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Loyola's Stauffer Steps Up

by Staff Writer / Chicago Blackhawks

There's nothing like a state championship to pique a potential athlete's attention. After watching the Loyola Academy girls' hockey team capture the Blackhawk Cup during her freshman year, Caitlin Stauffer wanted to give hockey a shot.

"I didn't really have any experience, but I decided to try it," she says.

Caitlin was also attracted to hockey because it seemed to be more team oriented than other sports she had played, like basketball and volleyball. As a sophomore, Caitlin was a producing forward. At the end of the season, the team lost its goalie to graduation. Caitlin decided to step up and give playing in net a try.

"I wasn't really that great of a skater anyway," she explains.

For tryouts, Caitlin borrowed a teammate's little brother's goalie pads and wore her regular skates. The transition to goalie was made easier by her experience with softball, which developed her hand-eye coordination.

"Last season when we didn't have a goalie, she was the one who stepped up and made the sacrifice," Loyola head coach Annie Camins says. "She worked 200 percent harder than anyone on the ice in games and practices."

At first playing goal was a difficult adjustment, but Caitlin credits her teammates for giving her the confidence to stick with it. "They would help me so much," she says. "I never got discouraged."

Now a senior, Caitlin's save percentage is 91 percent after facing 106 shots in thirteen games this season. She plans on furthering her hockey career by playing in college at either St. Mary's in Minnesota or Wynona.

Camins feels that Caitlin's drive to succeed is what attributes to her success as a goalie.

"She is one of the most determined individuals I have ever met," Camins says.

She also credits Caitlin with motivating the team to step up and work just as hard as she was.

"She is always positive to others and always has a smile on her face," Camins adds.

Caitlin loves hockey because it is a sport where girls aren't really recognized. Besides playing with her best friends, Caitlin loves playing hockey for the Ramblers because of the recognition. She laughs when she explains that the P.A. announcements at school make her feel special.

This season the Ramblers set out to get recognized on the state level. According to Caitlin, the team set a lot of little goals which helped build into one larger goal. "We wanted to make it to State," Caitlin explains.

The Ramblers fell to Warren in the quarterfinals of this year's Blackhawk Cup by a score of 2-1. Despite falling short of their ultimate goal, Loyola was able to gain the recognition they were hoping for as a Sun-Times favorite. The team hopes to continue their positive play next season.

Even after the hard loss, Caitlin recognizes the impressive things her teammates were able to accomplish this season.

"It's turned out to be a pretty good decision," Caitlin says of her choice to play hockey. As her coach suggests, who would have thought that the girl who couldn't skate very well would end up playing NCAA Division III hockey?

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