Presley Norby is more than ready to try to lead the U.S. Women’s National Under-18 Team to a second consecutive IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Championship.
The 17-year-old Norby received a crash course in leadership from the best women’s hockey players in the sport when she was invited to train with the U.S. Women’s National Team and later selected to play with the team in the Four Nations Cup.
“It was really cool and definitely a little intimidating at first,” Norby said. “But as soon as you get into the game, we were all working together and you realize every one of us is super competitive, so it makes it easier to bond.”
Norby, who as a junior led her Minnetonka (Minn.) High School team to the state championship game last February, grew up admiring players such as Gigi Marvin, Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan and others, admitting that she always wanted to be like them. The national team spotlight wasn’t too large for Norby, who experienced little trouble blending in with her new teammates on the ice, even though she was the youngest player on the roster.
“Not being close in age, I didn’t talk about my job or my house, but we connected so much on the hockey level,” Norby said. “I got so much closer with them that by the time we started playing, I didn’t feel like a 17-year-old, I felt like I was part of it.
“When I came back, I felt like so much more of a better person and hockey player. They are amazing hockey players, and to see how they were in the locker room was unbelievable. They are my idols, but I learned so much from them.”
It all started when Norby was selected as a non-roster invitee to train with the senior national team in an effort to learn on- and off-ice day-to-day habits from the older players.
“I hope that means they respect how I play, and I hope they like my worth ethic and competitiveness,” Norby said. “I felt they also thought I was a person that can jell with whatever group I was thrown into. I don’t think they would’ve invited me if they felt I couldn’t compete.”
Norby, a University of Wisconsin recruit, was on a line with former Badgers Decker and Hilary Knight.
“I was there to learn and wasn’t super nervous,” Norby said. “They’re so good, it’s hard to play bad with them. I just tried to keep up and make the right plays. I was having fun and making the most of it, and that’s probably when I’m playing my best.”
Little did she know at the time that her play at the training camp would lead to a trip to Sweden and an opportunity to play with the national team in the Four Nations Cup, which the U.S. won following an overtime win against rival Canada.
“Every game is fast at that level, and it’s fun to play in a fast game where everybody is super smart and makes the right decision,” Norby said. “The whole team aspect of the game opened my eyes.
“Every girl comes ready to play, whether it’s a practice or pregame skate. They’re consistent, and they mean business every day. That’s why they’re the best in the world.”
Norby wants to eventually reach that level, and returning to high school hockey, she’s just trying to make the right plays, do the right thing and bring back leadership skills so she can set a positive example for her teammates.
“It definitely helps me grow as a player, knowing I can compete at that level, but it also makes me realize how much further I have to go,” Norby said. “Being on the national team consistently is something everybody dreams about, so it opened my eyes to how hard I need to work to stay on that level.”
For now, Norby is focused on taking what she learned and winning a second straight gold medal with the U18 team next month in St. Catharines, Ontario.
“I have the countdown on my phone,” Norby said. “Even though we won gold last year, I’m even hungrier this year, being more of a leader and knowing my place on the team.
“Being that this is my last year, I want to go out on a high note, because I think we’re really special and we have a close group.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.