Local youth hockey goalie turning heads
Posted July 18, 2013
In a male-dominated sport a few heads always turn when Athens Drive rising freshman Cameron Leonard circles the crease.
"You always get the other team saying, 'oh, it's a girl,'" laughed USA Women's Hockey National Select Camp Invitee, Cameron Leonard.
But that doesn't bother Leonard, in fact it does quite the opposite.
"I'm going to beat 'em, it doesn't matter!" said Leonard.
Leonard fell in love with the game at wee age of five but at ten years old, she knew she found her niche in net.
"It was kind of hard playing with the boys, I was always kind of younger and not very good," Leonard recalled. "But when I started playing goalie, it all clicked, and we started going to tournaments, started playing travel, and it was really, really fun."
"She's very coachable. She loves to work hard, she loves to pay attention, she loves to compete, and when she's out on the ice she just wants to do her best," said Leonard's goalie coach, Richard Shulmistra.
The 14-year-old's best earned her a trip to the heart of hockey country, Saint Cloud, Minnesota for this week's USA Women's Hockey National Select camp.
By wowing scouts in the Southeastern District Player Development tryouts back in May, she became just the second-ever goalie from the Tar Heel state to claim that honor.
"To be honest, I'd be surprised if she didn't get that opportunity," said Carolina Junior Hurricanes Director of Player Development, Colin Muldoon. "Just with the amount of effort she's put in and she's shown the talent to be able to play at that level."
"There's only going to be 11 other goalies at that camp, but you always want to see how you stack up," said Leonard. "Especially being from a region that's, kind of, not as great, I'm really nervous that they're going to be super amazing, but I'm excited!"
A giant step towards Leonard's ultimate goal: crouching between the pipes for a major D-1 college, or even the Olympic games.