Periodically, gophersports.com will catch up with Gopher women's hockey alums throughout the upcoming season. This feature of "Where Are They Now?" is former Gopher captain and United States Olympian Kelly (Stephens) Tysland. As a member of the Maroon and Gold, Stephens finished her Gopher career in 2005 with 218 points in 148 games played, ranking fourth in school history. A strong and physical athlete, Stephens holds the school record in best plus/minus (+170), penalties (121) and penalty minutes (242). Since helping the Gophers to back-to-back national championships, Stephens earned a bronze medal with Team USA and returned to her hometown of Seattle. The following is a question and answer session with the former captain.
Gophersports: You finished your career in 2004-05. What were some of the memories that stick out in your mind the most during your tenure?
Kelly Tysland: Winning back-to-back national championships was amazing, playing in Ridder Arena and having that as our home base was an awesome transition from my freshman to sophomore year.
GS: In 2006 you accomplished your dream and made it to the Winter Olympics and earned a bronze medal. What was it like for you to represent your country and play at the highest level of your sport?
KT: It was an honor to wear the USA jersey and be a part of such an amazing event. The Olympics is such a unique sporting event and was an experience that is one of a kind.
GS: After the Olympics what was the first thing you did after returning to the United States?
KT: Went snowboarding and took a trip to Puerto Rico with some of the U.S. teammates. I hadn’t been able to snowboard due to hockey seasons for almost six years and I was eager to get on the slopes again and I’m a beach bum, so going to a hot, relaxing climate like Puerto Rico was perfect! I just relaxed and was excited to do things I hadn’t had time to do while training.
GS: Since the Olympics, you moved back to Seattle, met and married your husband, Shanon. How is life in Seattle going?
KT: Seattle life is fantastic. I love living in a place surrounded by water and mountains because it’s great to be able to get outside and do so many different activities. Now being married has also opened a whole new chapter in my life and Shanon is such a wonderful and inspiring person and I am grateful to share my future with him.
GS: You, Shanon and your brother, Blake, have started your own business, Experience Momentum. Can you tell us a little bit about it and what you do?
KT: Experience Momentum Inc. is fundamentally about healing inside out and creating a balanced life that you enjoy living. Within Experience Momentum Inc. we offer many different avenues to healthy lifestyles: physical therapy, massage therapy, personal training, circuit training, nutrition programs, community building outings, and an eight-week lifestyle signature program. We had our grand opening this past November and the Wellness Center is up and running. We’re having fun growing and learning in the process of creating and running our business!
GS: Although hockey is on the backburner for you, how have you been able to pertain things you’ve learned as a Gopher hockey player to everyday life?
KT: There are many intangible qualities I have learned as a Gopher that I use daily. In college having good time management, effective communication with teammates and staff, being flexible and knowing how to prioritize and know when sacrifices need to be made to get things done are all qualities that I use all the time that were built while playing hockey.
GS: Since leaving USA Hockey and the University of Minnesota, what is your opinion on the evolutions of both programs?
KT: I feel Minnesota is striving in the right direction and I feel the change over in the coaching staff will be good to keep the program growing and add new perspectives and I feel the same with the coaching change in USA hockey as well. I think having new perspectives and philosophy of the game came be good to keep the programs growing and not get stuck in one viewpoint.
GS: What do you miss most about your college life and/or playing for the Gopher women’s hockey team?
KT: I miss the big games. The excitement of getting ready, having the adrenaline rush during the games and the friendships I made during my time in Minnesota. Also playing in Minnesota coming from Seattle was a huge change in terms of people being excited about the sport itself and it was a great environment to play in. I had a great time in Minnesota being a Gopher. It was the most fun I had playing hockey being a part of a team over four years and having such amazing success during my career there was icing on the cake!