Jodi Mckenna has been the head coach of the Wesleyan Women’s Ice Hockey program for 12 years. Mckenna played Division I ice hockey at Brown University, where she played in the first-ever women’s ice hockey national championship. Before coming to Wesleyan, Mckenna coached at St. Lawrence University, where she spent seven years as an assistant coach and her final as head coach. During her time at St. Lawrence, the team qualified for five national championships. As a strength and conditioning coach, she has developed and monitored St. Lawrence and Wesleyan’s training programs.
Coach Mckenna has been involved with the USA national team program as an assistant coach at the US National Team camps in June and December of 2008. In 2010, she took a leave of absence from Wesleyan to be an assistant coach for Team USA in the winter Olympics. From 2010 to 2014, she coached at multiple USA National team camps and mini-series against Canada. In the 2018-2019 season, she led her team to a victory over Middlebury College for the first time in program history, making the program record against the two 1-63-4. She remains head coach at Wesleyan, excited for the upcoming season.
LRT Sports: How and when should a high school student begin contacting you, and what do you prefer: email, phone, in-person visit?
LRT Sports: What advice do you have for rising seniors who have lost their ability to go to summer camps and showcases?
It’s ok; everyone is in the same boat. Most coaches are really diligent about being on the road in the fall and winter, so they likely will have seen you play. Have a video on hand. Not highlights. Preferably full shifts or games.
LRT Sports: What is unique about NESCAC hockey as opposed to other leagues and divisions?
Parity. NESCAC hockey is hard. The games are close every weekend. It is the best D3 league in the country because it has the least disparity, by far, from top to bottom. Versus other divisions… I’m not sure if people, even at the D1 level, how hard you have to work as a student and athlete, at the same time, at a NESCAC.
LRT Sports: What are the three qualities you look for in recruits?
LRT Sports: What is something that an athlete might do on a visit to campus or in an interaction with you that would cause you to stop recruiting her?
If someone looks bored, doesn’t ask any questions, plays with their hair while not making eye contact (true story), gets impatient or yells at their parents (has also happened), ditches their host on an overnight to party (yup, that too) – red flags.
LRT Sports: While watching a high school or club game, what might you see from a player that would cause you to lose interest?
Lack of effort away from the puck, lazy changes, bad body language if something goes wrong, bad interaction with the coach (doesn’t look at them when given feedback, for example), crazy yelling parents
LRT Sports: While recruiting, what is something a player might do on the ice that would immediately gage your interest?
Effort in every zone, steady/good body language, playing with head up with puck, understanding where to go to support puck, gritty defensive play, smooth skating, puck magnets (some kids just always end up around or with the puck most shifts, shows they’re smart players)
LRT Sports: Everyone knows how intense “hockey parents” can be. Can a player’s parent or parent’s impact how willing you are to recruit them?
Sometimes, at the very least, we will do more digging to determine if the player can be independent of a difficult parent.
LRT Sports: With gyms and rinks being closed at the moment, what advice would you give to high school athletes in terms of spring and summer training?
There are a lot of online resources to learn about at-home workouts and skills sessions. Do something to move the needle forward.
LRT Sports: What is the most defining characteristic of NESCAC-level women’s hockey?
Close games and you never know who will win, game in and game out.
LRT Sports: Is it better for a player to play in prep school or on a club team, or can they achieve the same level of exposure with both?
Either, it just has to fit and work for them – the amount of ice time, the coaching, and environment that allows them to grow and have fun.
LRT Sports: What camps and showcases should a player attend if they wish to play NESCAC hockey?
CDC, Rinksport, Middlebury camp – those seem to have a lot of NESCAC bound players in them, to name a few
LRT Sports: What is your favorite drill to run at a showcase or camp that you are working?
NZ race game for a small game or 3v2 NZ read and react (can see A LOT about a player in those drills)
LRT Sports: What is your favorite rink in the NESCAC, besides Wesleyan’s own Spurrier-Snyder?
Ugh. I guess if I have to choose one, it would be Conn. Kidding. I like Bowdoin’s rink.
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.