All For the Love of Hockey
Pittsburgh Penguins Elite Girls - Stephanie Walkom
Compiled by Kylie Penticost
At an early age, Stephanie Walkom developed a strong passion for hockey. She was born in a country where streets shut down during a heated gold medal match-up; she moved to a city where the hockey fire has grown so bright – far beyond any other US city; and now, she has decided to make it her career goal to stay involved in sports.
Kylie Penticost: Tell me a little bit about yourself. (i.e.: family, hobbies outside of hockey, travel, etc.)
Stephanie Walkom: Both my mother and father were born and raised in Canada. My father grew up in North Bay, Ontario and my mother grew up in Hamilton, Ontario where I too was born and lived for one year before moving to Pittsburgh. I have a younger brother, Brendan (14) playing bantam AAA and a younger sister, Brianna (8) playing at RMU Island Sports Center. Outside of hockey, I enjoy spending time with my family and traveling with them to Canada for summer vacation.
KP: What are you taking in post-secondary school next year? In addition, what do you hope to do with it once you are finished?
SW: Next year I will be majoring in Communications and hope to work in the sports or business field upon graduation. Not sure exactly what I want to do but hope 4 years at Penn State will give me some career options.
KP: Why did you choose to get into hockey, and how long have you played?
SW: Before I played hockey, I was more into dancing and figure skating. However, when I was about eight years old I got bored with it, so my dad put hockey equipment on me and surprisingly, I enjoyed it a lot more than twirling around in a figure skating tutu. I have been playing on a team since I was nine years old and have loved it ever since.
KP: What position do you play? In addition, why that particular position?
SW: I play both left and right defense. Up until I turned 13, I played forward, but it turned out it wasn’t for me. My dad originally put me back on defense when we didn’t have enough for one of my girls U14 hockey games and I cried the entire game. After that, it just grew on me and now I love playing defense much more than I do playing offense.
KP: What has been one of your most memorable hockey moments?
SW: Winning Districts and going to National’s four times in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2012 and getting to play hockey against the best players in the United States. These competitions have been incredible moments in my life. Although those are moments I’ll never forget, the most memorable moment was when I was fourteen. We were playing in a tournament up in Canada and my entire family was there, cousins and all. My Pittsburgh Team was in overtime and it had gone to a shoot out. When I went down, I got the puck past the goalie and into the net, and all I remember is everyone coming and piling on top of me. At the time, I felt like a superstar, it was the highlight of my hockey career so far.
KP: Who has been your biggest supporter during your hockey career? How have they shown support?
SW: Both of my parents have supported me since I first started playing. My dad has been coaching me since the beginning, taking me to almost every showcase and tournament when he isn’t working. My mom has also been there for me every step of the way, attending my games when she is not busy with Brendan and Brianna's activities, and helping me to reach my goals.
KP: As a female hockey player, what are some of the pressures or limitations you face with the sport?
SW: For me, I have never really had a problem with limitations on playing, aside from being angered when the referee calls one of my teammates for a checking penalty. I know we are allowed to bump each other, but I think the female leagues should be a little more lenient when it comes to girls checking. I felt pressure when I was younger and playing with the boys, but we were all good friends and they accepted me as a player.
KP: What piece of advice would you give to girls who are just starting out in hockey?
SW: I would tell them to keep practicing and working hard, but to have fun playing and making friends.
KP: What is a hockey dream of yours, and why?
SW: I have always wanted to play Division 1 ice hockey. Lucky for me, that dream is coming true.