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With Hard Work, Comes Reward

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

Compiled by Kylie Penticost

Landing a spot on the first NCAA Women’s Division I Ice Hockey at Penn State is a big deal. An opportunity like this does not come easily. Jill Holdcroft knows that with hard work, dedication and a strong support system, the dreams that she sets out for herself are achievable.

Kylie Penticost: Tell me a little bit about yourself. (i.e.: family, hobbies outside of hockey, travel, etc.)

Jill Holdcroft: I was born and raised in State College, PA. I am 18-years-old and a senior at State College Area High School. I have two older brothers and a younger sister. I like playing soccer, volleyball, badminton, and biking.

KP: What are you taking in post-secondary school next year? In addition, what do you hope to do with it once you are finished?

JH: I’ll be attending Penn State next year and playing on their first NCAA Women’s Division I Ice Hockey team. I am thrilled to be part of a starting program, which is right in my hometown. My plan is to get my degree in Accounting and explore the accounting career field after college.

KP: Why did you choose to get into hockey, and how long have you played?

JH: I have been playing hockey for 10 years. My dad played hockey at Penn State when he was in college and he was able to get my two older brothers interested as well. After watching them play for a while, I finally got the opportunity to try the sport when I was 8 years old. I loved it! I already knew how to skate because I took skating lessons and I practiced on the outdoor rink that my dad sets up every winter in our yard. I started out playing boys hockey and was the only girl on almost all of the teams I have played on. When I was 13-years-old, I made the switch and started playing on girls teams.

KP: What position do you play? In addition, why that particular position?

JH: I play forward, either center or wing, because I like forechecking and working the puck in the offensive zone. I like being a playmaker and setting my team up for good scoring opportunities. I also like being first to put pressure on the other team, knowing that I have teammates to back me up. I have recently been playing wing but I really enjoy taking face-offs and I am more than willing to step up when my coach needs me at center.

KP: What has been one of your most memorable hockey moments?

JH: My Pittsburgh Pens Elite girls’ team upset one of the top teams in the country for the league title in 2009. I scored the only goal in the game but the win was a complete team effort. The game was exciting with many close chances for both teams. Everyone on my team played extremely well and gave their best effort so the title was well deserved.

KP: Who has been your biggest supporter during your hockey career? How have they shown support?

JH: My whole family has been a big support - parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins - but I would say my Dad has been my biggest supporter. He has encouraged me to try out for teams; he has been the coach for most of the teams I played on; and he has always been there to offer hockey advice. He has taught me to work hard, to be disciplined and respectful. He has made countless amounts of sacrifices for my hockey and for that, I am grateful.

KP: As a female hockey player, what are some of the pressures or limitations you face with the sport?

JH: Women’s ice hockey is rapidly growing which is very exciting, however there are still fewer female players in hockey compared to other sports such as soccer and basketball. It can be tough being involved in a sport with a limited number of girls to relate too. I have been on many teams, with all boys, and there is definitely that pressure to play well and hold your own. A way I handle the pressure, I remind myself everyone on the team makes mistakes. All I can do is work hard and play my best.

KP: What piece of advice would you give to girls who are just starting out in hockey?

JH: Work hard and be the best that you can be. Fun should be the number one reason you play but hard work could take you a long way. Work hard in practice, during the game, and off the ice. Work hard at being a good teammate and a respectable opponent. Whether you plan on continuing hockey past high school or not, always give your best effort in every aspect of the game. There are few things better than being satisfied after a game, whether a win or a loss, because you played your very best.

KP: What is a hockey dream of yours, and why?

JH: My dream for the longest time was to play Division I hockey. Being able to fulfill that dream at Penn State in my hometown is more than I could ask for. It is going to be a great experience and a lot of hard work to be part of a new program. On the other hand, I hope to lead Penn State to their first CHA (College Hockey America) and maybe even to an NCAA championship before I graduate!

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