May 2, 2014
MINNEAPOLIS - Junior Shyler Sletta has always felt at home on the ice; however, she did not always want to be a goaltender. Following encouragement from her father, she stuck with it and remained between the pipes as the one stopping the puck instead of the one shooting it. A native of Elko New Market, Minn., Sletta played several sports growing up and was a two-sport athlete at New Prague High School in hockey and soccer. She can't quite pinpoint what it is about hockey that makes it so special to her, but Sletta says it is part of who she is and what she does. The sport management major has enjoyed her Gopher career so far and looks forward to wearing the Maroon and Gold as a senior next season.
How did you first start playing hockey?
My dad played hockey in high school at Prior Lake and my brother played a little when we were kids, so it was just kind of a natural thing to follow what they did.
When I was really young, I did gymnastics, too. My mom had been a gymnast and my dad was a hockey player. I remember one day, they sat me down in the kitchen and told me I had to pick one or the other because they were both winter sports and it was getting to be too much. I picked hockey, and I think my mom cried for about a week every time she thought about it. It's just the sport that has always held my attention the most.
What other sports did you play growing up?
I played softball, but not in high school. I played four years of volleyball up until my sophomore year and then I switched to soccer. I liked playing soccer because I got to be a forward and play offense.
I don't really know what it was about hockey that makes me enjoy it the most. Now it's not even at the point where I have to think about, hockey is just what I do. I remember it being really fun as a kid, just being able to goof around and shoot pucks in the basement for hours and hours on end. I've always loved it.
How did you decide to become a goalie?
I didn't, actually. I didn't want to be a goalie. When I was around eight years old, everyone had to try it. My dad encouraged me to stick to it. I didn't always like it, but I stuck with it and I ended up being ok with it.
How did you pick the University of Minnesota?
It just kind of all fell together. Coach Brad Frost gave me an opportunity to be a part of a really good team and to stay close to home and my family, which was definitely important to me. After my high school hockey team didn't have the most success, I was looking forward to being part of a very talented, winning team even if I wasn't going to get to play every game. The historical success of the program was a definitely a huge factor in me coming here.
What's your major and what are your future plans?
I'm a sport management major. I really like marketing and promotions, and I'm also really into art and graphic design. I designed my helmet myself. That's definitely something I'm very interested in. I think I'd eventually like to go to back to a technical school and get a degree in graphic design, maybe not immediately, but shortly after I graduate with my sport management major.
How did you get into art?
It was always kind of something I did. I would draw during my classes and my teachers would get mad. I always liked to color. When I was homeschooled in middle school, I got into a local painting class and fell in love with that. I still paint in my free time. It's kind of been just a progression. I took a graphic design course in high school, and I loved it. It's something that I've always wanted to do.
What's your favorite rink away from home?
That's tough. I like going up to Bemidji and Duluth the most. I like Bemidji because I have family up there and it's definitely good to see them, and I like Duluth because you can walk anywhere and it's so nice up there. My freshmen year we won the national championship at AMSOIL Arena, so it definitely holds some good memories.
What's the biggest lesson you've learned from playing hockey?
I think as a third string goalie I've learned some really hard lessons, like persistence and patience. My biggest lesson was stick with it even if it's going to be hard for a while, because you're going to get something out of it no matter what you do.
What's your favorite memory as a Gopher?
So far, my favorite memory is winning the national championship my freshman year. The first one just really stands out in my head. I think losing a couple of games during the season and then winning it all made it that much sweeter. As a freshmen, it was just so cool.
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