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Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

Winged Post
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Ice breaking, victory chasing

Iris Wang perseveres through injuries while exemplifying teamwork and passion
Iris+Wang+%2810%29+poses+with+her+hockey+stick.+%E2%80%9CI+just+really+love+all+the+ups+and+downs+of+hockey%2C%E2%80%9D+Iris+said.+%E2%80%9CYou+win+as+a+team%2C+you+lose+as+a+team%2C+and+although+losing+can+be+hard%2C+I+like+that+its+a+team+experience+and+everyone+lifts+each+other+up.%E2%80%9D
Emma Milner
Iris Wang (10) poses with her hockey stick. “I just really love all the ups and downs of hockey,” Iris said. “You win as a team, you lose as a team, and although losing can be hard, I like that it’s a team experience and everyone lifts each other up.”

Wind whips at Iris Wang’s (10) face as she stickhandles the puck, deftly weaving through defenders. She glances at the scoreboard, realizing that she only needs to keep the puck in her control for a few more seconds. Neon orange numbers display 4-1 on the scoreboard as the clock counts down to zero. Iris and her team skate into a group hug on the center of the ice, celebrating one of their biggest wins of the season at the Two Nations Tournament.   

Iris’ team, the 16U AAA Girls San Jose Junior Sharks, traveled in early Dec. of last year to Toronto to participate in the tournament, facing elite North American teams. Not only did the Californian team compete against teams from Canada, where hockey champions most of its popularity, but they also played two years up as the underdogs. Although initially unexpected, they won the seven-game tournament, and it became an unforgettable experience that gave them confidence in their abilities amongst other national teams. 

“Being a California team, no one really expects us to be anything,” Iris said. “Going to Toronto in the first place was a really great opportunity. We thought we weren’t going to win, but we pushed through. After we kept on winning, we kept getting more games and getting closer to the final and it was a really great time where everyone was super hyped.”

Before the championship game, logistical challenges, such as rebooking flights to later dates, exacerbated the team’s nerves. But through the team’s camaraderie and teamwork both on and off the ice, the girls were able to come together and pave the way for their victory.

“When we went onto the ice, I felt everything just went away, and we just continued to play our game,” Iris said. “In the end, even through all the complications and all the stress, it was really worth it. It was a moment where we proved ourselves not only to our coaches and our parents, but also the teams in Canada who thought they would have easy wins over us. That moment of triumph — I don’t think I could ever forget that moment.”

Our team has great players, but I think what really makes our team stand out is the teamwork. I’ve learned that it’s okay to rely on other people and also when other people need me, I can lift them up

— Hockey player Iris Wang (10)

Iris’s story first began at the age of six, when she joined a 6U (6 and under) girls San Jose Sharks hockey team. As her skills progressed, she joined a boys team when she was nine to experience a more competitive environment. 

A few years later, she joined the highest level of competition within the 16U (16 and under) girls category, the AAA team, or Tier 1. The key difference between men’s and women’s hockey comes down to the defensive play of body checking — where players forcefully use their upper body to try and steal the puck from their opponents. While this move is common in men’s hockey, it is considered an illegal move in female hockey teams. 

“People usually associate hockey with a lot of hitting, violence and fighting. But what I find really interesting is that in women’s hockey, a lot of it is more about the smaller techniques and more finesse. Shooting the puck, passing and skating isn’t really from your body and physicality. We actually have to build that up from when we started hockey and I think that’s something people do not really know about.”

Heightening her skills to reach the AAA team was not all smooth, though, and due to the intensity of practices and games, Iris faced two major injuries. She sustained a concussion when hit by a skate and suffered a broken collarbone after crashing into another player. 

“I feel the two-month period of injury really didn’t help my confidence,” Iris said. “All these other girls were developing and two months is a very crucial time period,” Iris said. “So when I got back into it, I had this huge mental block and I was like, ‘what if I’m not good enough?’ It took me quite a while to regain that finesse.”

Despite the setbacks from her injuries, the support system around her kept her going. Her team’s camaraderie kept her motivated and committed to recovering and returning back to top form.

“Something I’ve really learned through hockey is the importance of teamwork,” Iris said. “Our team has great players, but I think what really makes our team stand out is the teamwork. I’ve learned that it’s okay to rely on other people and also when other people need me, I can lift them up. Hockey has really shaped my sense of teamwork because of all the highs and lows that we go through.”

Iris Wang (10) ties her skates in preparation for practice. “Hockey has really shaped my sense of teamwork because of all the highs and lows that we go through,” Iris said.
(Emma Milner)

Her ability to effectively collaborate and communicate is evident throughout the team’s dynamic. Iris’ teammate Molly Ji, who met Iris at the San Jose Junior Sharks 6U team tryouts, noted how Iris’ work ethic and positive attitude have inspired her teammates throughout the eight years they have been together. 

“We always laugh when we’re around her and she’s always making us smile,” Molly said. “She’s also tough because even though she gets injured, she keeps going and works really hard to help our team. She always lifts me and my teammates up whenever we’re down.”

For Iris, hockey shaped her perseverance and fostered her ability to work with others, with both remaining key whether in times of triumph or injury and recovery. 

“I just really love all the ups and downs of hockey,” Iris said. “You win as a team, you lose as a team, and although losing can be hard, I like that it’s a team experience and everyone lifts each other up.”

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About the Contributors
Emma Milner
Emma Milner, Co-Sports Editor
Emma Milner (11) is the co-sports editor for Harker Aquila and the Winged Post, and this is her second year on staff. This year, Emma wishes to maintain strong sports coverage and continue improving her photography skills. Outside of school, she plays badminton competitively, and in her free time, she likes to watch Suits.
Claire Yu
Claire Yu, Reporter
Claire Yu (10) is a reporter for Harker Aquila, and this is her second year on staff. This year, Claire hopes to take more photos and not fall behind on her deadlines. In her free time, Claire enjoys listening to music, reading and playing basketball.

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