IHAAZ standouts Proud, Clark reflect on summer in Italy
Tatum Proud and Izzy Clark represented IHAAZ on a big stage over the summer.
The two 16-year-old inline hockey stars earned a spot on the Team USA junior women’s inline team that competed in Italy at the International Roller Sports Federation (FIRS) inline hockey world championship tournament.
Proud plays for the Knighthawks and Clark is with the Yuma Blaze. They were joined on the team by two others from Arizona in Lauren Powers, who is on the Arizona State Division III roller team, and Macy Eide, who plays ice hockey at Arizona State.
“I was super excited to be given the opportunity to represent my country while growing the game of girls inline hockey,” Proud said. “I made amazing new friends, hopefully teammates for years to come with four of us being from Arizona.
“Being awarded the opportunity to play hockey at the highest level has given me confidence and opened my eyes to a totally different level of hockey. Playing against teams from all over the world allowed me to go up against many different playing styles that I would have never seen in only the United States. And it showed me that I am capable of playing with the best players in the world.”
The chance to experience life in another country was a highlight of the trip as well.
“What I enjoyed most was spending time with my great friends in a whole other country,” Clark said. “Being able to experience different foods and see how different it was from here. In the games, my favorite moments were just being able to play. I had a lot of fun playing in Italy.
“One of the coolest things was being able to sing the national anthem before each game. We would line up, put our arms around each other and sing it.”
The team played six games in the tournament and spent a lot of time preparing for the competition before heading overseas. Team USA finished 2-2-2.
“We spent a lot of time practicing,” said Clark. “We had around four practices a week at the Yuma rink, spending two hours daily during the week conditioning with soccer. And then we traveled to Phoenix every Sunday to play three games at the Peoria Sportsplex. And then we had Team USA practice for 1-2 hours afterwards.”
Proud said the time spent in practice was well worth it considering the teams Team USA was up against in Italy.
“The competition was extremely tough,” Proud said. “I think the biggest challenge of all was adapting my goaltending to all of the different playing styles. Every country plays hockey just a little differently.”
Proud said the experience proved valuable to her and she hopes to use it as a springboard to success during the upcoming IHAAZ season.
“I believe my positive attitude and love for the game are my biggest strengths,” Proud said. “I’m hoping to get as much goalie training as possible before the IHAAZ season starts to become a better all-around goalie.”
Clark is hoping to mold her game after some of the playing styles she saw while in Italy.
“It will benefit me because I went there and I was able to experience a whole different playing style with each game,” Clark said. “Some styles went really well, which I’m hoping to include in my game during the IHAAZ season.”
Proud and Clark both have a strong passion for the game and can’t wait for the season ahead in IHAAZ. The bonds and friendships they forged while in Italy are something they won’t forget.
“The inline hockey community is extremely supportive,” Proud said. “All of the teams in IHAAZ seem to come together within the state are a tight-knit family. Before playing for Team USA, I had friends from all over Arizona because of IHAAZ. Now, I have friends from all over the world.”
Top photo: Lauren Power, coach Greg Era, Tatum Proud, coach Lyndsey Fry, Maci Edie and Izzy Clark – all from Arizona – soak in the experience at the FIRS inline hockey world championship tournament over the summer in Italy.
— Brian Lester
(Sept. 25, 2018)