Modest people don’t usually have a killer instinct. Such is not the case for the Harvard women’s hockey team’s humble freshman, Julie Chu, who also happens to be one of the Crimson’s deadliest offensive weapons, a potent goal-scorer with blazing speed and an incredible knack for finishing.
Chu entered the season as a 20-year-old freshman after taking a year off to play for Team USA at the Salt Lake City Olympics in February 2002. Despite her pedigree, Chu entered Harvard without a chip on her shoulder.
“I felt like a freshman,” said Chu, an Olympic Silver medalist. “I felt no added pressure. As a freshman, I had to earn my spot. It was up to me to play my heart out.”
Chu more than earned her spot.
“Her creativity with the puck is one of a kind,” said fellow freshman forward and occasional linemate Jen Raimondi.
Chu led all rookies in goals (42), assists (51) and total points (93). She led the nation in power-play goals with 11. In fact, she was the country’s second best scorer, trailing only her linemate, Crimson captain and Canadian Olympic Gold Medalist Jennifer Botterill.
On a team with four captains and many veterans, Chu was able to fit in easily without any added responsibility to lead.
“I didn’t feel like I had to be a leader,” Chu said. “I felt like I was at the bottom of the totem pole.”
Nonetheless, the other freshmen looked up to Chu.
“Yes, she was a freshman but I think we all looked up to her as more of an ‘upperclassman,’” Raimondi said. “I know I definitely did. But she never made any of us feel inferior or below her—Julie is so good to us and it is a pleasure to call her a friend.”
Off the ice, Chu found the transition from athlete to student athlete a bit bumpy.
“It was definitely a little tough adjusting to the academic life,” Chu said. “Especially writing.”
Chu, a psychology concentrator, noted that her teammates provided an excellent support system, often acting as each other’s study partners to ensure that all goes as smoothly as possible. Indeed, Chu repeatedly referred to the team and the program as her family, and her teammates return the same sentiments.
“Julie is an amazing hockey player and an even better person,” Raimondi said. “She always puts others before herself and is the first to help when help is needed.”
Chu’s help was needed in Team USA’s bid to dethrone Canada in the World Championships in April, held in China. Unfortunately, due to the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), both Team USA and Team Canada cancelled their trips to China.