Each week during a home series OhioStateBuckeyes.com will interview a selected member of the women’s hockey team. This week get to know junior assistant captain Shannon Reilly. The defenseman from Chanhassen, Minn., discusses being the oldest of five, growing up in a typical Minnesota hockey family and what she learned from two Buckeye Olympians.
You are the oldest of five. Describe your family.
Well, I have three brothers and one sister – my sister is the baby. I have twin brothers that are seniors in high school and my other one is a sophomore. Every single one of us plays hockey. We’ve grown up with it, playing on the rink and everything.
What’s the age difference?
We are all two years apart in age and three years apart grade-wise.
So you were relatively close in age growing up, was there a lot of competition and fighting?
Yes, with my younger brother the most. I fought with him the most growing up, but not so much anymore since I’m older.
What are you like as the oldest?
I’m more of another mom figure to them. A lot. I still am. They come to me for advice, my brothers more. My sister is a little too young, but she looks up to me.
So you all grew up playing hockey?
Yes, we have a rink in our front yard. We flood it starting in November or December when it gets cold and we’ll skate on it all winter. Then in the summer we play roller hockey and go out there and shoot pucks.
How long did it take to construct the rink?
It took a while to build the whole rink with the boards and the netting behind it so that if we shoot over it, we don’t hit the house or anything. We started building it right when we moved into the house.
And your dad grew up playing college hockey?
He played two years at Colorado College and then he played two years for the Gophers. Then he played in the minor leagues for a bit, but then stopped after that.
Are your brothers going to play college hockey?
They haven’t officially signed with Minnesota yet. The twins are going to Sioux Falls (to play in the USHL) next year and hopefully the year after that, in 2011, they will go play for the Gophers.
You guys are kind of the classic Minnesota family where everyone plays hockey.
We lived at the rink. My parents still do now. It was a part of everything. Our lives revolved around it. My mom comes from a hockey family too, but she never played. She would go to a bunch of games. She skated a little bit, but would always get injured.
So you don’t get your grace on the skates from your mom?
What positions are your brothers?
The twins are forwards and the younger brother is a defenseman. And my sister is a forward.
Where do your brothers play now?
They are at Holy Angels (in Richfield, Minn.). They are all playing on the same team again this year. I saw them play two games over Christmas break and that’s about it.
Speaking of learning from others, when you were a freshman here you were playing with Lisa Chesson and Tessa Bonhomme who are now both about to play in their first Olympics. What was it like being teammates with them?
It was so fun playing with them and I learned so much. It was sad to only be with them one year here. I wish they were around longer because I learned so much from them as far as their play, their leadership styles and everything. I took a lot out of hockey and how to develop as a player from the two of them.
We knew Tessa would likely be in the running for the Olympics again, but are you excited to see the success that Chesson has had?
I thought her senior year she had a really good year. I always thought she was a really good player. When we played her my sophomore year (in an exhibition game vs. the U.S. National Team), she had developed a ton as a player and I knew that she would probably make the team.
So you’re looking forward to watching the Olympics then?
It’s definitely really cool. I’m very happy for both of them that they made their Olympic teams.
Did you learn anything from them leadership-wise that you can look back on now that you’re an assistant captain?
I learned a lot from Tessa. She was always a person that if you were struggling with anything, you could go and talk to her. I want people to feel like if they want to talk about something then they can come to me. Knowing that a lot of people look up to you too kind of taught me that I’m always being watched when I’m in a leadership role.
Being the oldest of five and saying you have a “mothering” instinct, do you find that carries over with the team?
Yes, we joke about that a lot with my roommates. They always call me “mom.” I get on them about cleaning the house and make sure they can get a ride if they need it, or let them borrow my car. Just keep everyone in line.
What is your favorite warm-up song before a game?
Right now, I would say “Smokey Mountain Memories” from David Archuleta. I’m really into alternative music and metal right now. It’s new to me, but I like it.
Is there any story behind your number, 9?
I’ve been number 9 my whole life playing hockey. One of my brothers wears number 9 too. I’ve always worn it and stuck with it.
Do you have any superstitions?
No, not really. I’m not superstitious about many things, but I definitely have my routines before a game.
What do you do pregame to get ready?
I get dressed and hang out. Then I stick-handle before every game with my heavy medal stick and this egg-shaped ball. Then the warm up with the team. I use this special kind of clear type – that’s probably my biggest thing. That’s about it.
Who has had the biggest influence on your hockey career?
I would have to say my family. Every single one has contributed to some part to where I am today. I would say my brothers a lot. I look up to them even though they’re younger. Their style of play and they are probably the three hardest workers I’ve ever met. They’ve been motivational to me. My parents have been the biggest supporters of mine; they have helped me develop and become the player I am. They have always put the time and effort into everything that I’ve always done. I’m very thankful for my parents.