Senior spotlight: Clara Billings

Emma EstebStaff Writer

Clara Billings has been a vital member of the Gustavus women’s hockey team since her first year in 2019. Appearing in all 28 games of her first year, Billings finished fourth on the team with nine goals and second on the team with four game winning goals. She led the Gusties with 114 shots on goal, putting her fourth in the MIAC. Her rockstar first-year season was just the beginning for the Rochester, MN native. 

With her sophomore season being cut short due to COVID, Billings still made her mark. She played in all five games and logged a +3 rating on the season. The Gustie hockey team was a force to be reckoned with last season as they finished second in the NCAA tournament. Billings scored a pair of clutch, game-tying playoff goals in the NCAA Quarterfinal vs. UW-River Falls and in the National Championship game vs. Middlebury.  “My favorite memory is definitely going to the National Tournament last year in Vermont. Just being there with my teammates was very special and such a great experience,” Billings said. 

She skated in 28 games for the Gusties last year and had 12 assists, finishing ninth in the MIAC with a +17 rating, and scored 19 points putting her 14th in the MIAC. She is also a three-time ACHA All-American Scholar and a two-time MIAC Academic-All Conference. “My biggest inspiration is Laura Vanelli, she played hockey here at Gustavus and actually coached me in high school. In hockey, she is definitely my biggest inspiration. She had a full-time job at the Mayo Clinic while she was coaching my team so just seeing how she was able to do all of that was very inspiring to me,” Billings said. 

Billings is a Biology major and is hoping to get into medical school post graduation where she wants to become a physician one day. She excels in both school and athletics and is able to balance both. “I put a lot of things on my Google calendar and stick to my schedule. I always make sure to block off time to study whether it’s before practice or after practice and really just sticking to that helps a lot. Another thing is just prioritizing things that are more important because we are always going to be busy and there’s always something to do but to be able to balance school and sports you just have to pick what’s most important at that moment,” Billings said. 

The season is already underway for the women’s hockey team and they are currently undefeated. The team is ranked number one in the nation after the most recent USCHO college hockey poll. The Gusties are 8-0 overall and 4-0 in the MIAC. Billings was just named MIAC athlete of the week for her offensive performance as she scored seven points in the Gusties’ last three games. Billings scored two goals and two assists against UW-Superior last Tuesday, an assist in Friday’s game against Bethel, and then got two more goals in their 7-1 victory on Saturday. Three of her goals were scored on the power play contributing to her national leading statistic. 

She is the leader of goals in the MIAC with nine goals so far this season and averages 1.13 goals per game. She is fourth in the MIAC with a 0.41 shot percentage and is number one in power play goals with six goals in the last eight games. The domination from the Gustie women’s hockey team is setting them up for another successful season and hopefully another National appearance. “I am most looking forward to winning games. I’m also really excited for J-term because we are all able to focus on hockey a little bit more and we do tons of team bonding and stuff like that because we have more time,” Billings said. 

Billings is a strong leader on and off the ice. “Clara is an amazing teammate and friend that I get the privilege of looking up to. Not only does she contribute to the stat sheet, she is always a person I can find to pick me up after a bad day or a bad shift. I cannot imagine my time here at Gustavus and on the hockey team without her,” Sophomore teammate Rachel Wieland said.  

The team has an extremely strong bond and has been a strong unit within the hockey community. The girls all have the same goal in mind and strive to be the very best. “I think my favorite thing about this team is all of our little traditions and superstitions that we do before every game. We have quite a lot of them and so it’s fun to get hyped before the game by doing all of those,” Billings said. The Gustie women’s hockey team will play Saint Mary’s University this Friday at home and away on Saturday.  

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