Amid a flurry of draft picks and high-profile signings, the Riveters have also accquired a new assistant coach. Sis Paulsen, former head coach at New England College, comes by way of the New Jersey Colonials, where she directed the girls’ program. She played for Wisconsin from 1999-2003, and is currently represents the girls’ and women’s Atlantic Division for USA Hockey. Last week, we talked about how that road led to the Riveters.
Did you grow up playing hockey? With boys or girls, or both? How would you describe your experience?
Yes, (I) started playing when I was 4 because my older brother played. I played boys hockey through high school (there were no girls teams). The first girls team I ever played on was my freshman year of college at Wisconsin. I had a great experience playing with the boys. They treated me well (probably because my brother would protect me if they didn't!) and I was seen as a teammate and opponent, not a girl on a boys hockey team.
You've played hockey yourself, coached college hockey, and worked with a girls' hockey program, as well as USA Hockey. Which role taught you the most?
All of them. Playing teaches you how to be a teammate, student and athlete. Coaching teaches you so much about the game of hockey as well as how to manage different personalities and get the best out of each player. Whether they are 4 years old or 24, skilled or a role player, you have to learn about them...where they came from, their experiences, their home life, etc. By doing so, you figure out how to motivate and push them to be the best they can be, not only as a hockey player but as a young woman. Playing and coaching have taught me so much more about life than hockey itself.
As of this fall, you will have been involved in essentially all levels of the girls’ and women's game. What do you want people to understand about the sport, that maybe they don't know?
I think it is important for people to know the true passion girls/women possess when they play this unbelievable sport. To see the excitement on the face of a little girl when she steps on the ice isn't all that different than the expression our NWHL players have. Hockey is a fast paced, exciting game and there are some pretty talented girls/women who can play.
How has the NWHL changed the landscape? What do you think it means, for women to know they can play beyond college even if they don't make the Olympic team?
The NWHL has opened the door for more opportunities for women to continue to play the game at a high level. USA Hockey is excited about the league as well because it gives our best female hockey players the chance to continue to develop in the peak of their careers. The league makes our current Olympians better and also pushes our non-Olympians to compete at a high level, which is entertaining to fans.
I know the Colonials came to at least one Riveters game last year -- do you think girls see professional play as a possible goal now, or is it still sort of an anomaly?
Yes, most definitely. Girls now have female role models and strive to play professional hockey like their NWHL idols. Young Colonials have said several times they want to play in college and in the pros. It is awesome to hear little girls say these things, not just little boys.
What are you most looking forward to about the upcoming season?
I'm excited to work with such elite athletes from several different backgrounds. These women are driven through their love of the game and know they have a unique opportunity to play hockey at such a high level. I am also grateful for the opportunity to work with Coach Wiseman and learn from his experiences as a player and coach.
After a rough first season, the Riveters have signed some literally game-changing talent. Has Chad Wiseman said anything to you about his vision for this new lineup?
Coach Wiseman has done a remarkable job this offseason. He is an extremely knowledgable coach and has put together a talented group of players. We have bounced some lineup ideas around but obviously need to get the team on the ice and see who plays well together. I am excited to get things going in the fall.