Girls Hockey: Mundelein’s Thompson ‘all in’ when it comes to hockey
Brittany Thompson of the Mundelein, seen here playing for the U-14 Falcons at the national tournament this winter, plans to play at the U-19 level this fall.
Updated: July 23, 2012 6:38AM
It was quite an eighth-grade year for West Oak Middle School 2012 graduate Brittany Thompson.
In track, she won conference championships in shot put and discus. She also played trombone and drums in the school band.
But the highlight? In her first year playing for the Highland Park Falcons hockey club, Thompson helped the U-14 team advance to nationals, in March, and the squad ended up finishing third. It marked the first time the Falcons sent a team to the national tournament in almost 20 years.
“She was a steady player, and you always knew what you would get with Brittany,” said Falcons coach John Newtown. “She was ready for whatever situation you put her in. She limited mistakes and always produced.”
Thompson competed with the Falcons because it was a chance to play club hockey at a higher level.
“We practiced more, which helped us a lot,” she said. “I got a lot faster and better at stick-handling and shooting because of the drills we would do.”
Her new teammates embraced Thompson from the start.
“They were really welcoming and talked to me right away,” she said.
Added Newtown: “It was exciting to see Brittany and the new girls come into the organization and succeed. She has a poker face, but you could tell she was fitting in and felt like she was contributing. That type of thing is very rewarding to see.”
Thompson began playing hockey when she was 5 years old. Initially, the game frustrated her.
“I thought it was hard and weird that you had to use a stick,” she said. “Once I learned how to skate, I started to get better.”
The team steadily improved and won the Blackhawk Cup, in the Tier 2 Girls U-14 classification. In the state tournament, and at nationals, Thompson took on an increasing role during short-handed situations.
“She made a big progression and became one of our best penalty killers,” Newtown said. “She did what she was coached to do.”
Movin’ on up: Beginning this fall, the Falcons will field a U-19 team for the first time. Thompson and many of her teammates will constitute some of the younger players on the squad.
The Falcons typically draw from suburbs such as Highland Park, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Deerfield, Libertyville, Mundelein, Lake Villa and Lincolnshire.
The team’s play at the U-14 level helped facilitate the addition of a new team, in order for that group of girls to keep playing.
“We were building toward this, but their success helped give us the opportunity,” Newtown said. “We needed girls who had some success and wanted to keep going.”