With the 2022 ISBHF Women’s Worlds representing the fifth fantastic time that Karen Levin has worn the Stars and Stripes, the articulate and highly skilled blueliner represents the heartbeat of Team USA. Possessing a wealth of experience, Levin’s first appearance took place at the 2015 edition of the Worlds.
Fast forward to 2017, resulting in an historic podium finish for the US, the event marked the first of three consecutive tournaments for Levin. Followed by the 2018 Masters in Bermuda, a silver for the US, along with the 2019 Worlds, hosted in Kosice, Slovakia, the objective always remained gold.
In the aftermath of Kosice, an unexpected three year wait halted the World Championships. Competition crippled due to pandemic concerns, Levin and her teammates remained in a difficult holding pattern. Returning to the biggest stage for ball hockey, the magnitude of the 2022 Worlds provided Levin with an exciting milestone. Named team captain, it solidified Levin’s standing as one of the national team’s icons. Considering that wearing the Stars and Stripes encompasses a sense of national pride for each member of the roster, it took on a greater meaning for Levin. Jubilant over the well-deserved honor, her focus remained on respect for game and team alike,
“It was a great honor to be named captain for Team USA. We have a really amazing group of women and to be viewed as a leader for a team full of great people, players, and other leaders is a real honor.”
Equally impactful, the show of support on social media served as testament to Levin’s standing as one of the national team’s icons. Dubbed the GOAT, the flattering tribute results in an admirable humility, her spirit and passion always evident.
“I would not consider myself the GOAT (laughs). I have been just playing my game and contributing as much to the team as I can each tournament, in whatever role is needed at the time.”
Finishing the tournament with five points, on the strength of four assists, Levin finished third in team scoring. Trailing Cherie Stewart and Sarah Hughson, the lone US player named to the Tournament All-star Team, Levin provided her usual consistency, one of the hallmarks of her stellar game.
Although the final result for Levin and her teammates involved a heartbreaking final in the bronze medal match, a visceral 2-0 loss to Slovakia, a solid effort emerged. Pelting goaltender Andrea Pastorkova Risova with 41 shots, she proved to be the deciding factor in a game where the US displayed plenty of heart.
Numbers aside, the primary focus remained sharing in the privilege of playing for the US alongside her teammates. With profound perspective, the evolution of said team in 2022 definitely represented fascination for Levin. With an unprecedented number of players having skated professionally in the PHF, the duality of ice and ball hockey for so many participants in ISBHF play indicates a trend likely to continue.
Reflecting on the experience at the ISBHF Worlds, the undeniable enjoyment of camaraderie emerges as a poignant aspect. Considering that Levin is a model teammate, constantly setting a positive example, her influence is crucial in establishing a solid team culture. Finding value in the minutiae, each moment essential, the foundation starts with the people she plays alongside.
Proud of the milestone of team captaincy, alongside such a group, an intriguing melange of veteran talent, such as Cherie Stewart and Danielle Strohmier, to the PHF stars and rookie competitors. While the experience of serving as team captain in ISBHF play represented a proud milestone for Levin, it actually marked the first of two special occasions wearing the Stars and Stripes in 2022. Also suiting up for the United States in the inaugural women’s ice hockey tournament at the Maccabiah Games, contested at the Pais Arena in Jerusalem, Levin’s legacy in the game continues to expand.
“I enjoy my teammates the most. The opportunity to put on a USA jersey with my teammates and go to battle on the rink is such a privilege. The little moments in the locker room, at dinner, the final seconds of a close game… those are special because of the people I get to experience it with.
I think the highlight for me was seeing the greatness in our players that are new to the international stage, and seeing some of our veterans fight through injuries and take on new, unexpected roles. This showed a lot of character in a year where the outcome was not what we were hoping for. That character leaves me hopeful for the future of Team USA Women’s Ball Hockey.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”