Making her debut for the United States at the 2017 ISBHF Worlds in Pardubice, Czech Republic, it was an opportunity for Lindsay Wilde to compose another exciting chapter in her hockey odyssey, fulfilling a goal of donning the stars and stripes. Adding luster to this facet was the fact that she earned a podium finish in her debut for the national team.
Raised in Billerica, Massachusetts, Wilde competed at the defensive position for a determined American roster. Bringing a fundamentally sound game and an unselfish approach, Wilde provided a welcome consistency to a roster that featured a blend of veteran talent and new faces.
Working collectively towards improving on the agonizing fourth place finish attained at the 2015 edition of the Worlds, hosted in Zug, Switzerland, it was a task that Wilde accepted as a proud challenge. The proud privilege of being named to Team USA is one that she never took for granted, acknowledging that she was part of a growing yet important chapter in women’s hockey.
“I was humbled to have been chosen. There are a lot of great women who play the sport of ball hockey, and tryouts were the first time that I had been in the same arena as so many of them. I have a lot of respect for everyone who tried out, so I was honored to be seen as strong enough to compete at the international level.”
After making her debut for the US against Team Italia, which required a shootout to determine the winner, it marked the beginning of a proud passage in Wilde’s hockey journey. Reflecting on that inaugural game, it provided Wilde with a sense of patriotic and athletic achievement that only grew stronger with each contest.
“It was incredibly emotional, and I felt very lucky. This was my first time representing my country, and it was even that much more special to hear our anthem at the end of the game given how close of a game that it was. Team Italy came out on fire and gave us great competition.
My team never gave up and came away with the victory, and that was my first true realization of how big the tournament was and how special it was to be a part of the team. My appreciation for it only continued to grow as we continued to battle our way to the final game.”
Akin to so many other astounding ball hockey competitors that have donned their respective nation’s jersey, adding a new chapter to elite women’s hockey competition, Wilde’s gravitation to the sport represented an extension of on-ice experiences.
Of note, her competitive background involved a remarkable run during her teens at the renowned Cushing Academy. Balancing her status as an elite hockey competitor with sterling play in field hockey, Wilde’s strong instincts and acumen for hockey in all its facets resulted in a sparkling run as a three-sport star, also including proficiency as a softball player. Said run involved a pair of New England championship runner-up teams in 2003 and 2004.
Gracing the ice at the Ivy League level with the prominent Brown Bears, where she earned a B.A. in Commerce, some of her teammates included Amanda Asay, who would play for Canada in the inaugural women’s baseball tournament at the 2015 Pan American Games, capturing silver, along with Hayley Moore, an inaugural member of the Boston Blades. As a side note, Moore enters this season with her own proud sense of history, ascending to the position of Deputy Commissioner with the NWHL.
Enjoying the opportunity to play for legendary coach Digit Murphy, the first female coach to win 300 games at the NCAA level, it was an opportunity for Wilde to raise the quality of her game. As Wilde recounts, Murphy was among a number of coaching influences that instilled in her the values of hard work and leadership, a pair of qualities that were certainly evident in Pardubice.
Prior to Pardubice, Wilde’s love of sport played a prominent role in the other cities that she would call home. With the love of hockey still running in her blood, it would prove to be an essential buffer in the transition to living in cities such as Chicago and Boston.
Although there was also an integral social element that involved competition in ball hockey, it also provided Wilde with an empowering personal journey. As the youthful looking Wilde is in her thirties, making her international ball hockey debut at a time when other sports would view that time of life as an athlete being in their twilight, the character and heart displayed clearly establish her as an admirable role model.
“Every coach that I have had along the way has lead me to where I am today and where I was when I made the team. I have learned a lot from my past experiences. Transitioning to ball hockey was harder than I expected.
I started playing in Chicago when I first moved there in order to make friends, so the original purpose of why I started made the transition a little easier, because it was solely for fun and social purposes. I had already been playing for a couple of years before I moved to Boston and joined teams here.
Boston is highly skilled and more competitive than Chicago, so playing in Boston turned the sport from a social hobby into a passion. I have surprised myself that, at age 30, I can continue to improve in a sport that I have played for so long. I always assumed that, at some point long ago, I had peaked. I have learned that isn’t the case, and hard work continues to pay off, no matter how old you are.”
Logging her only point of the tournament, registering an assist on a goal scored by Becky Dobson, it resulted in a treasured milestone for Wilde, assisting on the biggest goal in the history of the national team. With Dobson’s goal the game-winner in a 3-2 final against Canada, Wilde combined with Tiffany Pfundt on the assist, etching her name in program history. The stay-at-home blueliner was among the roster’s unsung heroes, bringing a team-first approach that improved her team’s chances at winning.
Qualifying for the gold medal game with an epic victory against the two-time defending champion Canadian contingent, the chance to play for the gold medal game was an unprecedented first. Pushing the host country Czech Republic to overtime, it was a valiant performance that firmly entrenched the US in the role of ball hockey powerhouse.
No longer burdened by the weight of their antecedents, the future can now emerge as a fantastic focus towards greater stature for the US. As one tournament can shape, or at least influence, a career, such was the outcome for a very grateful Wilde.
To be part of Team USA’s first-ever podium finish at the ISBHF Worlds, especially in her debut with the national team represents a pinnacle that Wilde shall cherish for many years to come.
“It was very special and bittersweet. It is a huge accomplishment to not only come away with a medal, but the silver medal. Taking the Czech Republic to overtime was a huge testament to our incredible coaches and the drive of our team.
We continued to battle back, and we were so close to taking gold. It’s always challenging to, at first, appreciate silver when you were so close to gold, but having time to reflect on it, it’s something to be so proud of. I was already so grateful to be a part of this team, and to have the first-ever podium finish to go along with it just makes it that much better.
We had a team who truly respected and sacrificed for each other. We had incredibly insightful, intelligent coaching. I will never forget this experience.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credits: Daniel Soucek, Headshot by ASHI