Senior athletes of any collegiate sports team are always looked up to and admired. Their ability to lead the team and set examples is invaluable. This week, the spotlight shines on the Gustavus Women’s Hockey Team’s only senior athlete: Senior Sydney Henrichs.
Henrichs came to Gustavus from Minnesota’s own Eden Prairie High School where she enjoyed relative success. Her team won the Minnesota High School State Tournament her junior year, and placed third her senior year. Henrichs comes from a hockey-loving family. Her grandfather played for the Gophers, and her dad for the Mavericks in Mankato. With these influences growing up, she was practically able to skate before she could walk.
“I’ve been playing hockey as long as I can remember. I am so passionate about the sport and I love getting to play it with some of my best friends. I also love getting to go out on the ice and just forget about the world for a little while,” Henrichs said.
Hockey has been a big part of Henrich’s life. It has given her the opportunity to create many solid friendships as well as to escape from other life stressors. Henrichs’ passion for the sport has led her to be a part of very successful teams.
“It’s hard for me to pick a most memorable experience from my time on this team, but one of them would certainly have to be winning the MIAC playoffs last season,” Henrichs said.
The Gustavus Women’s Hockey Team had an outstanding 2019-2020 season that ended with a MIAC playoffs title. After a season where the team accomplished such notable tasks such as sweeping St. Thomas in a series, the team seemed destined to be MIAC Champions. Henrichs and her team ended up shutting out Augsburg for the title. Not all of Henrichs’ time at Gustavus has been about success and glory, though. There have been times of hardship accompanied by perseverance and dedication.
“I’ve faced some adversity with injury in my time at Gustavus, and the thought of returning to the sport and team I love is what kept me hopeful during that time. Playing at Gustavus has further instilled in me a sense of dedication and selflessness. We always practice a team first mentality. Everyone is expected to buy in and sell out for the team. This means buying into the team philosophy and expectations, and selling out for your teammates on the ice,” Henrichs said.
Through good times and bad, Henrichs and the women’s hockey team have built a strong community where they know they can rely on one another. As the only senior on the team, Henrichs is admired by many of her teammates.
“I think I have been a reliable leader that my teammates can look up to and come to with anything. I think it’s important that younger student-athletes have an upperclassman to go to for advice on how to balance athletics and academics among other things,” Henrichs said.
Henrichs’ has taken her leadership skills one step further by also joining the Student Athlete Volunteer Educators (SAVE) program. Her experience with managing sports and school at the same time has given her valuable lessons she can pass on to other student-athletes. This year of all years has been one where underclassmen have had to rely on their older teammates. The pandemic has put all sports seasons in jeopardy. Henrichs and the women’s hockey team are hoping for a chance to compete starting in 2021.
“Honestly, this year has been really rough so far. It has been extremely difficult with unconventional practices and inconsistent schedules, but we are very hopeful and doing everything we possibly can to increase our chances of having a season,” Henrichs said.
This year has seen the rise of many challenges for sports. Many athletes are simply hoping for a chance to compete. Henrichs, being a senior, is hoping for one last opportunity to participate in the sport she grew up playing.
“I would be absolutely heartbroken if we did not get the chance to compete this season. I feel like all any senior athlete can ask for is the chance to give it one more go and say goodbye to their sport. I think the part that would hurt the most is not knowing that the last time was the last time,” Henrichs said.
The MIAC currently has plans to begin the hockey season early next year, but plans are constantly changing because of the pandemic.
Henrichs has accomplished a lot in her many years of playing hockey. As the only senior on her team, she is seen as a leader and mentor. She has persevered through adversity and worked hard to achieve her goals. The year 2020 has proven to be a real challenge for athletes. Henrichs is hoping to get one more shot at playing the game she loves this winter.