Take Five With Emily West

USA Hockey is proud to welcome Emily West as the new ADM manager for female hockey.

Emily grew up in Colorado Springs, Colo., and played youth and high school hockey in Colorado before playing at the University of Minnesota. At Minnesota, she was a captain for two seasons, won two regular season championships, was a Patty Kazmaier Award nominee in 2010 and won the WCHA championship and the NCAA National Championship in 2011-12.

Prior to joining USA Hockey, she worked at The Arena in Colorado Springs, a multi-sport training facility, and has helped coach girls' hockey in Colorado and high school hockey in Bemidji, Minn.

USA Hockey Magazine sat down with West to discuss her new role and her thoughts on the growth of girls' hockey around the country.

You grew up playing youth hockey in Colorado and then attended the University of Minnesota. How do you think that experience will help you in your new position?

When I was growing up in Colorado, girls' hockey was not really popular. I played boys' hockey before eventually making the switch to a girls' travel team. I was fortunate enough to go to school in Minnesota, which is the land of hockey. I've seen both ends of the spectrum with girls growing up playing hockey and the battles we faced in Colorado and then seeing how popular girls' hockey is in Minnesota. I think my experience in college and the benefits that I had from great coaching along with the fact that I love kids will translate very well to this job.

As someone who rose up the ranks from grassroots hockey to play Div. I college hockey, how have you seen opportunities for females to play grow over the years?

When I came back from college it seemed like there were just more girls playing hockey in Colorado, which is awesome. You can see that start to evolve and the skill level get better. You can see them being rewarded with more opportunities. There are more girls from Colorado now playing D-I hockey or even D-3 hockey, which wasn't a big thing when I was growing up.

The American Development Model was probably not around or was at least in its infancy when you started playing. How much have you learned about the ADM in recent years and why do you think it's better than the "old-school" way of developing players?

I'm too old to have been a part of the ADM when I was playing. After doing some researching and learning and going out into the field with the guys and really seeing the ADM being implemented, especially for women's hockey and teaching skills at that age and the importance of age-appropriate training, I think it's huge. In all honesty, I wish we had the ADM when I was growing up because the focus is so much on the fundamentals that you build great hockey players.

In your new role as an ADM Regional Manager focusing on female hockey, how do you think you'll be able to help the next generation of young girls get into the game and develop the passion and skills to succeed?

The bottom line is that people play hockey because it's fun. Just bringing that back is a huge part of growing the game. Sometimes you can see practices where kids are zoned out and not having fun. I think you really need to establish that hockey is a great sport and whether you're teaching skills or skating. It needs to be enjoyed. When I was playing in college we had a saying, "'f you're not having fun then you're not playing well.' It would go hand in hand. Just getting back to getting kids involved and making sure they're enjoying themselves so that when they leave the rink they're saying 'I want to do that again.'

What is the biggest challenge facing girls' hockey today and what do you think in your new role you'll be able to do in this new role to help address them?

Every region is different. Numbers wise you're obviously competing with other sports, but ultimately, it's all about getting kids involved and making sure they have fun. As a goal, I think one measure of success is how many girls are playing hockey. If we can increase those numbers, that would be a win. Also, every time a girl wants to try hockey and loves it, that's a win. That's my job and that's what I'll be focusing on.

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