Some of you may have noticed the consistent theme of hard work and focusing on what players should be doing to reach their goals these last couple of weeks.
As the third and final part of the ‘A Day in the Life’ series, I caught up with Metropolitan Riveters player, Rebecca Russo.
The Metropolitan Riveters, formally known as the New York Riveters, are one of four teams in the newly formed National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL). Russo has been a fan favorite of the Riveters since joining the league. She was named to the NWHL all-star game and finished the 16/17 season with 16 points in 18 games.
Russo is in her second season and is a strong advocate and face for the NWHL. Before making her debut with the Riveters, Russo was a forward for Boston University (BU) and graduated with a degree in Communications. Russo’s hockey highlights include recording 38 points her senior season at BU, holding the record for fastest goal in BU history (scoring just 12 seconds into the game) and a winning a National Championship in 2011 at Shattuck St. Mary’s.
Russo is known for being an unselfish team player. “I love to pass the puck and score goals. I do anything in my power to make my team better and contribute to help my team win whether it is blocking shots, playing well in the defensive zone and having a great game all around.”
While the NWHL is a step up from D1 hockey because it is filled with the best female hockey players around the country, their schedule may surprise you.
Rebecca Russo and Metropolitan Riveters teammates
“As many of you know or don’t know, us NWHL players have two jobs, for the most part. We don’t just get to play hockey. We have to work a 9-5 job and then head to practice after work twice a week and play our games on the weekends. I work in the Garment District in Manhattan as a sales/executive assistant for a fabrics company, Zelouf International.
A typical schedule for me looks something like this: I wake up around 6:30am, make my lunch and breakfast and hop on the train from Jersey City to Manhattan. I get to work around 8:15am and finish work around 5:30pm. I get back to my apartment around 6:00pm. On Tuesday’s and Thursday’s I head to practice with my two roommates who also play on the team and work in Manhattan. Practice starts around 8:45pm and ends around 10:00pm. We get back to our apartment in Jersey City, NJ around 10:45pm. Since the adrenaline is still kicking from practice, I don’t fall asleep until about midnight and then the alarm goes off at 6:30am and the next day begins. It is all worth it and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I love being able to have a full-time job and play the game I love so much.”
So how did Russo get the opportunity to make history in the NWHL?
Plain and simple: a lot of hard work.
“Hard work means working harder than the person next to you. Just know that if you aren’t doing anything, someone else is. I always have that mindset every day. What are you going to do today to make yourself better? It doesn’t need to be 100% hockey related. By working hard on the ice, off the ice, and most importantly in the classroom, everything you do will help you achieve your goals and put you ahead of the person next to you. If you want to be the best at whatever it is, then you must put in the work. Nothing is just going to be given to you, if you want something…go get it!”
In high school her workouts would start after school and at the time, her team did a lot of cross fit high-pace workouts. “They would range from 100-200 burpees, 100-200 push-ups, 100-200 squats and sprints. They were hard but well worth it since we played hockey year-round and needed to be in our best shape possible.”
Now that Russo is in the NWHL, her pre-season training is a bit different. Unlike players in the NHL, the NWHL players don’t have the luxury of being able to support themselves by playing hockey.
“I live in Jersey City and have to head home on the weekends for my workouts with my trainer and work out during the weeks in the gym in my apartment. Back in the summer before my college hockey seasons I would train at 7:00am back in Connecticut with my trainer Ben Prentiss. Ben Prentiss trains the most elite NHL and Olympic athletes like Martin St. Louis, Chris Kreider, Kevin Shattenkirk, Jonathan Quick, Cam Atkinson, and many more. I look up to them as both people and athletes and they help me and push me to be my very best. I head home in the summers every weekend to work out and skate with NHL players with my skating coach Tomasz Piatek who was my youth hockey coach for many years. I train and skate with the best to help me achieve my goals both on and off the ice and to get me ready for the season ahead.”
How early should players begin preparing to reach their goals?
“I started preparing for college hockey since the day I was born. I was put into figure skates at the age of 3 for about a month. I then followed my older brother, Brandon, who was two years older than me and also a hockey player. I wanted to be just like him. I am a very determined, hardworking, and focused person both on and off the ice and when I set a goal, I like to achieve it, whether its short term or long term. I fulfilled my goal of wanting to play college hockey by heading to Boston University with the assumption that college hockey was going to be it for me. I had a dream of playing in the Olympics my entire life thinking that was going to be the end goal. But in 2014/2015 the NWHL was created and there was hope. There was now hope for women hockey players. I now am in my second season in the NWHL and I couldn’t be happier. There is a professional women’s hockey league and its something that young girls can look up to and have a future in this sport. I always wanted to play in the NHL growing up, but now that there is the NWHL, younger generations now have the NWHL and I am so happy and humbled for this opportunity.”
When it comes to setting and reaching goals it’s important to remember that each person is unique. “Everyone is different. Every athlete in the NWHL had the same goal but all achieved it in different ways. We all had different paths to get to where we are today, and you need to create your own path what is best for you. You need to work hard every single day and stay focused on your goals both in the classroom and on the ice.”
For players like Rebecca Russo, the NWHL is more than just a dream.
“The NWHL means the world to me. It means there is a future for this sport and I couldn’t be happier to be a strong face and advocate for this league. I try my best every single day to push myself to continue paving the way for future generations. I am not playing in the league for the money, and many other NWHL players can say the same. We are playing in the NWHL for the love of the game, every player loves the game and is willing to put the time and effort in on top of our already busy schedules. We love this sport and we want to see it succeed and to be successful for those young athletes that want to be just like us one day.”
I asked Russo to share one final piece of advice with young players:
“I think I have shared a lot with everyone today. The bottom line and my advice to hockey players/athletes are to work hard every single day and stay positive. If it’s not hockey, then work hard in whatever it is you want to do, find your passion. I find myself successful because of the work I put in every single day and the work I continue to put in to hockey and my job. I couldn’t have done it without the love and support of my parents, so make sure to thank your parents and tell them you love them every single day just like I did because I wouldn’t be here today without my parents. Think about it: they drive you everywhere - to your practices, games, every tournament all over the state or country. They want you to have fun and to live out your dream. Keep fighting and keep working hard. There’s now a future for young female athletes and I’m honored, humbled, and proud to help pave the way for you. Work Hard and Good Luck!”