Of all the exceptional women that called the Minnesota Whitecaps their home team for the 2015-16 campaign, Sarah Moe was definitely one of a kind. As the only member of the roster whose playing experience included time with a pair of clubs based north of the border in Canada, Moe brought a unique perspective to the game, complemented by the leadership that developed with such experience.
Among the elements that made Moe a welcome member of the Whitecaps roster, including a fundamentally sound game which is highlighted by a team-first approach, another exceptional aspect is the fact that she is also a mom. Chelsey and Winny Brodt, two of the longest serving members of the Whitecaps are also moms. Compared to when Moe played in the Greater Toronto Area, where she was the only mom on the roster, the chance to be surrounded by other moms with the Whitecaps adds a unique element to her playing career. As a side note, Jenny Schmidgall Potter, a member of the 2010 Clarkson Cup championship team was a mom during that landmark moment in franchise history.
“For me, there’s a very different dynamic with the Whitecaps than there has been with any other team I have played on because of how many players have kids. When I played with Brampton, a couple of my teammates had infants, but they were not around because they were so little. So, my kids were viewed as an anomaly and received a lot of attention.
With the Whitecaps, there are something like six of us who have kids. There are kids around all the time…in the locker room, at the rink, everywhere. I have four myself, three of which play hockey. Unfortunately, my kids weren’t able to make it to many games this year because of their own hockey schedules, but I would say it’s nice to have the family atmosphere feel “normal” here.”
Along with the other moms on the Whitecaps, Moe shares a unique common ground while shattering stereotypes or perceptions about moms being athletes. Although fans could be excused if the fact that some athletes are moms does not immediately come to mind, such athletes are proving that family and sport can make for a perfect balance, while adding an exciting new meaning to the term ‘role model’.
“I think because it is such a normal thing, we moms do not talk about it much. Being a mom permeates into everything I do, so I wouldn’t mind talking about it, but it seems like when we get to the rink everyone goes into hockey mode, which is fine with me.
What I love about being a mom and playing with the Whitecaps is that it is not out of the ordinary. People here understand that you don’t have to stop playing hockey once you have kids, and that’s a message that I have been trying to get across to a lot of people in my life for awhile.”
Adding to the excitement of playing for the longest running professional women’s team in the United States is the fact that it allows Moe a chance to be closer to home. Following an amazing career at St. Peter, Minnesota’s Gustavus Adolphus College, transforming the program into the class of the MIAC, Moe would establish roots in the community, raising her family.
During her time with the Gusties, she accumulated hockey hardware with a pair of All-America honors, four First-Team MIAC Awards and the NCAA Division III women’s hockey player of the Year Award (now named the Laura Hurd Award) in her senior season. Graduating as the leading scorer in NCAA Division III women’s hockey history with 181 points, it was a mark that would last until 2004-05 when Laura Hurd would eclipse her total. Coincidentally, that season marked Moe’s first as a head coach, taking the reins at St. Olaf with a respectable 15-9-1 mark.
Even in Moe’s professional career, her legacy with the Gusties would continue to hold impact. During her playing time with the Manitoba Maple Leafs, a highly meaningful and emotional contest took place for Moe. Coincidentally, said contest would take place against the Whitecaps at Don Roberts Ice Rink, the first professional women’s hockey game hosted there. It was the rink that Moe called her second home during her record breaking years at Gustavus Adolphus. Getting the chance to don the Whitecaps jersey and continue her playing career has resulted in a second family, adding an enjoyable element to her career,
“It means that I get to play from home. Prior to playing with the Whitecaps, I played for two seasons with Brampton of the CWHL. That was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, but I had to live in Toronto for about five months each season. Every week or so, either I hopped on a red-eye to go home for a few days, or my husband and kids packed up and came to see me. The sheer quantity of travel was insane and completely exhausting; however, the experience for me and my kids was priceless.
I got pregnant with our fourth child at the very end of my second season with Brampton. At that point, I thought I would either hang ’em up or go back after the baby was old enough to handle the travel. However, then I found out mid-summer that this opportunity with the Whitecaps was going to exist. While my body still was not quite recovered from the baby, I could not pass on it, and I’m glad I didn’t. Playing with the Whitecaps gave me the opportunity to get back to playing the game I love at about the highest level that exists in women’s hockey. I got to play with great players, be coached, and compete again.”
While Moe endured the obligatory adjustment that comes with making the jump to professional hockey, especially with regards to the lightning-fast speed and intense physical play, there was also the chance to grow. Although Moe has significant coaching experience and has also assumed the role of referee from time to time, expanding her vision of the game and bringing a unique perspective to it, one of the other aspects of a higher level of hockey resulted in being surrounded by players that boasted Winter Games experience. It would prove to be a defining moment for Moe, proving that she had the maturity
“Playing with talented players always makes the playing experience more fun, whether they’re Olympians or not. When I was in Brampton, I had the chance to play with a number of Olympians, two of which were Jayna Hefford and Gillian Apps. When I first got there I was extremely intimidated, but these two in particular, while extremely talented, and were also exceptionally kind to me. That gave me the chance to get to know them, so that intimidation factor dissipated pretty quickly, and I realized how human and normal these people were.
Ever since those first weeks in the CWHL, I do not get intimidated or even awed by big names anymore. If you are going to play at this level, you are going to play with them and you are going to play against them. So if you cannot see them as just another player, then you’re going to have some issues competing and truly meshing with your team.”
Tapping into her proud roots in the State of Hockey, skating for the Whitecaps brings Moe’s career full circle. Although Moe approaches the twilight in such a great career, it is a proud benchmark to be able to grace the ice at a very high level and do so for the love of the game. Taking into account the great environment of the Whitecaps, being surrounded with so many other players who enjoy competing at a high level, Moe has found herself in a perfect situation. Although her favorite experience as a member of the Whitecaps may surprise, it truly puts into perspective the meaning of enjoyment as a member of the squad,
“Practicing. I know that sounds weird, but when you get past college, the opportunity to practice is anywhere from limited to nonexistent. You play men’s league, WHAM, drop-in hockey, but none of these offer opportunities to really practice. With the Whitecaps, I loved our practices. I loved the flow, the hard passing, the speed. Getting to practice and with a team like that, at my age, is priceless.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Image obtained from Facebook