“When I became aware that the hockey season for both high school and Mission was on pause with no certainty how much or if we would play at all, I decided to go out for Loyola’s field hockey team. I had played it in the past and it is a great hockey cross-over sport,” she explained. “Unfortunately, the field hockey season was also cancelled.”
When field hockey, along with all the fall sports programs were cancelled, that left Caroline looking for another option to stay active and compete. “I knew I needed to be competitive in something during the fall and had heard that crew was still going on. So, I approached the coach and the team welcomed me as a team member and I was thrilled. I was able to try something new and compete at the same time.”
Like girls’ ice hockey, crew is a club sport at Loyola. New Trier and St. Ignatius are the only other local Chicago schools with crew teams, so out-of-state competitions normally help the season take shape.
“The crew season was shorter than normal because we were not able to travel outside of Illinois, but I was able to participate in two Regatta’s against Chicago Rowing Foundation boats,” she noted. “I was a bow pair in the back of the boat, helping steer during both competitions.”
She credits the coaching staff and her teammates in helping her master the position. “I feel like I came into the sport quickly because of the strong support I received from my coaches and teammates. We did not beat the boats we were racing, but I was just so happy being able to play a role and compete.”
Next year Caroline will play lacrosse at Butler University (see the announcement below). When asked how this experience has helped her as an overall athlete, she noted, “All of the sports I have played are team sports, but Crew takes teamwork to a new level. If one person is even slightly out of place or off, the entire team and race is impacted.”
“In addition to giving me a new perspective on teamwork, it also helped me build mental fortitude. There are no stops for whistles or shift breaks in Crew. You cannot stop for a second and need to keep pushing until you cross finish line,” she added.
Caroline really enjoyed the new experience offered to her when her main fall sport was shut down. That is resiliency at its best!
Celebrating our Seniors
Elena Eisenberg, Chicago Romans
Elena has played hockey with the Chicago Romans all four years during high school. She is a center that also plays for the Chicago Jets. She attends Jones College Prep, and next year plans to study Public Health at a University that is still to be named.
Her favorite high school hockey memory was the bus rides to away games. She notes that “the bus rides were always so much fun and brought together our team!”
She would like to thank her parents for all their support during her hockey career. “My parents have had the most positive impact on my hockey career. They are always super encouraging and don’t hesitate to drive me to far away tournaments.”
Elena also plays soccer, enjoys cooking, travelling, and spending time with friends.
Makenna Spearman, Fenwick
Makenna was just about to experience girls high school hockey when the pandemic shut things down. As a senior at Trinity High School, she had heard that Trinity combined with Fenwick and reached out to see if she could join the team for her last year of high school.
“I have been a figure skater all my life and really wanted to give hockey a try,” she noted. “I was thrilled how open Fenwick was to take on a player with so little hockey experience. It is too bad that the season has yet to start.
She has had the opportunity to play some hockey, as she is also playing with the 19U Pink Panthers out of the Franklin Park Ice Arena.
Next year she plans to study education at an Illinois University. Her favorite high school hockey memory was her very first Fenwick practice. “Everyone was so welcoming and helpful! It was a great introduction into the world of hockey,” she added.
Her coaches at Franklin Park have had the most positive impact on your hockey experience. She explained, “Coach Chris and Coach Tim have really helped me throughout my hockey career, and I will forever be grateful to them for all their help!”
In addition to being a figure skater Makenna also swims and enjoys cooking and baking.
The Loyola girls’ hockey team is proud to announce that Caroline Smith has signed her National Letter of Intent to play NCAA Division 1 lacrosse next year at Butler University! Congrats Caroline and Go Bulldogs!