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Fiona McKenna scores spot on U.S. National Team

Courtesy of Fiona McKenna

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Every week, McKenna goes through her schedule, battling school and sports as she travels with her teams. However, with motivation from both her friends and family, she continues to balance both hockey and soccer as she moves up in her sports to college and national teams.

Over the summer, she was selected for the US Nationals U-18 women’s hockey team. August Fest, held the first two weeks of August, presented an opportunity for the best of the best to play together representing their respective countries.

Playing with brand new teammates was different for McKenna. “But I liked it,” McKenna said. “Everyone was there to give their 100%.”

During August Fest, the U-18 team scrimmaged against the Women’s Olympic Team. “We lost 6-0,” McKenna said. The team also played against Canada three times, resulting in a win, tie, and loss respectively.

McKenna, who began playing soccer when she was three years old with the AYSO, said, “Every young girl usually tries soccer. For some reason, I loved every part of it right from the beginning. So, I joined my first club team called the Hinsdale Hawks. From there, I went to Eclipse and have been there ever since,” McKenna said.

For McKenna, soccer was relayed into her hands; however, hockey was a struggle at the beginning. McKenna said, “When I was in first and second grade, our neighbors who lived across from us were obsessed with hockey and every day would play outside in the street. Their dad, Michael Nylander, was in the NHL and they were all really good. I found a stick and some roller blades and started playing with them.”

When she first saw her neighbors play, she wanted to join a hockey league herself. After three years of begging her mom, she was finally allowed.

McKenna said that her mother thought hockey was a guy’s sport and, therefore, McKenna could get hurt easily. Mrs. McKenna said, “I have always loved soccer. I was just worried about Fi playing hockey because I had never heard of many girls who played, and it seemed like such a rough sport.”

Although, Mrs. McKenna was hesitant at the start, McKenna now plays hockey for the Chicago Mission girls’ U19 team and soccer for Eclipse U17 girls’ team. In the last five years, her hockey team has won five state championships, five regional championships, two bronze medals, and one silver medal at the national championships. In the last four years her soccer team has won three state championships, one regional championship, and one bronze at the national championships.

Along with two highly competitive sports in her hands, McKenna has learned to time manage in order to get work done. McKenna said, “I think that it is easier to balance my homework because with a super busy schedule, I have no time to procrastinate. Right when I get home from school I have to keep working right until I have to leave for practice.”

McKenna also said that with the support from her friends, balancing her three lives has been fairly easy. McKenna said Katherine Treankler, senior, has played for the same soccer club for a long time, and they carpool, making it a lot easier to do homework in the car.

Moreover, Treankler said that they can rely on each other whenever they have problems, since they experience a similar schedule. “Our practices are just set in a very competitive environment. Whether it’s keep-away, one versus ones, or just a shooting drill, everything is always competitive. It is a rigorous schedule, but not anything that you don’t get used to. After doing this for 7 years, it just becomes routine,” said Treankler.

Since McKenna has dedication to both school and sports, Princeton University has scouted her out as a player for their school. “I recently verbally committed to Princeton to play soccer and hockey. I was fortunate that they were interested in me for both hockey and soccer. I have good grades, and they can support me in the admissions process,” McKenna said.

With these new opportunities, McKenna has the motivation to keep excelling in her life of sports. She meets with her teammates from both sports almost every day and works towards one goal: to win the national championship.

McKenna said, “My hockey team came close last year when we lost in the national championship, but that brought us closer together so we can try for it again this year.”

In addition to losing a few games, McKenna sometimes encounters issues about how she is a female playing hockey. She said, “I think some people don’t understand that girls’ hockey isn’t a joke sport. On the east coast, girls’ hockey and lacrosse are the most popular sports. But being from Illinois, I think sometimes it is hard to think of girls playing hockey.”

Even though McKenna experiences a few obstacles, with her parents by her side, she continues to be supported to keep going to receive the win.

Mr. McKenna said, “I tell her how if she told us she wanted to quit everything today, we would support her. She is very self-motivated and we support her every step of the way.”

Moreover, since McKenna is continually engulfed by her rigorous schedule, she cannot dedicate much of her time to a vast social life at school, yet she is okay with it because her teammates are always by her side.

Chase Arima, senior, comments on McKenna’s time outside of sports. “Nowadays, she has a tournament for either hockey or soccer almost every weekend. It’s hard to hold a friendship, but sometimes I’m able to make it to her home games and be supportive of her. Being in many classes with her over the years has also helped us to remain friends,” said Arima.

With barely any time spent at school, McKenna sometimes considers playing for Hinsdale Central. “I would love to play on the boys’ hockey team, but I know that my parents would never let me because they would be scared that I would get hurt. However, in order to play high school soccer, I would have to leave my club team for a while. My club team chooses to skip out of high school season so we can all stay together and become the best that we can be,” said McKenna.

With friends, family, and colleges by her side, McKenna looks towards a future involved with these sports. She said, “There is not much opportunity for girls to play hockey or soccer after college except for the Olympics. So, when I am older, I would love to be a hockey or soccer coach. I also think it would be awesome to be a college scout for one or both of these sports. Soccer and hockey have been such a big part of my life that I don’t think that I could give it up easily.”

Furthermore, her interest for her sports in her future is heightened by Kendall Coyne, who is on the Olympic Women’s Hockey team.

“She is only five foot, one, and she is the fastest skater I have ever seen, out of boys or girls. She played at the same club as me, and I looked up to her as soon as I started playing there. The way she skates and plays inspired me to try and be the best that I could be. To this day, I see her whenever she comes home for break and she still inspires me by what she has accomplished.”

Her next camp will be held this December, and as long as she continues to qualify for her age group’s national team, Fiona may eventually become the role models she idolizes.

“It is unlikely that I will qualify for the 2016 Olympics because women on the team can continue to play into their thirties. But eventually making it to the Olympics is the goal. It’s the final step,” McKenna said.

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Fiona McKenna scores spot on U.S. National Team