Training Hard For Fourth Olympic Team (1/9/13)

Happy New Year!  Hope this year brings everyone much happiness and many great experiences. 

I’m Julie Chu and I’ve been fortunate enough to be a member of the U.S. Women’s National Ice Hockey Team since 2000.  During that time, I have competed in three Olympic Games (earned silver in 2002, bronze in 2006 and silver in 2010) as well as numerous other international competitions.  I have seen the face of our game change drastically during that time not only in players, but in the speed, skill and physicality of the women’s game.  I am blessed to still be training hard to try and make my fourth Olympic team at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.  It’s exciting to think how quickly Sochi is approaching as the start of our official Olympic tryouts will begin this summer.  Wow!

Besides competing on our national team, I am currently in my third season as the assistant coach of the Union Women’s Ice Hockey Team.  I have greatly enjoyed my time at Union as a coach and as a member of the Union College community.  The girls and staff I get to work with make my job less of a “job” and more of a lifestyle that I am passionate and enthusiastic about.  What makes my experience a bit different at Union than other college coaches may have at their schools is that I also combine training for the national team with my daily coaching.  This means that each day at practice I suit up in my full equipment and practice against and with my players as I also coach them.  Initially, I wasn’t sure how this dynamic would work, but the feedback I have received from my players has been positive. My girls know they are my training partners and are making me better each day, so that I have the chance to continue chasing my dreams.  In turn, I hope I can bring them knowledge of the game and desire to get better each day.

My teammate Lisa Chesson with me at our training camp before the 2012 Four Nations Cup.

In addition to training and coaching, I also play on the Montreal Stars in the CWHL.  The CWHL, or Canadian Women’s Hockey League is a professionally run league with one team in Alberta, two in Toronto, one in Montreal and one in Boston.  I am currently playing in my third season at Montreal and love being part of a team with great veteran experience and exciting young players.  Last year, we were fortunate enough to win the Clarkson Cup (the CWHL version of the Stanley Cup) and are working hard to replicate that feat again.  However, we know very well the other talented teams in the league.  Therefore, we must do all we can to prepare and grow throughout the season, so we put ourselves in a position to be successful in the end.

I often get asked how I balance everything.Well some weeks are harder than others, but I have found that if you truly enjoy what you do, then you find a way to make it work and get them most out of each moment. With my coaching and playing schedules, a typical week for me is Monday-Saturday I coach at Union. Saturday night I drive to Montreal, Toronto or Boston. Sunday I play in a game with Montreal and then Sunday night I drive home to start coaching again on Monday. Some think I live a crazy lifestyle, where some months are a bit busy. But I love what I do and I take nothing for granted. By doing so, I am able to approach most things in my day with a smile and with great enthusiasm. Good music for the many hours in the car never hurts too!

You can also follow my journey on Twitter @JulieChu13.