Two-time Krissy Wendell is among the five-member class that will be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame during ceremonies in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.
Wendell led the U.S. women to their first World Championship gold medal in 2005 as the leading scorer and tournament Most Valuable Player. Her career also included two national titles at the University of Minnesota where her efforts leave her ranked among the top 10 scorers in NCAA Division I women’s hockey history.
With her induction less than a week away, Wendell reflected on its meaning in an interview with USA Hockey.
USAHockey: What does it mean to you to be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame?
Krissy Wendell: A lot. It has been a fun time reflecting back. I’ve been very blessed with the opportunities I’ve been given through USA Hockey and youth hockey all the way through college. It has been fun to reach out to teammates and coaches and friends. Really that’s the reason for the award. It’s nothing really about me, but more about the opportunities that I was given in the game.
USAH: When you got the call that you were going to be inducted, do you remember your reaction at that time?
KW: Surprised. For sure. [USA Hockey Executive Director] Pat Kelleher called, left a voicemail and when I called him back, I was pretty surprised. It was a big honor. There’s a lot of really awesome people, players and coaches who have been in it, so any time you’re included in a category with them, it’s a tremendous honor.
USAH: Can you tell us who some of the biggest influences have been in your career?
KW: There are lots of them. For sure, my brother, who was two years older than me and was the biggest reason I got in the game. My dad had played as well. Just for them being in the game and for giving me chances to be part of it when girls weren’t really playing, they let me play and be a part of it. It’s hard to just name one. I’m just going to go with that, because if I start naming, the list will be pretty long. I was blessed and fortunate with the people I was surrounded by.
USAH: Here’s another one where it might be hard to pick just one — what is the most memorable moment from your career?
KW: I don’t have one that just stands out from all the other ones. I think it’s a combination of just being with teammates and road trips, whether it was youth hockey, college, high school, USA, there’s so many to choose from. That’s tough to say. I would say the biggest thing that hockey was able to give me that really stands out, the memory I probably remember the most is walking into the opening ceremonies in Salt Lake City. We weren’t even on the ice, but the opening ceremonies in Salt Lake was kind of a “wow” moment of “this is the Olympics and we’re here.”
USAH: When you look back on it, what did it mean to be able to represent Team USA so many different times on the international stage?
KW: So fortunate. More than anything, I was so fortunate to be able to play with a lot of different teammates and just get to learn from different coaching styles. But any time you wear the USA jersey, that’s an honor, so I don’t think that’s an opportunity that gets old or you ever grow tired of. That’s just a special honor and it’s a privilege to wear it, for sure.
USAH: When you look at the women’s and girls’ game and how it has grown over the years, how does it make you feel? It’s a little different than what you described when you first got into it.
KW: It’s fantastic. What I would love to see is the game continuing to grow. Every time the girls win a gold medal, whether it’s 1998 or hopefully now with 2018 and being able to win again, it’s great for the exposure. Being from Minnesota, it is really growing. To be able to give girls the opportunity to enjoy and to play and make memories in a sport that can give so much has just been awesome. I have three daughters, so it has just been great to see their experience and be able to kind of enjoy it as well. To come from where it was and now to see where it is, it is pretty special.
USAH: When you have a chance to give advice to girls who are getting started in playing or to girls who perhaps have dreams of one day playing in the Olympics, what types of things do you try to tell young girls about the game and pursuing hockey?
KW: Just to have fun. I think sometimes, we get too caught up in trying to get to a certain level or trying to get to the next step and we kind of forget to enjoy where we’re at and the journey along the way. That’s where your memories will stick, your journeys along the way, not necessarily how quickly you can get to the next level. I really encourage girls to have fun, don’t sports specialize, play other sports. And, if you’re having fun, you’re usually getting better and life will take you where it takes you.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.