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DYHA grad Cooper gearing up for challenge at NCAA D-I St. Anselm

 

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Kenadie Cooper was born in Wyoming and loved playing hockey.

And while Wyoming couldn’t provide the types of hockey opportunities Cooper and her family strived for, Arizona, on the other hand, could.

Spending her formative years in Gilbert and playing for the DYHA Firebirds and then Jr. Sun Devils, Cooper later ventured out to Vermont to play prep school hockey for the North American Hockey Academy (pictured below), where she has been for three years.

Next season, she’s off to play NCAA hockey at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire – a school that next year will be part of the New England Women’s Hockey Alliance, a new Division I conference.

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“I have had a lot of great guidance and exposure at the North American Hockey Academy,” said Cooper. “I had other opportunities from different colleges, but none of them fit me well. I ended up speaking with the head coach of St. A’s (Kerstin Matthews) and going on several visits. I loved the campus and everything about it.

“The school was incredibly appealing in all aspects. It’s an absolutely beautiful campus and a very tight-knit community overall. From a hockey standpoint, I really liked the coach along with the values and philosophies she had when it came to both playing the game and taking life experiences from it. All the girls I spoke to on the team were very down to earth and genuine about why they were there. You could tell that they were a successful team not only from the statistics but from the way the presented themselves.”

St. Anselm’s academic programs were also a selling point for Cooper.

“The school itself is small, which was exactly what I was looking for,” Cooper said. “They have very well-known nursing and bio programs. Also, the classes are small, which give you the opportunity to get to know your professors. I wanted to be more than just a number in my school.”

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Playing for DYHA helped Cooper hone her skills and develop to the point where she could play at higher levels.

“Playing for DYHA was a fantastic experience because it refined a lot of my skills and in many ways, taught me grit,” said Cooper. “It was never easy being the only girl on a boys team or, in some cases, the whole league. I had to be willing to give and take hits from boys that are quite a bit bigger. Something that I always carry with me now is my lack of fear. Every time I touch the ice, I’m not afraid to go in the corner and battle or take that hit when we’re on the breakout. DYHA was also where I honed my power skating skills. Having that ability to be a fast skater with great edges is an advantage that I’ve used through high school and will most certainly be thankful for at the D-I level.”

Cooper added that “there are so many coaches from DYHA that I’m grateful to have been coached and influenced by,” including Todd Collins, Jon Koshiol, John Damyanovich, Jarred Smith, Mike Ziembowicz and Randy Vance.

Koshiol sees Cooper being an impact player with St. Anselm.

“Kenadie is a very focused and intelligent individual,” Koshiol said. “Anyone who has coached her or played with her knows that she will continue to push herself, both on and off the ice, to get better each and every day. I’m certain she will do very well playing at the highest level of women’s college hockey while pursuing a college degree because of that focus and dedication. I’m sure it will be a challenging, yet fun and rewarding experience for her. All of her hockey friends and family will be rooting for her.”

— Matt Mackinder

(Dec. 17, 2018)