LIMERICK teenage sports star Roisin Upton has won the top prize in American collegiate hockey.
The 19-year old former Catholic Institute player was a key member of the University of Connecticut side that won last week’s NCAA title.
“I’ve never experienced this type of hockey before. I’ve played in many exciting knockout tournaments that last a week or two. I’ve done my fair share of travelling with hockey at underage level travelling to Australia, the Youth Olympics in Singapore and all around Europe. I’ve played with some great players back home with Crescent, Catholic Institute, Munster and Ireland. But they put such a huge emphasis on sport over here,” she explained to www.southernfriedhockey.com
“We play 25 games in less than three months, which is a gruelling schedule when you take into account we are full-time students as well. It’s tough but it’s worth it. I’m playing with American, English and German internationals, I’m playing against Olympians and internationals from all over the world, with even more internationals making the move every year.”
She added: “This is only college hockey but it’s treated so professionally. There is nothing left to chance – we train five days a week, we have two physios specifically for our team, we play at least two games per week, we take contrast tubs and ice baths every week, every college has a waterbase pitch, and we have video sessions every week.”
Upton is one of around 20 Irish girls plying their trade in the USA collegiate system.
“It was initially difficult being so far away from home and not having my family and friends on the sideline for every game, especially my parents who are my number one supporters. But the Americans and their parents treat you as one of their own, it’s one big family.”