IHOC : National Sports Academy helps freshman Goodnough make smooth transition to Syracuse

first_img Published on November 30, 2011 at 12:00 pm Facebook Twitter Google+ Nearing the end of a long morning practice, the exhaust and drag of the Syracuse players was evident as they skated suicides from red line to red line. For most freshmen, this strenuous practice is new to their normal athletic rituals.But to Kaillie Goodnough, it is not. The Syracuse freshman defender has a different background from most of her SU teammates.Along with sophomore defender Brittney Krebs, Goodnough played high school hockey at the National Sports Academy in Lake Placid. NSA is a school built on the intertwined system of academics and winter sports to educate and prepare future Olympians.‘We have the (rare) ability where girls can come here, focus on the school year for nine months and have an on-ice season of seven months,’ NSA U-19 women’s ice hockey coach Bill Ward said. ‘Training daily, practicing daily, on ice, off ice, weight room and playing 75-80 games.’Goodnough’s athletic education at the NSA has eased the transition into collegiate hockey and made her a standout among Syracuse’s freshmen.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAfter finishing her sophomore year at South Jefferson Central School, Goodnough faced a difficult decision. She could continue her education there, or go three hours north to Lake Placid to further pursue her dream of playing hockey in college. Two weeks before the start of her junior year, she decided to leave her friends behind and go to the NSA after being advised by the Syracuse coaches.She never looked back on the decision and said she has yet to feel any regret.Coming into Syracuse, Goodnough had an abundance of skills that separated her from most recruits, SU head coach Paul Flanagan said. As a defender, he said she possesses a strong, physical presence in addition to a gifted, offensive instinct that allows her to take over a game at any point.All of those attributes account for her playing in all 16 games so far this season, tallying six points.‘She has a great attitude, which is something that can’t be overlooked,’ Flanagan said. ‘She is always smiling, always wide-eyed and wanting to learn, which is a great thing to have.’But Goodnough would not have flourished so quickly at Syracuse if she didn’t have the polished skills developed at the NSA.Unlike other high schools or prep schools, students at the NSA can embrace their winter sport of preference, such as hockey, and have it incorporated into their academics.‘You practice in the day like it is one of your class times,’ senior Megan Skelly, who attended the NSA in Calgary, said. ‘Go to practice, then you come back and go to physics. I think it prepares you for what you see in the future.’That higher level of intensity presented by the NSA is not just limited to the extra practice. It is extended to its schedules. The academy offers a more difficult schedule that requires players to travel a good amount, preparing them for the college level.But the lavish, strenuous schedule also comes with more training, and the NSA adds that component with a strength and conditioning coach.‘They get them in the weight room and the kids are prepared,’ Flanagan said. ‘They have a strength coach. We are noticing some of the kids coming out of high school programs, sometimes they get here and they think they work out, but they never have.’Flanagan has kept a strong relationship with the NSA throughout the years. It’s allowed the school to become a pipeline for his Syracuse team. Goodnough, Skelly and Krebs are all key contributors on the ice for the Orange this season.Flanagan acknowledges it can become a snowball effect and a feeder school of sorts.‘We get little patterns,’ Flanagan said. ‘You get one girl and then her friend goes there … it helps recruiting-wise.’Goodnough’s time at the NSA, through the haze, whistles and pain, has allowed her to make an easier transition from the high school to collegiate level. She’s already a vital part of the team. And she said she’s going to try to continue to improve at Syracuse to live up to her own expectations.Said Goodnough: ‘I hope to become one of the top (defenders) on the ice.’[email protected] center_img Commentslast_img

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