Scottsdale’s McGovern part of ‘incredible’ Whitecaps NWHL title team
Katie McGovern is a Scottsdale native, but she might as well call Minnesota her second home.
After playing NCAA Division I hockey at the University of Minnesota Duluth from 2013-17, McGovern joined the professional hockey ranks for the 2018-19 season with the National Women’s Hockey League’s (NWHL) Minnesota Whitecaps.
And what a rookie season she had, recording six goals and 11 points in 16 games and lifting the Isobel Cup as NWHL champions last month.
In reflecting on this past year, McGovern said it was a success on many levels.
“I found out the Whitecaps were joining the NWHL in May and that’s when I decided I wanted to try and make the team because I went to school at the University of Minnesota Duluth,” McGovern said. “I thought it would be a great experience to go back there and play professionally. At the end of July, they had a tryout, and I was told in August that I had made the team.
“I was impressed with NWHL because it’s so competitive. There are a lot of really good hockey players in the league. I was also impressed with the staff because they are so open for feedback and how to improve it and make it better.”
McGovern also noted that the NWHL is a major component of girls and women’s hockey growing all across North America.
“The NWHL is inspiring the next generation to follow their dreams and play professionally,” said McGovern. “It also gives women the opportunity to continue playing competitively after college.”
She also added that winning a championship in her first NWHL season was “incredible.”
“It was a goal of mine and my team from the beginning,” McGovern said. “It meant so much to win it because I made so many sacrifices in hockey during my hockey career and to win the Isobel Cup playing professionally was like a dream come true. Everything came together.”
Getting the chance to play college hockey and now professionally was an aspiration of McGovern’s from a young age.
“I think I realized I had the potential to go far in the game when I had my coaches and coaches at camps tell me I had a lot of potential,” said McGovern. “I just loved the game so much that I wanted to push myself to be the best player I could be.
“I loved my experience at UMD and playing in the NCAA tournament my senior year was really special. It was really the best four years of my life.”
McGovern grew up playing at Oceanside Ice Arena for the DYHA Firebirds, and then played girls hockey for the Arizona Selects and AZ Lady Coyotes.
“Gayle Shallop was my coach for the Lady Coyotes, and she really pushed me and inspired me to play college hockey because she played at Providence College,” noted McGovern.
Last year, McGovern took a year off from playing and coached the Lady Coyotes’ 14U team and with the Arizona State women’s hockey team. She also coached the Small Frys with Lyndsey Fry and this spring and summer will be working with the Small Frys again as well as with the new Kachinas Development Program.
“I want to be a role model for girls back in Arizona and show them if they work hard, they can follow their dreams, whether that’s to play high school hockey, college hockey, or professionally, they can do just that,” McGovern said. “I want to help develop them and hopefully, they can fall in love with the game, too.”
So what’s on tap for the 2019-20 season for McGovern?
“Right now, I’m not sure what my plans are for next year, but I will continue to train over the summer and skate,” said McGovern.
— Matt Mackinder
(May 8, 2019)