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.
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