Hockey forward Hayley Scamurra

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A member of the U.S. women’s national hockey team since 2019, Hayley Scamurra has discovered a unique way to up her game.

Growing up with a father who had played professional ice hockey and three older brothers who loved to lace up their skates in the backyard rink, Hayley Scamurra found her passion for the sport early on.

The 28-year-old now is a veteran of the U.S. women’s ice hockey team, which took gold in May at the 2023 Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship.

“That was pretty incredible,” says Scamurra, a forward/left wing whose father, Peter Scamurra, played for the NHL’s Washington Capitals in the 1970s. “To feel like I am a veteran on the team is pretty exciting and cool. It’s something I worked very hard to achieve. I love being able to help other people, and I also can give hope to some of the older girls that they, too, can make it.”

Scamurra started honing her skills in a local league in Buffalo and played as a freshman at a college prep school in town. She then spent three years on teams in the Ontario junior women’s league, with her dad driving her back and forth to Canada, an hour and 20 minutes each way.

She realized she might have a future in professional hockey while playing in the Canadian league. “I started getting talked to by colleges, and I thought, ‘Oh, this could be cool,’” says Scamurra, who now lives in Annapolis, Maryland.

She played four years at Northeastern University in Boston, where as a senior she was named best defensive forward in the Women’s Hockey East Association. In 2016, she graduated magna cum laude with a degree in speech language pathology.

She was drafted 10th overall in the National Women’s Hockey League by the Buffalo Beauts and played for the team for about three seasons. In 2017, the Beauts were acquired by the Pegula family, also owners of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, who heavily invested in improvements, she says.

“We had pre- and postgame meals, skills sessions … we had all these different things at our disposal to be the best player I could be,” Scamurra recalls. “I think that year really helped me develop into the player I am today.”

Making the U.S. women’s team in 2019 was thrilling and unexpected, because Scamurra had somewhat given up on that dream. Her chance came after she was called to attend the national team’s training camp as an alternate and then was invited to play in a series against Canada. This led to her earning a spot on the national team.

Competing in the 2020 Winter Olympics, where Team USA took silver, was amazing and almost surreal, she says. Her next goal is to make the 2026 Olympic roster.

Scamurra describes herself as a “super competitive” player who enjoys the physical aspects of the game. “I love those battles in the corner and beating my opponent,” she says.

For the past year, she has used an additional technique to boost her game: visualization. “I visualize making certain plays, scoring goals, so when I get on the ice, it feels like second nature, like I’ve done it before,” she explains. “It’s helped me. I have definitely noticed changes on the ice. Other people have told me that, as well, which is really cool.”

Scamurra is a member of the Professional Women’s Hockey Player Association (PWHPA), which formed in 2019 and joined forces with Billie Jean King Enterprises and the Mark Walter Group in 2022. They expect to launch a new, yet-to-be-named women’s professional ice hockey league in January.

The prospect of playing again in a professional league, which she hasn’t done since leaving the Beauts four years ago, is thrilling for Scamurra.

“We wanted to create a good league from the bottom up, with a strong foundation,” she says of the PWHPA. “Now, it’s finally coming to fruition.”

The above appears in the October 2023 issue of the print version of Fra Noi. Our gorgeous, monthly magazine contains a veritable feast of news and views, profiles and features, entertainment and culture. To subscribe, click here.

 

About Elena Ferrarin

Elena Ferrarin is a native of Rome who has worked as a journalist in the United States since 2002. She has been a correspondent for Fra Noi for more than a decade. She previously worked as a reporter for The Daily Herald in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, The Regional News in Palos Heights and as a reporter/assistant editor for Reflejos, a Spanish-English newspaper in Arlington Heights. She has a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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