“Dreams do come true,” Cayla Barnes ’17 wrote on her Twitter post with a screenshot of the US Women’s National Team roster invited to play in the 2018 games. Cayla is also the youngest member of the women’s team – it was less than a year ago that she walked across the stage at her New Hampton School graduation, bound for Boston College to continue her career as a student-athlete.
We asked Cayla to share some of her own thoughts on this dream come true:
The Early Years
Growing up, hockey has always been a part of my family. With four older brothers, the sport was introduced to me at a very young age and I never looked back. As I grew up playing in California, I mostly played on boy’s teams as the girl’s programs were still rising. Knowing I had dreams of one day playing college hockey and going to the Olympics, I knew that after my 8th grade year I would have to move away from home.
A Better Balance
When I was 12, I began to do prep school showcases and was recruited by various schools in New England. Craig Churchill, the Women’s Varsity Hockey Coach at New Hampton, was one of those coaches that I met who watched me play when I was very young. Investing a lot of time in effort into this process, Coach Churchill presented the school and ensured me my experience here would be unforgettable. He was right. After I came on a visit in the summer, I instantly knew New Hampton was the place for me and I could not have been more excited.
One of my fondest New Hampton memories is giving the dedication speech when we opened Jacobson Arena. Then later that we won the NEPSAC Championship for the first time in New Hampton Women’s Hockey history. It was truly a landmark year to show how far the program had come and I am so blessed to have spent my senior year in such a positive way and be a part of an unforgettable team.
I met my best friends, was challenged academically, grew as a person, and got to try new things that helped me reach my dreams today. After graduating this past spring, I often find myself looking at old pictures and missing the quality time I spent with so many special people.
On to College
Following my high school graduation, I was excited to start a new journey at Boston College this fall. I enjoyed my classes and my team was a joy to be around. I met new friends and had started to become a part of the community when I got the call from the US Women’s National team in late October. I made the decision to withdraw from school and moved down to Florida. All of a sudden, my dreams were coming true in the blink of an eye. Everything I had worked for my entire life paid off when my name was announced to the official Olympic roster on January 1st.
As I prepare to depart for South Korea in just 9 days, words do not describe how excited I am to have this opportunity. I look forward to taking it all in, watching other athletes compete, and seeing the Olympic Village. From getting our apparel to meeting other athletes and seeing my family in the stands, it still seems surreal.
I am approaching the Olympics Games as I would any other hockey tournament, assuring myself that both my team and I are fully prepared for this moment. We have spent a lot of time preparing in the past few months and are eager to show off all of our hard work. I am truly grateful to experience this moment with my family and teammates. It is even more incredible to be a part of something so much bigger than myself during a time where there is peace through sports. Playing for the United States is a true honor as we get to represent this great nation and all those who have fought under our flag.
I can’t wait to depart for this journey and hopefully return with a gold medal around my neck. Go USA! Go Huskies!