Children all over the country grow up fantasizing about playing hockey for the United States of America. For one local teen that dream may come true sooner rather than later.
Clinton High School Junior Mia Lopata recently attended the USA Hockey Girls Development Camp in St. Cloud, Minnesota. The camp ran from June 25th through July 1st, 2019 and consisted of female hockey players of the 2002 or 2003 birth year. The camp featured 144 players on 8 teams. Each team had 6 defense, 10 forwards, and 2 goalies.
Three-time Olympian Hilary Knight, who attended these same development camps growing up surprised the girls during the week.
Mia, who plays defense on the Clinton Girls Varsity Team, was kind enough to answer some questions about her experience during the week long camp.
315: When did you start playing hockey?
ML: I started skating when I was 2 and started playing hockey when I was 6. I played on boys teams in Clinton until my second year of Peewees.
What was involved in the process of getting selected for the camp? Did USA Hockey reach out to you, or did you have to apply for a spot?
I had to tryout. First was a section tryout, followed by a New York state tryout. From there I was selected to attend the camp in Minnesota.
How does it feel knowing you are one of the top 16/17 year old female hockey players in the nation?
It feels great. It is good for confidence.
What did a typical day at the camp consist of?
Wake up and have breakfast with my team. Then we would have a team bonding exercise before practice. After practice was lunch and a seminar where we learned about nutrition, sports & conditioning, and mental skills. We would play a game at night, followed by dinner and free time to hang out with the other girls. Bed by 10:00pm.
What was your favorite part about this experience?
Meeting new people! People who will be future teammates/rivals in college. (Mia has already committed to play NCAA DI hockey at Quinnipiac University)
How will you use what you learned throughout the course of the camp to help improve this upcoming season and in the future?
Take criticism from the coaches and work on those skills. Use the nutrition tips I learned to improve eating habits. Work on having better mental toughness during games.
What are your goals for this season and the future?
Work to make USA Hockey Nationals in the Spring. Make it back to USA camp next year and hopefully be chosen to attend the 18U camp after that.
Do you have any advice for younger hockey players who want to make it to that next level?
Be a coach-able athlete and be willing to do what it takes to get better.
Even though you weren’t selected for the 18U Select Camp are you still happy you attended the camp?
Yes, it was a great experience and a lot of fun.
USA Hockey selected a total of 18 players to attend the Girls 18U Select Camp, with only two of those being defenseman. Unfortunately, Mia was not one of those two. In the 4 games her team played she did get on the score sheet, recording a goal and a penalty.