MINNEAPOLIS -- Gophers senior co-captain Cara Piazza caught up with the voice of Gopher Women's Hockey Dan Hamann before last Friday's game against Ohio State. Piazza reflects on the serving as a team captain and her goals for the season and beyond.
Listen to Cara Piazza's pregame interview with Dan Hamann.
Dan Hamann: Cara, it’s got to be quite an honor putting that "C" on for your senior year, so what was it like when you found out you'd be serving as a team captain this year?
Cara Piazza: I was definitely really excited, I mean I say it every time someone asks, just with the legacy that goes with our captains, it’s kind of a huge honor to be able to wear the 'C' along with some of the best. I always go back to Lee Stecklein because she was my captain for a couple of years, and she’s an incredible leader and obviously an incredible player. To be able to have that honor is really exciting, and especially to be able to do it with Baldy [Sydney Baldwin] is really exciting because we’ve been roommates and best friends since freshman year. I know for us, it’s a little bittersweet because Kelly Pannek is not here this year, and we know if she was here, she would be a big part of the leadership as well, so just kind of remembering her a little bit when she’s gone. She’s been a huge leader on our team, she’s very vocal, me and Baldy, I think we play really well off each other in our leadership styles because they are very different, but then also, I know we’ve learned a lot from Kelly, because she’s a natural-born leader and having her in our grade the past couple of years, I think she’s helped us a lot even though she’s not here with us this year while she’s training for the big Olympics.
DH: Who is good cop, bad cop between the two of you?
CP: Yeah, we joked around about it a lot, and I think someone called Baldy the bad cop once and she got a little offended, and to be honest, I feel like both of us do a good job of keeping a balance with a little bit of good cop and a little bit of bad cop. I think Baldy is way more organized and on top of stuff than I am. Her major is HR, so she’s way better with the planning and organizing stuff, so I wouldn’t consider it a bad cop roll, I would consider it better at keeping stuff together, where I feel like my roll is more creating relationships with people, and that part of it I really enjoy, getting to know especially the younger girls just because freshman year is so hard and with the new adjustment. For me, I'm more of a feeler, so something I take a lot of passion in is like that smaller stuff where Baldy is a lot better with organizing and making sure we’re keeping everything straight and in line and everyone’s on the same page, which is something I’m terrible at, so it’s a good balance.
DH: Imagine that, you’re an engineering major and you’re not organized, but I guess that’s kind-of stereotypical of an engineer?
CP: Yeah I definitely think so, I mean it’s kind of like with engineering, you just need to get everything done. No one’s papers look clean and organized it’s just that you have to get the problems done in the quickest way possible and not really focus on that organization part of it that Baldy is really naturally good at.
DH: What was the captain’s roll there last weekend, trying to rebound from that devastating loss on Friday [against Merrimack]? Did you guys go into the locker room and say much of anything after that?
CP: It’s so tough after a loss, because it’s not like anyone wanted to lose and it’s not like we played bad. We had 57 shots on net, and I thought we played really well as a team, so I think for our coaches, like Frosty, he says a quick couple things and especially it being our first game, they weren’t really mad at us, they just reminded us that, yeah other teams are good too and we’re going to get every team’s best game. Frosty did a great job at leading us through that loss and then me and Baldy just followed along with the coaches and made sure everyone stays positive and encouraged, because we did play really well. Sometimes it’s hard because the scoreboard isn’t indicative of how the game went. I think as a captain in that kind of situation, just stay positive with the team even though we don’t really need to say too much, it’s more of our actions.
DH: As we mentioned, you’re an engineering major, you switched to that major last year and this year, you got to do an internship during your summer at Andersen Windows, so if you could talk about what your role was at your internship and what did you learn?
CP: Yeah, definitely, it was a really good experience. I know for a lot of engineering students, internships are super important just to get your foot in the door at a company, and for me, I was a little behind on the game and I never went to the career fair. I applied for one internship at Andersen Windows and decided if I got it, it was meant to be, and if I didn’t, I would just take a class over the summer. Again, me not being very organized, and lucky enough, I got an interview. It was a twelve-week internship. It was a really good experience just because I’ve never had a job before. They give each intern a project, and I had twelve weeks to work on it and then the last week we got to present to the CEO and a lot of executives of the company.
It was really fun just to be able to meet people. My mentor at work was the head of a department, so to meet people like that and get immersed in something that I was so not used to was a really good experience, and then being able to present in front of a large group of people, especially the CEO at Andersen, it’s a huge company and it’s a great company. I had a really good experience, and it kind of directed me and showed me what I want to do and what I don’t want to do in the future. I loved it a lot, but I think I’m kind of going to focus on the biomedical engineering part, which was my original plan in the first place. I think I learned a lot; I learned how to be professional. I made a lot of really good connections, and I’m excited for what the future holds. I’m definitely not throwing Andersen out of the picture for a future career, but I definitely think I’m going to focus more on the biomedical end and that’s kind of the goal.
DH: I also read too, somewhere, that one of your hopes is to actually go to Africa and improve water systems there. I see your face lighting up, so that must be a big, passionate goal of yours?
CP: Yes, it definitely is. For me, it's more the travel part, to be able to go to a new country, somewhere I've never been before, Africa or a third-world country that is very different than America. I took a class last year called Fluids, which was basically working on water systems and how water flows through pipes. Each year over winter break, our professor takes a group of students to Africa to do exactly that. For me, it's something I'm definitely interested in, but it's more about being able to serve people in an area that's not similar to the U.S., just having a heart for people where it's so different; in America, we're so sheltered, so I would love to be able to experience something like that. It doesn't have to be water systems; it could honestly be anything, even going on a mission trip. It's definitely something I'd like to experience before I get older and have a family, while I have a little bit more time on my hands.
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