Though they are now bound together as Nittany Lions, many of the women’s hockey players were once teammates by different names.
Take freshmen Micayla Catanzariti, Katie Zinn and Celine Whitlinger, who played together at Gilmour Academy in Ohio last season.
Assistant coach Gina Kearns said the “Gilmour girls” were a foundation for the team coming into this inaugural season because of the friendships they had already built, and the three are easy to like.
“They’re joking. They’re laughing,” Kearns said. “When you have that in a group, it makes it comfortable for everyone else to just kind of follow in the footsteps.”
Head coach Josh Brandwene said he is thrilled with the entire group he has based on its individual merits, but it is an added bonus that some have played together because the aspect of familiarity is good to have.
“It’s always easier to start off with people you know,” Catanzariti said. “It’s comfortable coming here with them, but at the same time, just everyone’s already good friends.”
Catanzariti was roommates with Whitlinger at Gilmour and said she may have been pulling her fellow Californian in Penn State’s direction a little, but in the end, Whitlinger loved the school.
The Nittany Lions also feature several players from Michigan. One of those Michigan natives, defender Madison Smiddy, said it helped to play with another defender in Jordin Pardoski for the Detroit Honeybaked club team.
Smiddy said she and Pardoski were defensive partners for the entire duration of the 2010-2011 season and it aids her because the two have had chemistry before.
“We were able to work with each other and learn how each other moves or what each other does,” Smiddy said. “It definitely helped [with] this year playing with each other as defensive partners [and] being able to use that as a building block.”
The 5-foot-7 defender said it’s cool to come to Penn State with people from the same state, and it is easier to relate to those people because of common bonds over certain restaurants or Michigan-centric brands.
Although not all the players that have played in the same organizations played at the same time, Kearns said it always nice if a player goes back home and spreads “the good Penn State word.”
“[It is a] mob mentality and just not only that, we’re so new that a lot of people still don’t even know quite how we’re running things here,” the Boston graduate said. “It’s definitely good to get that word of mouth out within the team and within different organizations.”