Hockey Is Family for Fenwick Junior Defenseman Elizabeth Mack

By Ross Forman – Elizabeth Mack, a junior defenseman at Fenwick in her third year on the school’s varsity team, is following a family path for the Friars.

Her dad and both of her brothers went to Fenwick and all played hockey during their time at the Chicago Catholic Hockey League (CCHL) powerhouse.

“My dad has been the biggest influence on my hockey career,” said Mack, 17, who lives on the northwest side of Chicago. “When I was 2, he was the one who got me into my first pair of skates and went to almost all of my early games. Then, the older I got, the more I knew how much he loved the game and that made me love it even more. It only mattered that we had fun on the ice and played the best game we could. It didn’t matter how our team played; if we played the best we could, that’s all that mattered. My dad has always known how to make me a better player.”

Richard Mack, a 1986 Fenwick graduate, was a 2-year varsity player.

Kevin Mack (class of 2017) was a 4-year JV player for Fenwick. Michael Mack (class of 2019) played 2 years of JV hockey, then turned to swimming and water polo for his main sports.

Elizabeth Mack, in uniform No. 23, played her youth hockey for the Express, Rangers, Glenview Stars and Team Illinois. She also skates for Glenview this season.

“I play a game that focuses on defending and supporting,” Mack said. “I always try to focus on the open ice and what can be done with it past our blueline. My dad used to tell me that the blue line can make or break the game for you, so until we can win the blueline there isn’t much the team can do as a unit.”

Mack was a freshman in the familiar Fenwick black and white jerseys when the Friars won the Illinois High School Hockey State Championship at the United Center.

The memory never gets old to talk about.

“That was one of the most amazing experiences I have had,” said Mack, who still recalls some of the seniors that season spraying Gatorade all over their jersey to celebrate.

“I remember, in the days leading up to the state championship game, we knew we would have a big crowd, but nothing can compare to walking out on the ice and seeing the massive pack of Friars that was in the stands.”

Mack added, “My freshman season taught me the importance of being a family on and off the ice. Coach Mason Strom said it best, ‘They care about each other off the ice, too. Hockey is just something that a bunch of friends do together. It doesn’t matter what school you go to or what club you play for, we are all Friars on the ice.’”

Mack certainly has developed into a team leader in her third season. She always pushes for everyone to keep a positive attitude on the bench “because how we act is infectious.”

Mack is undecided on her college plans, though she plans to study political science and economics with hopes of going to law school. “I have been looking into a lot of Virginia and New York schools; I am excited to see what the next few years bring,” she said.

Off the ice, Mack is either in the theater or pool at Fenwick. As a freshman, she joined the Blackfriars guild crew, which is the school’s theater crew for theatrical shows. She is the construction manager and an assistant stage manager. Plus, Mack joined the water polo team as a sophomore and the swim team as a junior.

She also is a part of the Preaching Team at Fenwick, comprised of 12 upperclassmen who try to show the importance of Fenwick’s Dominican tradition through campus ministry.

“Being a part of these extracurriculars has brought me some of my closest friends. Along with the girls hockey team, I have four families within the walls of Fenwick,” she said.

“Swimming is the best workout I can do for hockey because it makes me a stronger athlete all around and I have found that swimming is one of the best ways to clear your mind during stressful days.”

Slapshots With … Fenwick Defenseman Elizabeth Mack

Little-Known Fact: “During the quarantine I learned to solve the Rubik’s Cube in under 30 seconds. The fastest I have solved it is in 24.8 seconds.”
It’s a Fact: “I took Irish dancing when I was little because my mom and uncle danced when they were younger.”
Playing Defense: “I think it is the best position on the ice because you are forced to think about the game a few steps ahead of everyone else on the ice.”
Team Strength: “After the untimely end to (last) season, I knew how strong our team could come back because of how much we cared about each other when we got the email that our season had ended.”
Favorite NHL Team: “As a lifelong Chicagoan, am I allowed to say anything other than the Blackhawks?!”
Favorite NHL Player: “I love how Steven Stamkos plays. I have always been a fan of his shot and how quick he is on his feet throughout the whole game. He is just a fun player to watch.”
Favorite Sports-Themed Movie: Rocky – “I remember binge watching all the Rocky movies when I was in grade school; I still love those movies. It really depicts the importance of putting in the work when others don’t want to and having the grit to keep going. It is an incredible movie; I recommend it to any athlete.”
Favorite Pre-Game Meal: “Before games I like to keep things light and try not to eat two hours before game time. It all goes back to what I ate that morning for breakfast. I always love a good skillet or my dad’s eggs benedict to start off a game day.”
Celebrity You’d Like To Meet: Emma Watson or Julie Andrews – “I grew up with Little Women, Beauty and the Beast, and the Harry Potter books, so seeing Emma Watson portray every one of my favorite characters from my childhood has been incredible, and Julie Andrews was the first actress to really love musicals and working in the theater. Listening to Eliza Doolittle in the original soundtrack of My Fair Lady, Mary Poppins, and Sound of Music is one of my favorite things to do.”
Best Hockey Tip: “Tom Geiger told me that a hockey player can’t be great if they weren’t having fun. It doesn’t matter the work you could be putting in on and off the ice, if you don’t look forward to coming to the rink, then you can’t reach your full potential. I think it applies out of the rink, too. We have to enjoy what we do to be great.”
Teammate Who You Could See As A Hockey Coach: Freshman Riley Evans – “She is an amazing leader.”
Hardest Slapshot On Fenwick: Sophomore Brynne West – “She has some real power and accuracy behind her shot.”
Most Accurate Shot: “Gabi Scramek can always find a way to roof the puck from anywhere.”
Fastest Skater: Sophomore Alessia DiSilvestro
Best High School Uniforms (other than Fenwick): Latin School of Chicago

<strong><span class="has-inline-color has-vivid-red-color">ROSS FORMAN</span></strong>

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.

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