Athlete's perspective

Arizona State hockey player recalls impact COVID-19 had on lost season

Posted 12/6/21

Most prospective athletes head straight to college after high school graduation to continue their athletic career, but for Shaelyn Cecchini, her journey took a slight detour.

Cecchini, a freshman …

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Athlete's perspective

Arizona State hockey player recalls impact COVID-19 had on lost season

Posted

Most prospective athletes head straight to college after high school graduation to continue their athletic career, but for Shaelyn Cecchini, her journey took a slight detour.

Cecchini, a freshman psychology major from British Columbia, Canada, started playing hockey when she was six years old and now plays as a right wing for the Arizona State Women’s hockey team.

She said she always went back and forth about playing university hockey, however, during her junior year of high school, one of her teammates told her that ASU was hosting a prospect camp and convinced her to go.

“I loved the school...and the coaches,” Cecchini said. “ASU is such a diverse school and I kind of wanted to experience that and meet different kinds of people.”

She added that a couple of months after the prospect camp, her current head coach asked her to come for a weekend to watch the ASU team play and practice with them. From there, she committed the school, and planned on starting her college athletic career in the fall of 2020.

However, two weeks before Cecchini was supposed to move to Arizona, she got news that ASU’s hockey season was going to be canceled due to COVID-19.

“I just decided to take a year off of school because nothing was happening hockey wise,” she said. “So I stayed back home. It was so last minute.”

Cecchini said she went to the gym and worked during her gap year, but she struggled not being with her team and finding open ice to practice on.

“I just tried to make the best of it,” she said. “It definitely was really hard not being there even though my team wasn’t there. It sucked because it was not the plan.”

Fortunately for Cecchini, she was able to keep her spot on the team — smoothly transitioning into the fall 2021 season, which has been up and running in full motion.

The team has traveled to Colorado, Virginia, and Missouri so far this season and was recently ranked 10th in the country for the first time in ASU women’s hockey history.

She said, however, that sometimes the rigorous routine of balancing classes and practice conflict can become overwhelming, but as soon as she gets on the ice or with her team again, all those negative thoughts go away and she resets back to where she was before.

“I’ve seen a lot of people that I played with who didn’t get the opportunity or maybe had an injury where they had to quit,” she said. “So just looking at that and being thankful that I got to go through with my goal and get to play in a really cool place keeps me going.”

She said that although she loves the game, she plans to eventually hang up the cleats after she graduates and pursue a career as a sports psychologist.

“I think the mental side of the game is just as important as the physical,” she said. “I think you can work yourself so hard physically, but if mentally you’re not there, I feel like you’re not going to be able to go as far as you wanted to or push yourself as far as you could.”

Cecchini added that she is going to take these next four years all in since university hockey is where she will be ending her long-time passion for the game.

“I really want to just end on a good note, be the best player I could’ve been, and make sure I put everything into it,” she said.

Editor’s Note: Noelle Blumel is a student reporter at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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