YOUTH HOCKEY: Minnesota Whitecaps goaltender Amanda Leveille visits youth hockey tournament

Photo by Jake Przytarski Minnesota Whitecaps goalie Amanda Leveille chats with a group of Marshall youth hockey players during a skills session on Sunday at the Red Baron Arena and Expo.

MARSHALL – Former Golden Gopher women’s hockey goaltender turned National Women’s Hockey League professional Amanda Leveille of the Minnesota Whitecaps paid a visit to Marshall’s Red Baron Arena and Expo on Sunday and spent time sharing her love and knowledge of the game with members of the Marshall and Redwood Area 10U and 12U teams in the form of a skills competition.

Reflecting on the experience, Leveille says she draws a great deal of pride in being able to inspire the young hockey players to chase their dreams.

“I had a lot of fun,” said Leveille. “I met a lot of young girls who now want to play on the Whitecaps, which is something that’s really special to me and something that I want to show young girls that they can strive to play in the NWHL one day.”

The event began with the young hockey players getting divided into four groups for four different stations offering a variety of skill-developing drills, and more importantly, a fun experience with their teammates.

According to Leveille, all of the smiling faces throughout the day was the most rewarding part of the experience.

“Just seeing the girls happy and smiling on the ice and knowing that you’re helping them achieve their goals (was rewarding),” said Leveille. “Like I said before that’s really important to me and I want to give all the girls the vision that they can look to me and see that I was able to achieve my goals.”

Not having a female professional hockey player to look up to while growing up, Leveille sees the importance of providing that role to young female hockey players of today.

“I haven’t had a female role model to look up to,” said Leveille. “My parents were my biggest supporters and my biggest role models and that’s why I want to go into the community and that’s why so many NWHL players do that. You can see it all over social media how they’re going into these communities and they’re going on the ice and they’re working with the girls.”

Ending the day with a shootout activity, the kids took turns skating down the ice and taking their best shot at scoring a goal on a professional hockey player. The drill was a favorite among the players and emphasized what Leveille wants the young players to take away from the whole experience, to have fun.

“(It’s important) just to have fun doing what you’re doing, especially at a young age,” said Leveille. “It’s that passion that’s gonna drive you to want to continue to play, and at the end of the day if you’re having fun it’s a lot easier to get better at what you’re doing.”