MINNEAPOLIS - The Golden Gopher women's hockey team welcomes four new freshmen for the 2014-15 season. One of the talented freshmen is left-handed forward Cara Piazza, who joins the Gophers from Darien, Ill.
Piazza served an assistant captain for the Chicago Mission Girls U-19 club team, which she played for while attending Downers Grove South High School. Piazza and the Chicago Mission finished as runners-up at the USA Hockey Girls' Tier I National Championship in 2011 and 2013.
In addition to her club team, Piazza has also skated with the 2013 U.S. Under-18 team and has attended USA Hockey development camps. Piazza is currently attending the 2014 USA Hockey Women's National Festival in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Gopher Sports: How did you first start playing hockey?
Cara Piazza: I started playing hockey because of my brother. When I was four years old, my dad wanted to get us out of the house since my brother had a lot of energy. Just for fun he took us to the rink to skate, and I have loved the game ever since.
GS: What other sports did you play growing up?
CP: I played soccer when I was younger up until about 4th grade. I did that for fun, but it was hard to play soccer and hockey since the seasons overlapped. I also played softball for the Downers Grove Rebels up until this summer. I enjoyed the sport a lot, and my favorite thing was how close my team was and all the friends I made through it.
GS: How did you end up choosing the University of Minnesota?
In the beginning of the recruiting process, I never thought of Minnesota as a place I would go to school because I didn't know much about it. At a few summer camps, I got to meet the coaching staff and I had an instant bond with them. Afterwards, I went for a visit and fell in love. The campus right outside the city is a perfect location, the coaches and players are very personable, the team has a history of success, and the academics are great. Getting an offer to play here was such an honor, I couldn't think of a reason to say no.
GS: Do you have a major or career field in mind?
I am still undecided on my major, but I am interested in any fields with math and science. I have always imagined becoming a doctor, but I also want to look into other science career fields before I decide. I think it would be fun to somehow remain involved with a sports team, preferably hockey, if that's possible.
GS: What do you like to do in your free time?
I really like spending time with my friends and family. I think it is important to make time for people I am close with, so whenever I don't have hockey or school I try to do that.
GS: How did you join the Chicago Mission club team?
When I was 10 years old, I played for Team Illinois, but after my second year there, two of my favorite coaches switched over and began the girls organization for Chicago Mission. A couple other girls and I followed them, and I played there ever since. I started as a U12, and after seven years I finished with the U19 team. Being part of that organization was like being part of a family. It was an awesome experience playing for the coaches and being a part of the Mission.
GS: What has your USA Hockey experience been like?
I was lucky enough to be invited to the August festival two times and to play at the U18 Women's World Championship in Finland. I had such a fun time. There's no feeling like putting on the USA jersey and being able to represent my country. I also got to meet a few Olympians, which was something I never thought I would do. I hope to continue with USA Hockey in the future.
GS: Do you have any pre-game rituals or superstitions?
I am not too superstitious, but I always make sure to put on my right sock first and then put on the left one. Then with my skates I usually tie the left one before the right just because I have been doing that all my life.
GS: What are you most looking forward to about Gopher women's hockey?
I am excited to play for a team at a Big Ten university. Being on a team brings a sense of community, so I am excited to become good friends with my teammates along with playing for a great team in front of a big crowd.
Gopher Women's Hockey Live vs. Minnesota Duluth
Minnesota and Minnesota Duluth face off at 4 p.m. Saturday at AMSOIL Arena.
Gophers Win 7-3 over Bulldogs
Minnesota received three points from Milica McMillen on two goals and one assist in the win.
Frost, Piazza Preview Minnesota Duluth
Hear from head coach Brad Frost and sophomore Cara Piazza on this weekend's series at Minnesota Duluth.