We sat down with Elena Orlando, forward for the Connecticut Whalers in the NWHL. Elena was a dual sport DI athlete at Quinnipiac University. She played ice hockey and rugby for QU and then took her skills on the ice overseas to Sweden where she played internationally for a year until the finalization of the professional women’s ice hockey league back in the US and hasn’t looked back since.
What was your first reaction when you found out that you were going to be playing in a newly established league as a professional?
I was extremely excited. It had always been a dream to play professional hockey but there was no league. When the NWHL was announced, I knew it was something I wanted to be part of.
How was the transition from NCAA hockey to NWHL, was it difficult or easy?
In the NCAA, you play with and against some great players and teams. In the NWHL everyone is like that. The speed and skill is top-notch and you’re playing against the best of the best each game. So it takes some adjustment.
Did your school help you in the drafting/tryout and signing process?
I was actually a year out of playing collegiate hockey so I did the process on my own.
Did you always think or want a professional career following your college years? Did you ever think that you would be able to follow those professional aspirations in the U.S.?
Yeah, I definitely did. At the end of my college career the NWHL hadn’t been announced, so people who wanted to continuing playing had few options. I chose to go overseas and play in Sweden for a bit. I thought I was going to retire after that but then the league was announced and suddenly I had the opportunity to play in the US and get paid for it.
Do you think that your choice in the right school in Quinnipiac University had anything to do with you now playing in the professional league? If so, how?
I believe Quinnipiac set me up for success in the league. The coaches really pushed us to be better players and encouraged the competitive nature which is important when you are playing with and against some of the best players in the world. The proof of that is how many QU alum are in the league.
What advice can you give to high school athletes about the recruiting process?
I think the main thing is to figure out what you want out of a school. You’re spending four years there so it’s important to understand what you want not only athletically but academically. You should also do your research and understand what the team and coaches are like to see if it’ll be a good fit. Exploring all your options is another big thing. Even if you go on a visit and think that is where you want to go, don’t skip out on other visits because those places might surprise you.
What is the most important piece of advice that you can give student-athletes on how to play at the next level?
As cliché as it sounds, hard work is going to get you places. In high school, natural talent helps people stand out and get recruited to college. Once you get to college and you’re playing with more skilled people, hard work and continuing to work on your skills is what is going to set you above everyone else.
You May Also Like:
Photo from todaysslapshot.com
Posted on November 4, 2016 in Half Time Talk
When doing research in the recruiting process for my daughter I came across the LRT Sports website. I was immediately intrigued as this was another dimension of the recruiting process that many people don't even consider. My daughter and I could "short list" schools based on the education she was looking for, as well as the opportunity to play her sport. LRT Sports not only gave us pertinent information into the recruiting process with different interviews of coaches and players, it also gave us insight into current and/or former players' opinions on the coach of that school in her sport. We could use this information to re-prioritize my daughters list of schools based on this feedback. I have many friends that are, or will be, going through this process shortly and I highly recommend using LRT Sports as part of anyone's recruiting process.
The college process presents a myriad of challenges. Factor in athletics and it becomes even more daunting. Now, add the fact that you have zero experience with sports. What is a the mother of a college bound student-athlete to do? LRT Sports has truly lived up to its promise. It has kept "the college recruiting process honest and easy by providing first hand information about coaches, schools and the recruiting process." Their interviews with current students, coaches, and professional athletes have provided realistic guidance. I am much more informed because of LRT Sports! The coach ratings are the most helpful. LRT Sports interviews allow us to hear from students as to how the adults are impacting not only their athletic experience but also how they are helping to shape their adult self.
The C.A.L.C. was thrilled to have Keirsten Sires come and speak to us on multiple topics relevant to high school athletics today, including recruiting. Keirsten reached all of our students and left them with great strategies that will not only help on the fields, courts, and mats, but also in the game of recruiting. She was a true professional and delivered a wonderful message.
Now that the recruiting process and the related stress is over, I wanted to thank you for your guidance. You did so much more than we had expected. Once you started the process by matching the best academic schools first, not the best sport programs, I knew you were the one. The way you laid out a timeline of contacting coaches, visits, and camps completely took any guesswork out of the plan for us. All of the student athletes that you put us in touch with gave us a look from the inside, and made us more comfortable knowing what was coming. Finally, using your website as a resource for knowing what to expect from different coaches based on former recruit reviews gave my son confidence before our meetings. There is no way we could have figured this out on our own, you really put us in a great position when decision time came.
I think hearing from other athletes is very beneficial. To be able to learn from people’s mistakes, and to be able to have access to those voices is really helpful; especially voices that have been there and done that. It’s very important for people to have access to information that could benefit them, and in this case there are many voices that can help the next wave of athletes.
If you have something that’s going to spell [the recruiting process] out for you… it’s so valuable. I think what everyone at LRT Sports is doing to spread the word and help advocate and educate athletes on the recruitment process is incredible.
Without question would have used LRT Sports. It would have probably been one of the most valuable tools that I could have had. If you want to know what these coaches are really like then I think this is the best tool out there. I’m really glad you are allowing recruits to have a resource like this moving forward.