Sabrina Kim ’25, from Los Angeles, is playing in her first season on the women’s hockey team. In this installment of “Seven Questions,” Kim discusses her introduction to ice hockey, her best moments with the team and what she’s excited for in the team’s future.
Owen Park: Growing up, was ice hockey your main sport?
Sabrina Kim: I actually started off figure skating and my brother played ice hockey. My dad always drove us to our practices –– mine would start at six in the morning and my brother’s would start at seven in the evening. The difference in our practice times was challenging for my dad to accommodate since he worked for most of the day. One of us had to make the switch and my brother definitely wasn’t going to start figure skating so I started playing ice hockey when I was seven. It helped that womens’ ice hockey leagues started to become more common around California. Playing on a club team that traveled all over the country gave me a community that helped me grow to love the sport.
OP: Who has been your hockey role model growing up?
SK: Mathew Barzal. Watching him play in the [NHL] All-Star game was amazing; he’s a really great skater with amazing form and speed, and I always wanted to be like him. I became a big fan of the [New York] Islanders during high school.
OP: Why did you decide to play defense?
SK: It wasn’t entirely my choice. My brother plays forward so I started out playing forward as well. When we played together, it wasn’t as fun playing the same position at the same time. I would always play defense against him whenever we practiced so I ended up making the switch. I really like playing defense because you get to take on a mediating role in the game. Defense is really important in transitioning between plays and you get to see everything on the ice as it's happening while getting involved with passing, shooting and a lot else.
OP: Do you have any pre-game rituals?
SK: I like to have an orange-flavored vitamin C drink before every game. It’s been a tradition for as long as I can remember –– it’s a Korean drink that’s supposed to replenish your energy. I also tape my stick and do my own stretches to get physically ready as well. The best part of my pregame rituals have to be the dances I do with one of my teammates to get rid of pregame jitters –– super informal but it’s so much fun! By the time we’re on the ice, we’re focused and ready to play.
OP: What has been your favorite game at Middlebury or high school?
SK: The game against Endicott at home (Jan. 8, 2021). We all knew that it was going to be a tough game and we had to win in order to keep our winning streak. There was a moment towards the end of the third period when we were down 1–0 and we pulled our goalie. The moment we scored, you could feel the tide turning and everyone on the team was brimming with energy. The game went into overtime and we pulled through with a 2–1 win. Looking back on it, the game was a series of hard fought battles that really pushed us to grow and bond as a team.
OP: What would you say is the most satisfying part of playing in a game?
SK: Every part of the game! Just being on the ice is great, but power plays are my favorite part. Having a numbers advantage really makes me feel free when I’m playing, like I can do a lot more and really take control of the game. It always feels like my teammates and I are in sync during power plays. We play off each other really smoothly which makes the game so much more fun and builds a greater sense of trust between us.
OP: What do you enjoy the most about being a part of the women’s ice hockey team?
SK: Being on the team feels like being adopted into another family. Everyone on the team really looks out for you and helps you both on and off the ice. I’ve had really great experiences with players of all ages and always feel like I’m welcomed by the team. The coaches are amazing as well; the guidance that they give on and off the ice has been really important to me.
OP: What are you most excited about for the future of the women’s ice hockey team?
SK: I think there’s a lot to be excited about. We have a really great team and we’re all excited to win games and make a push for the finals. I’m eager to see how my next four years on the team will go, how I’ll grow as a player and how the team will evolve as well. Winning a championship this year would be amazing and would be a great memory to have and to use as motivation for the rest of my hockey career. I’m also really looking forward to meeting new players every year and passing on the traditions and culture of the team to them.