Rebecca Russo is a professional women’s ice hockey player for the Metropolitan Riveters. A former Boston University athlete, Russo has made a name for herself the NWHL All-Star League. Although her career has just begun, The Ice Garden has listed her as one of the “top 10 players to watch in the NWHL. Rebecca won a national U19 Championship at Shattuck St. Mary’s. In her first season with the NWHL, she was chosen to play in the 2017 All-Star Game.
We talked to Rebecca about her recruiting experience, illustrious athletic career, and opinion on LRT Sports.
LRT Sports: Why ice hockey?
Rebecca: “I started playing hockey at the age of three. I have an older brother, Brandon who was my role model as he was a hockey player himself. My parents put him into hockey around the age of three, and I then followed on figure skates and then I moved to hockey skates. I instantly fell in love with the sport, and now, 22 years later, it still plays a huge role in my life, which I am so blessed to be still playing the game I love. My parents and family played a huge role in my hockey career, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without the love and support from my mom, dad, and brother!”
LRT Sports: Did anyone else in your family play hockey?
Rebecca: “My brother played hockey, and I wanted to be just like him as a little girl. He was one of the greatest defensemen in New England, so to have him as a brother and my role model, played a huge part in the success I have had and continue to have. My brother, along with my entire family, taught me so much and continues to critique and give me the best advice I need after all my games to become better every day as a hockey player.”
LRT Sports: Did you ever think you would have the chance to play professional hockey?
Rebecca: “I always dreamt of playing professional hockey, and during my entire career, the only future was the NHL, as that was the only professional hockey league around. Four years later, the NWHL was created, and we women had a future and now all the little girls playing hockey have us, women, as role models, not just the men in the NHL to look up to.”
LRT Sports: Why Boston University?
Rebecca: “I visited tons of schools, and a lot of schools were interested in me as a player. When I visited Boston University with my dad, I instantly fell in love with it. I have always been a city girl, and when I stepped foot in Walter Brown Arena, I couldn’t say no. Only a handful of women college hockey programs have their own rink, so it made it that much more special and amazing and really helped me decide where I wanted to go for college. The city, the coaches, and the school brought so much to the table, so it was hard to say no… BU was the perfect fit for me as a person and a player. I then committed December 1st, 2010…one of the biggest decisions in my life, which is a day I will never forget!”
LRT Sports: What was your relationship like with your college coach?
Rebecca: “I had great relationships with all three of my coaches, especially my head coach, Brian Durocher. He was an incredible person who was a great friend to me while I was in college and still is three years post-grad. If I ever needed anything, he was there for me and still is to this day. It is so important to be close with your coaches and to have a great relationship with them both on and off the ice. They are always there to help guide me in all the right directions both on the ice, in the classroom, and in the real world, giving all the necessary life tools to succeed.”
LRT Sports: What was your recruiting process like?
Rebecca: “My recruiting process was smooth and unforgettable. Coach Durocher showed interest in me during my USA hockey camps. I then filled out a questionnaire to all colleges that showed interest and began my college recruitment process. From there, I went on a visit to Boston University and from that moment on… I was a terrier. I did go on plenty of other visits to other schools to see what those campuses were like and what they, as schools and hockey programs, had to offer. The overall experience of being recruited to college was amazing, and I wish I could do it all over again. I am so excited for all the younger girls starting their process!”
LRT Sports: What is the best piece of advice you can offer a student-athlete going through the recruiting process?
Rebecca: “My advice would be to take it all in and to keep all your options open. You might have a dream of where you want to go as a little girl, but as you get older, things change, and your mind might change when you step foot on a campus. It is an exciting time of someone’s life so do as many tours as you can, meet as many people as you can, and you will know right away which school the perfect fit is.”
LRT Sports: What is it like to play for the Metropolitan Riveters?
Rebecca: “It’s incredible – I am a professional athlete, what’s better than that? I have achieved all my goals and have reached the highest level possible of women’s hockey. Every day, I am playing with and against the best hockey players in the world. I have been a part of history since my first season as a Riveter, and I can’t wait to continue paving the way for all future generations, so they can hopefully be just like me one day, a professional women’s ice hockey player.”
LRT Sports: What was the transition like between playing hockey vs. playing in college? What about between college hockey and professional hockey?
Rebecca: “It was a smooth and an easy transition playing at Boston University and then in the NWHL. You are playing against the best players in the world. I have been playing with or against a handful of these girls in the NWHL, so it is fun getting to play them again and seeing those familiar faces on the ice.”
LRT: How close are you with your teammates?
Rebecca: “I am very close with my teammates. I have had the pleasure of meeting and playing with so many women since I started playing hockey and to cross paths with girls I have been on youth hockey teams with (Mid Fairfield- Miye D’Oench), boarding school teams with (Shattuck – Courtney Burke) is fun that we have reached this point together. It is also fun getting to meet other people from different colleges and programs and play with those talented women too.”
LRT Sports: How important is a good team dynamic?
Rebecca: “I believe the team dynamic is the most important thing for any sports team. If you don’t have a good team dynamic, you will not be as successful versus a team with better chemistry/overall team dynamic. It would help if you built that team dynamic up to be successful during games. Last season (2017/2018), we had one of the greatest team cultures, and it showed as we went undefeated for most of the season and then went on to win the championship.”
LRT Sports: Do you have any funny pre-game rituals?
Rebecca: “I used to be very superstitious when it came to my hockey pre-game rituals, but now I am much more relaxed and just like to have fun before each game. I love to dance in the locker room and play soccer with my team. I announce the starting line up for each game in a funny way which gets the team laughing and in a great mood. I like to lighten the mood up as much as I can because I think we play our best hockey relaxed and most importantly, when we are all having fun.”
LRT Sports: If you could meet one famous hockey player, past or present, who would it be and why?
Rebecca: “I have had the pleasure of meeting so many professional hockey players both past and present due to my dad being so involved in hockey from my youth hockey days. I also have had the opportunity to work out with many professional guys at my gym back in Connecticut. They are incredible role models in the gym. I have always wanted to meet Connor McDavid as he is one of the greatest players I have ever seen play the game. I am very fast myself but would love for him to teach me a few things to maybe up my speed even more!”
LRT Sports: Do you think LRT Sports could have helped you in the recruiting process? Why?
Rebecca: “Looking back on it I think I educated myself with the help of my family and others around me on everything I need to know regarding women’s college hockey. I made a chart way back when during the process of all of this with every college I had in mind, whether I filled out a questionnaire if I visited, and many more categories to help make my decision. I do believe that if you are not educated on everything during your college process that could alter your decision, so LRT Sports can help those in their college hockey process in a positive way.”
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.