Nov. 19, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS - Baylee Gillanders grew up with kids and hockey all around her on her family farm. With two older siblings and four cousins next door, Gillanders learned to skate and play hockey with family by her side. Not surprisingly, it was the family atmosphere among the Gophers that attracted Gillanders to the University of Minnesota. Beyond college hockey, the Kyle, Saskatchewan, native dreams of working with children as a speech pathologist, but first she intends to further her education in graduate school. Despite her big plans for the future, Gillanders is currently focused on the present and enjoying her senior year with the Golden Gophers.
What was it like growing up on a farm?
Awesome! I loved it. I miss it because this is more like the city life. It was great. You get to be outside more, and there were a lot of things to do when you were younger. With my farm in particular, there were a lot of kids. We weren't bored!
How has your family influenced your hockey career?
They all influenced my career a lot. We're really competitive. I have an older brother, Dustin, and an older sister, Kali, and they played Division I hockey at Colgate and Clarkson. I had a lot to look up to in them. My sister always helped me out because we played on quite a few teams together. She's only two years older than me, so she would push me hard to be better. After every game, my dad always had something encouraging to say. My cousin Brienna is the same age, so we would push each other as well.
How did you choose the University of Minnesota?
The team helped out a lot. When I came for my official and unofficial visits, you could just feel that they were all close. The coaches were awesome. They were all really nice and welcoming. I liked that there were a lot of options for schooling, degree-wise. I didn't know what I wanted to do yet, so coming here I had a lot of options.
What are your career plans?
I'm a Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences major. I want to be a speech pathologist, and I want to work with kids, probably before school-age. I plan to go to grad school. I'm not sure if I'm going to apply this year or take a year off, but it's a two-and-a-half year Master's degree. I job-shadowed a speech pathologist back home during the summer, and I fell in love with it.
Who is your favorite opponent to play against?
It depends. I always like playing Duluth because they're a big rival. Wisconsin and North Dakota are big ones, too, just because we've always met up with one another toward the end of the season. All three of them are really good teams for the most part. The game is that much higher intensity and faster for both teams.
In addition to winning two national championships, what is your favorite memory as a Gopher?
Off-ice, there is bus-a-roke, and road trips are always really fun. And then on-ice, I'd say when we played in Wisconsin and we filled the bowl. It was awesome to play in front of that big of a crowd. Toward the end of the year last year, we had a really good fan base at our home games, too. There's almost too many to point out just one memory.
What's the biggest life lesson you've learned from hockey?
You have to work hard for the things that you want, whether it's for hockey or in life. Things aren't just going to be handed to you. You do have to work for them.
What do you think makes Gopher hockey so special?
We are all always really close. I think our main focus is to have a really close team. It also helps to have people who love the game and love to win, so you're that much more competitive and you want to get better every day at practice. During my four years, every team has had that will to win and wanted to do the things that get you there, but it is really important that the team is close.
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