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NWHL All-Star Balances Hockey With Nursing School

By Kayla Francione

Cailey Hutchison began her hockey journey when she was 10 years old growing up on Long Island, about a two hour drive from the central New Jersey rink where she now plays for the Metropolitan Riveters in the National Women’s Hockey League.

Like most other professional women’s hockey players in the U.S., Hutchison — a forward and assistant captain for the Riveters — hockey isn’t her only focus. She splits her time between New Jersey and Long Island, where she is studying at Stony Brook University to be a pediatric hematology oncology nurse, focusing on children with cancer and rare blood diseases.

Hutchison said that, on days where she has a clinical shift, she wakes up around 4:30 a.m. to work out at home before driving an hour to school, where her 12-hour shift starts at 7 a.m. When she finishes that, she rushes over to New Jersey (more than a two-hour drive) for an 8:30 p.m. practice. After practice, she drives straight home, she said.

Despite her hectic schedule, Hutchison still finds time to coach girls youth hockey. She and her best friend Ashley Wade founded the Wade Warriors in 2016 — a spring and summer program that brings in top girls players from around the country to compete in high-level showcases.

“When I had midterms or finals last year, I would be rushing to the rink and have to sit out of a workout because I really needed to study and had tests at 8 a.m. the next day. Those weeks and those test days were tough, definitely mentally draining,” she said. “When I have those moments I just remember I’m not doing this for myself. It’s for the little girls that I coach that look up to me so much that come in wearing my Riveter’s jersey to practices or to games.” 

Hutchison said playing for the Riveters was her biggest goal after playing for four years at the University of Maine. She just finished her second season, which was played in a bubble in Lake Placid — a place Hutchison describes as her “favorite place in the entire world.”

“I just fell in love with hockey there and found myself as a person and player. To be able to go back and play on my home rink one more time wearing a professional jersey meant the world to me.” 

The Riveters were forced to abandon the season after just three games because of COVID-19, but Hutchison managed to make an impact in that short time, tallying a goal and a block. That followed her impressive debut season where she scored three goals and notched eight assists, and was selected for the 2020 NWHL All-Star Game as a rookie.

Hutchinson hopes her two career paths will one day align — one of her goals is to create a foundation through the NWHL that allows players to visit children in the hospital to brighten their days.

“I like to lead by example,” Hutchison said about her role on the team. “Doing all the things that I do, I still show up to every practice and give 100 percent of my effort, regardless of what just happened with one of my patients in the hospital or things that are going on with my family. I think I just really encompass the dedication you need to be a professional hockey player.” 

Photo Credit: Photos by Kate Freese and courtesy of Cailey Hutchinson

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