Eating fondue in the Swiss Alps and shouting “Ricola” at the top of her lungs, Trish Kemp, a senior co-captain on the women’s ice hockey team, had the time of her life in Switzerland two weeks ago.
Chosen to play on the Under-22 Canadian National Team, Kemp was flustered, but ecstatic about the opportunity.
The decision came about four hours before the Big Red was set to depart for a road trip to Niagara and Trish had those hours to choose her fate for the next week.
“I was very caught off guard. I had sort of put the thought out of my mind because I wasn’t chosen for the summer game series against the U.S. National Team so, when I found out, I was surprised, but I think that added to the fun of it too,” Kemp said of her quick decision.
When head coach Carol Mullins sat down with Trish to give her the news, she was tense and Trish was worried that something bad had happened. Luckily, it was the complete opposite. It was more like the chance of a lifetime.
Kemp is no stranger to hockey. Growing up in a fanatic hockey family, Trish taught herself to skate when she was four-years-old, as she pushed her favorite chair around her family’s homemade backyard rink. They would flood their backyard at night and shovel it the next afternoon to perfect their playing surface.
“Every night after dinner, we would go out on our backyard rink and skate around and shoot a bit. Our whole family is into hockey. My grandma still plays once a week in the winter and she stays really competitive. My uncle played pro hockey and my entire family is just totally into it,” Kemp commented on her relatives.
When she was seven, Kemp was lucky enough to find an organized girl’s hockey program, a rarity at that time. She had to convince her mother, but in Kanata, Ontario in the late 1980s, you could have seen Trish’s first organized hockey action. The real competition didn’t come until she was twelve, but the groundwork had been laid for a great career.
In her time at Cornell, playing hockey in the competitive ECAC, Trish has learned a lot and her game has changed quite a bit.
“In the ECAC, you have to be a little tougher. My league in Canada was rough, but this is a step up and the speed is much quicker. What I have learned most at Cornell is to play with confidence — with the puck and off the puck,” Kemp said. “As a freshman, I didn’t have that, but the confidence I have gained definitely helped me in playing for the National team.”
It’s a good thing she was prepared. Once the team landed in Switzerland, it did little of anything but play hockey. In the seven-day stint, the team played four games, with one practice on each game day and a double practice session on each non-game day.
“We played a LOT of hockey while we were over there,” Trish chuckled.
Team Canada played in the Three Nations Cup against Switzerland and Germany and went undefeated in four games.
Although Kemp did not score any points for Team Canada, she learned a lot from the coaches and players and just had a great time practicing with her fellow Canadians. But Kemp did not get through the experience without a scolding. With no points and no penalties, Trish’s father had a few words for her when they talked on the phone.
“It was funny because I had no penalties or points. My dad said, ‘You’re not even on any of the score sheets!'” Trish joked about her father’s reaction.
But it didn’t matter that no points were scored. Just being recognized as one of Canada’s great players and being able to play with the other talents was enough for Trish.
“It was just another step up in terms of competition. Practices were so much fun because we were playing such good hockey. I got out there and felt slow, but I had a lot of inner pride. It was about playing hockey and representing my country,” Kemp said of her opportunity.
Although the team was busy on the ice, there was a little extra time for ordinary sightseeing as well. Getting whipped around as the bus driver led the team up narrow roads in the steep mountains of the Alps, Trish was a bit frightened as she journeyed to the most exciting team dinner of the trip.
“We had the traditional Swiss meal and ate our cheese fondue in the Alps, looking out onto a pasture of cows. It was pretty funny,” Kemp reminisced about her trip.
Yes, the Alps were cool and it was fun to yell “Ricola” and hear it echo through the mountains just like the commercial, but, of course, the most memorable part of the trip was skating and competing with her nation’s best players and representing Canada.
“Putting on that Team Canada jersey has been a huge goal for me ever since I was a little girl. That was my ultimate goal and it feels great to have achieved it. This year [at Cornell], I want to enjoy being on the ice every time. I want to play as hard as I can every time I’m out there and really enjoy my last year of competitive hockey,” Trish added.
Archived article by Kelli Larsen