My name is Josephine Pucci and I am currently a sophomore at Harvard University. This is my second season playing for the Crimson and it has been a tremendous growing experience so far. I will mostly be blogging about my experience playing for Harvard but for today I will tell you a little bit about myself and the road hockey has taken me on so far.
I first took the ice as a figure skater at five years old and quickly made the transition to ice hockey when I received my first helmet and stick for Christmas. After playing a couple of years of house league, I played tier 1 travel boys hockey from mites to bantams where I learned to play at a physical and fast pace. As I got older, the boys continued to get bigger and stronger. When I was in 8th grade, second year bantam, a huge guy was right on my tail as I was skating the puck through the neutral zone. Once I got over the red line, I immediately dumped the puck into the zone and braced myself for the routine hit I often got throughout the boys games. Unfortunately, this time my fall was not very “graceful” and my skate caught an edge. I ended up breaking my tibia and was out for four months.
My family and I had been seeking out girls programs for high school before this incident since we knew that the boys would continue to get bigger. If I had to do it again, I would, without a doubt, play with the boys until the time I did, however, for me, high school was the time to make the transition to the girls’ game. Since there is limited opportunity to play at a high level of girls’ hockey where I live (Pearl River, NY. About 30 miles north of NYC), we looked to New England.
After doing a lot of research and school visits, attending a New England prep school seemed like a tremendous opportunity. Athletically, I would have the chance to play in a competitive league of girl’s hockey while getting on the ice for practices and/or games six times a week. I could also play soccer in the fall and softball in the spring which are two sports that have also been a big part of my life. Academically, I would be challenged by a school with a top academic reputation. So, after traveling to several schools to have admission interviews, studying for and taking standardized tests, and filling out long applications, the admissions process finally came to a close and during the spring of 8th grade, I decided to attend a prep school located in Wallingford, Connecticut called Choate Rosemary Hall.
At age 14, I moved into my freshman dorm room and watched my parents and younger sisters wave out the car window as they drove away for the ninety mile ride home without me. Without having any family members or friends from home who went away to boarding school before me, I felt as though I was thrown right into the deep end and I questioned whether or not living away from home really was the best decision for me. However, this uncertainty was quickly overcome as I began to experience some of the unique and great things Choate had to offer—dorm life, caring faculty, tight athletic teams, incredible choices for classes, school spirit, the list goes on. I grew to love the school as I continued to grow as a person, student, and athlete in the enriching environment during my adolescent years. I had the opportunity to explore new paths and participant competitively in the activities that I enjoyed. I developed strong friendships with classmates and faculty, I learned how to manage my time, and learned what it took to be a leader and a well-rounded individual. I am so thankful for all of the obstacles I was presented with and for the school’s support and guidance when needed along the way because they prepared me for the challenges that I now experience during my college years at Harvard.
For me, the college process was pretty long, but well worth the wait. I did not want my reason for attending Harvard to be because it was the prestigious “Hahvahd” University. However, after getting to know the coaches and meeting the team on my official visit, I began realizing what the hockey program stood for and it was everything I wanted in a college program.
I had high expectations coming into Harvard as a freshman and so far the school and hockey program have exceeded them all. Last year, moments before my first college game, I remember sitting with my gear on in the Harvard Hockey locker room holding my Harvard jersey firmly in my hands. I stood up and pulled the jersey that had “Pucci” on the back over my shoulder pads and sat back down next to my new teammates. Not only was that moment of putting on the Harvard jersey a result of years of hard work, but also a beginning of a four year journey full of opportunity, friendship, and challenge. Last year, my freshman class and I quickly realized what it took and what it meant to be a part of the Harvard Hockey family because of our coaches’ high expectations and because of the tremendous leadership from our upperclassman.
Now, during this ’10-’11 season, our team moves forward with the same ’team first’ mentality as we look to improve each and every time we step on the ice. We are a young team—fifteen of our twenty-two players are either freshman or sophomores. However, our youth has faced some of the top teams in the country. In our last seven games, six of the teams we played were ranked in the top ten in the country. When we return back to campus after break, our team will look to use this experience and continue to build on it when we face many of our ECAC rivals.
With final exams behind us, members of the team are home with their families for the holiday. Classes do not start up again until the end of January but our team gathers back on campus for the next chapter of our season with a practice on December 28th followed by a few days of double ice sessions. With the extra time on our hands during J-term (the month of January when there are no classes), our team spends a lot of time together doing team bonding activities such as Secret Santa and Secret Satan, exploring Cambridge and Boston, and taking part in some community service. I am excited to tell you all how it goes next time!
I will be leaving home on December 26th with a couple of my other Harvard teammates, Lindsey Fry and Marissa Gedman, to head to Blaine, Minnesota for the Winter Training Camp with USA hockey. I learned a lot from having the opportunity to play with the U22 team over the summer in Toronto, Canada and from competing in the Four Nations Cup in St. John’s, Newfoundland last November. Being a part of the championship game in the Four Nations Cup against Canada in Canada was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. I was able to play the game I love in front of a few thousand fans, against and with some of the best players in the world. At the upcoming camp, I am really looking forward to play at that high level again, meet some new people, and improve my game in any ways I can.
I hope everyone has an amazing Holiday and I am excited to share more with you about our season at Harvard next time!!