The Harvard women’s hockey team is used to having a few seniors to look up to for guidance and example. But this season, the Crimson has just one senior: captain Alisa Baumgartner.
Baumgartner has had to step into a leadership position on the team this season after being the sole player in her class since her sophomore year.
“The reason why this team looks ready to play is because of her,” Harvard coach Katey Stone said. “She’s gotten the team to [put in work] off the ice, and her commitment, attention to detail [exemplify] what it means to be a Harvard hockey player. Thus far, [she] has been a tremendous captain.”
The senior said that the transition has been a bit challenging, but that the experiences she has had on the team in the past three years have prepared her for her leadership role.
“In high school, I came from a [senior] class of nine, so going to a class of one is … tougher,” Baumgartner said. “I’ve been the only one in my class for the past three years, but…[there aren’t] really class distinctions on our team. And … the seniors, [from] my freshman year, really taught me what it means to be part of Harvard hockey.”
Baumgartner has set the tone and expectations of the small but close-knit team for the year.
“The culture of Harvard hockey separates us from a lot of other ... teams throughout the league,” Baumgartner said. “Everyone is part of the team. It doesn’t matter if you’re a freshman [or a] senior; everyone is expected to contribute. Everyone’s a leader in their own way.”
Baumgartner will have to wait to showcase her hard offseason training.
A shoulder injury in the offseason has prevented her from handling a puck while she is on the ice.
“[Injury is] really hard when you [have] worked so hard at a sport,” Baumgartner said. “It’s been part of your identity your entire life and then, the last season, you have to give it everything you have and move on to whatever you’re going to do in life. It’s hard to watch from the bench.”
Baumgartner’s shoulder injury kept her from playing in the Crimson’s first exhibition game against McGill last Saturday, a 3-1 victory for Harvard.
Although she has to stay on the bench while she recovers, Baumgartner has refused to let it keep her down.
“I’m slowly getting back into practices,” Baumgartner said. “The only thing I can do is be positive and try and get my teammates fired up for the season and keep them motivated and keep them positive.”
Although Baumgartner can’t touch a puck until she has healed, she has been working hard to stay active with approved training, so that she is ready to go when her injuries heal.
“She’s been working so hard … she’s lifting with us, she’s on the ice with us,” junior defenseman Josephine Pucci said. “She’s sacrificing so much time … Her heart [is] totally in it … She’s positive for the team. Even though she can’t be there [playing] on the ice with us and doing everything we do, she’s still such a strong presence. It takes a lot to be able to do that with the amount of setbacks that she’s had.”