Ronda is an established hockey player and coach. In college, she won a National Championship at the University of Minnesota. Currently, she’s the Minnesota Whitecaps Co-Head Coach, and in 2019 she helped drive the team to win the Isobel Cup Championship. Growing up, Ronda began playing hockey on boys teams, but she’s excited about the expansion of the sport for future female players.
“I had two other brothers that played, so I was essentially on skates when I could walk. I started pretty much on the ponds and then street hockey as well, but started playing mites when I was four-years-old. I played on my two brothers’ teams and that’s where I fell in love with the game… almost immediately. That’s why I kept playing and just loved it so much.”
“I always wanted to win. I was so competitive, so winning a national championship at the University of Minnesota was exciting. The Isobel Cup was exciting. What I loved the most about that was being able to sit back and watch some of these women who have never won anything, or those who played at some college that didn’t win a national championship, have this opportunity and how excited they were in the locker room. It was unbelievable just to sit there and watch them celebrate. I love that and having those moments to see just pure joy and what sports can bring and that competitiveness come out.”
“Growing up I was always the only girl and my teammates were great. They were protective um I think some girls didn’t have great experiences, but my teammates always respected me, always treated me well and were more encouraging.
“Everybody should have those opportunities to play, and I think also just realizing how fortunate we are to be able to play. To be healthy enough to play, to have those opportunities. I think there’s a little bit of that as well. I love sports so much because it can teach girls so much about leadership, working with a team, all these skills that can help them be successful in life because sports only last for so long, and these are great platforms for girls and women to learn these different skills that are going to help them. So let’s celebrate it, let’s celebrate our opportunities. I think making awareness (is important) too so it (women’s sports) can continue to grow because there’s still room for it to grow.”
“Remember your why: why you play. I think that helps if you always kind of go back to that because if you’re not having fun then it’s hard to keep pushing through those, but find your supports. Know who they are. Name them, and if you’re ever having a really hard time go to those supports and don’t be afraid.”
“It was a challenge when you played other teams because it’s something about having a ponytail come out of the helmet – it was just shocking, or I don’t know. You always heard ‘hit her, hit her,’ or you know I was told so many times ‘girls can’t play hockey.’ I don’t want to say you get used to it, but you just have to remember why you play and you love the game.”
“From my experience, when there were no girls playing, and now… I don’t know what the numbers are in Minnesota with youth hockey, but I know they’ve grown so much. There’s girls teams in almost every single community, which is amazing. Then having high school programs, which is great, but you also have collegiate programs, which is fantastic. So now you have something to achieve after high school if it’s division one… (or) if it’s division three.
There’s the Olympics… girls can now strive towards. We have the NWHL professional league for women to strive toward, so there’s just different role models or goals that young girls can play or achieve, kind of strive for, which is nice and is something I didn’t have. I just played because I loved it.”