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Big Red Sports Network Profile Gia Massari ’21 & Sydney McCormack ‘21

Jordan Brown ’21

Gia Massari ‘21 and Sydney McCormack ‘21 have stepped up to the challenge of leading the Big Red girls’ varsity ice hockey team in a fully virtual setting. Jordan Brown ‘21 spoke with them to learn more about their experiences as dynamic and talented players and how they are experiencing their last hockey season at Lawrenceville.

Jordan Brown: When and how did you get involved with hockey?

Gia Massari: I have two older brothers who started playing when I was younger and I thought it looked fun to try, so I started skating that year and started on a boys' team in first grade.

Sydney McCormack: I started playing hockey when I was five years old. My dad played hockey growing up as a kid and continues to play today, my mom even played a little bit, so when my brother and I got to be four or five years old, our parents signed us up for a team and we’ve been playing ever since! Hockey is definitely a family affair for us, we grew up playing on an outdoor rink (the best type of hockey) and we even build a rink in our backyard!

JB: What do you enjoy most about hockey?

GM: The people I meet from going to tournaments and camps and such because it's always cool to meet people from all over. I also just like hockey itself with the competition, being on the ice, and being part of a team in general and learning how to work together to win the game.

SM: I love being a part of a team, and hockey is the most team-oriented sport I’ve ever been a part of. I love how we always put the good of the team before ourselves, and we always try to encourage and push one another in practices and games, etc. There’s something special when everyone knows they are working together for something bigger than themselves. Some of the closest friendships I’ve made are with my hockey teammates and I couldn’t be more grateful.

JB: What position(s) do you play? What’s your favorite to play?

GM: Defense now, but I used to play offense. I think defense is my favorite because I like to block shots.

SM: I play right wing, and sometimes center, so forwards. My favorite position is right wing, but honestly any chance to get on the ice is fine with me.

JB: What has been your favorite part of participating in ice hockey at Lawrenceville?

GM: Our team is always so fun to be around and we all have a good time together. Also I love our coaches (Nicole Uliasz, Nicole Stock, and Brianna Uliasz) because they are always there for us and want us to succeed.

SM: Definitely the team. My teammates have made my years on Big Red varsity ice hockey the best that I could have ever asked for. We spend so much time together during practices and hanging out in the locker room, grinding at Al Rashid [Strength and Conditioning Center]. We we take lifts pretty seriously which is something I admire. We are always pushing each other to add more weight or get the reps in), on the bus rides having riff-offs, and especially at the hockey table in Irwin [Dining Center]. All of my years on the team, all of us players have just genuinely liked each other and been really good friends so even out of season we all get together and hang out. Hands down, it is the most welcoming, fun, hardworking team I’ve ever been a part of.

JB: What’s your favorite memory of Lawrenceville hockey?

GM: The Taft Tournament from both sophomore and junior year. From junior year, I think my favorite moment of the Taft tournament was my dance before a game with Kyley Toye ‘22 because we did a front flip during it and it was just fun.

SM: It’s hard to choose a favorite, there are so many good memories. I love our hockey table, right when you walk up the stairs in the Stanley pod of Irwin. We have a special tradition that has been going on long before I ever got here where we never sit at multiple tables, we always just keep adding chairs to the circle and moving outwards, widening the circle so everyone on the team can be included and see each other. It could be the middle of hockey season or sometime during our other sports seasons, but no matter what I always know I have a place to sit with people who will welcome me. I think this really speaks to the type of team we are and what is important to us.

JB: How is ice hockey operating during a fully virtual winter term?

GM: [Coach Nicole] Stock set it up so that one Zoom is a fun zoom where we do a fun little ice breaker planned by two new people every time, then we watch the dance of whoever was picked for that week. The other Zoom is more informative where we talk about nutrition or systems and playing in general. We also have to send Stock at least two workouts we did for that week so we stay active.

JB: How have you managed the challenges of leading the team as a captain while online?

GM: It's definitely hard because we're all pretty upset that we don't have a season, but we've been keeping some traditions as best we can. The main one would be doing our pregame dances over Zoom, which makes everyone laugh so it's nice to still be able to have that. I think we just try to stay positive and do what we can over Zoom.

SM: This is definitely not how I saw my senior year on the team going, but I’m grateful that at least we get to meet together virtually and continue some of our traditions such as the dances, team merchandise, etc.

As for being captain, I’m really honored that my teammates voted me and I’m just trying my best to keep things as upbeat and interesting as possible. Gia and I began fostering the team culture back in the fall when we got to hop on the ice a few times a week, which let us get to know the majority of the girls. Combined with our rotating ice breakers, I think we’ve gotten a lot of the team involved. Our motto last year was “Smile and it’s fun!” And that’s something we’ve been continuing this year. Obviously not the most ideal situation, but we’ve been keeping the vibes up and staying positive and I think the team can tell and is giving the same energy back. There’s never a dull moment.

For additional information, please contact Lisa M. Gillard Hanson, director of Public Relations, at lgillard@lawrenceville.org.