From Rink to Runway

Brewster, N.Y. Teen Puts Promising Modeling Career On Hold To Compete At Nationals

It’s difficult to imagine a more unlikely pairing than hockey and high fashion. In fact, the differences are seemingly endless. But, as anyone with a discerning eye will tell you, these two worlds aren’t as far apart as they may seem.

In both endeavors, it takes hard work and practice to achieve brief bursts of glory. In the blink of an eye, the spotlight shines, and just as quickly it fades to black.

Brianna Pedatella was in the midst of a New York state title chase with her Brewster Lady Bulldogs when the doors of the fashion world suddenly opened.

For years, friends and teammates joked that Pedatella, who stands a statuesque 6-foot-0, should be a model. Her father, Lou, who coaches the Lady Bulldogs, had even been stopped by a total stranger several months earlier to ask if shealready was.

It wasn’t until her father noticed a casting call for Couture Fashion Week in Manhattan during a rare lull in the 16-year-old’s otherwise hectic schedule that the window of opportunity opened. Always up for a new challenge, Pedatella said, “Sign me up.”

Brianna’s parents, Mary and Louis, have been supportive of their daughter whether she's pursuing her dreams on the ice rink or the runway.Brianna’s parents, Mary and Louis, have been supportive of their daughter whether she's pursuing her dreams on the ice rink or the runway.

After a 30-minute drive from the Brewster Ice Arena to Times Square, they arrived at Pedatella’s first casting call, where her budding fashion career seemed to be over before it could even begin.

“The first designer I met looked at me and said, ‘I don’t like you,’” Pedatella recounted. “I was so nervous. All of the other girls looked like they had done it all before. I had no experience so I was just trying to have fun.”

Pedatella wound up booking four shows with four different designers, while many of the other girls, most of them older and more seasoned, weren’t selected for a single job. Such is the cutthroat nature of modeling, where a rookie can become an instant commodity. Even that initial designer eventually changed her opinion, but by that point, Pedatella was fully booked.

“I was really shocked,” she admitted. “I didn’t think it was going to happen that quickly.”

Her first fitting was followed immediately by practice with the Bulldogs. Two days later, Pedatella made her modeling debut.

Much like any rookie, Pedatella was a raw talent in need of refinement, which she found in the tutelage of Romanian designer Catalin Botezatu. Just as her father patiently taught her the ins and outs of hockey, Botezatu walked Pedatella through everything she needed to know to be successful on the runway.

“You haven’t done this before, have you?” Botezatu asked after seeing Pedatella tentatively navigate the catwalk.

“You’re not supposed to look down at all when you’re walking on the runway, and I guess I looked down,” Pedatella said.

When show time arrived, she not only didn’t look down, she never looked back.

“The first night I walked on the runway and I was in shock; it was such a different experience than hockey,” the Brewster native said. “[With hockey] you take shifts and there are no cameras. [Modeling] is all you, and it was crazy. But throughout the weekend, I just walked on the runway and it got easier with each show.”

Two more shows on Saturday and another on Sunday night sandwiched another convincing victory for the Bulldogs. Within weeks, Pedatella was offered her first professional contract by Red Model Management.

Her new employer was flexible, allowing Pedatella to put modeling on hold as she focused on her immediate responsibilities on the ice. “Hockey’s first,” she insisted.

With her modeling debut behind her, the Lady Bulldogs rode a dominant five-game winning streak to the New York State Championship as the offense piled up 23 goals while Pedatella and her defensive corps conceded just four.

“She looks like [Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno] Chara,” her father said. “It’s amazing watching her stay between the dots and put her stick out. You say, ‘Nobody’s going to get around her.’”

Winning the state championship was a dream realized for Pedatella, who has been playing hockey for over half her life.

“Every year, the goal is to win State and go to Nationals,” she said. “But I also wanted to have the new experience [with modeling]. Everything fell into place.”

The victory punched the Lady Bulldogs’ ticket to the Toyota-USA Hockey Girls Tier II 16 & Under National Championship tournament in Burlington, Vt., where they played three games. And although they came up short, simply competing against the best in the country was an accomplishment worth talking about.

With her hockey season behind her, Pedatella’s focus returned to the runway. Her dream is to become a Victoria’s Secret Angel, modeling’s equivalent to seeing your name engraved on the Stanley Cup.

And while her new vocation will provide new opportunities and even more clothing options, it's a safe bet that a hockey jersey will always be part of her wardrobe.

Alastair Ingram is a freelance writer from South Burlington, Vt.


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