Archive for Thursday, August 9, 2007

Wristen: Fardelmann a pioneer for hockey in K.C.

August 9, 2007

Take a moment and think back to when you were 14 years old.

You're a standout athlete in your class, a good student and a member of numerous successful sports teams.

Your friends are all here. Your family is, too.

Could you, as a 14-year-old, make the decision to leave it all behind and chase your dream?

That was Meghan Fardelmann's predicament six years ago.

Most people likely would've chosen to stay home, but Fardelmann's ambition got the best of her. She took a chance - a leap of faith, really - and trusted her instincts. She headed off to a prep school 10 hours away in Indiana and made a name for herself as a standout ice hockey player.

Now, the 20-year-old is on the verge of becoming one of the most successful athletes the city has ever produced. She reports Tuesday to Lake Placid, N.Y., for the USA Hockey Women's National Festival. While there she will participate in tryouts for the U.S. Women's Hockey Under-22 Select Team. She is one of 27 players competing for 22 spots on the team. If she makes the cut, then she will don a USA jersey and compete in a three-game series against Canada.

Sound impressive? Don't forget to take into account that Kansas isn't exactly the premier breeding ground for ice hockey talent. Of all the players invited to attend the festival, she is the only one from Kansas. Most players hail from hockey hotbeds like Minnesota, Wisconsin and Massachusetts. If she wanted to be successful at hockey, she really had no choice but to leave.

Training outlets are expanding in Kansas City, but they still are extremely limited. The nearest rink to Lansing is Ice Sports on Johnson Drive, a 20-minute shot down Kansas Highway 7 in Shawnee. That's where Fardelmann trains when she's back in town, but ice time is limited.

For additional perspective, Fardelmann shared a comment Boston College teammate Allie Thunstrom made last week while visiting.

"She started laughing when she saw a cornfield near my house," Fardelmann said with a laugh. "Her rink's about five minutes away (from her house), and they all had their own high school teams growing up."

It's fun to ponder the impact Fardelmann might have had on Lansing High athletics had she gone to high school in town. After all, she was a standout soccer player at Culver Girls Academy, and she also played competitive fastpitch softball in the summer. In all likelihood, however, any success there would've come at the expense of her hockey career. That would have been a shame.

Fardelmann notes that she isn't the only local female hockey player to go elsewhere to play.

"I feel like I talked quite a few people into going away to high school," she said. "But I think they appreciate it."

Six years after Fardelmann moved away to chase her dream, women's hockey is beginning to grow in Kansas City. Fardelmann is one of the sport's local pioneers, and she deserves credit for that. Hers is one of the biggest local names in the sport.

If she earns a spot on the Under-22 Select Team, she will be one step away from landing on the United States National Team that plays at the Olympics and the World Championships.

Fardelmann never would've made it this far in hockey if she didn't have the courage to set off on her own six years ago. Thanks to her efforts, and the efforts of other locals who took a risk and embraced ice hockey, other Kansas City youths might not have to leave home to pursue a career on the rink.

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