Gushurst shows she’s a quick study on the ice
Lake Barrington-02/24/13, Sun./Barrington Ice Arena #6 Nicole Gushurst, of Fenwick in game play vs. Barrington Sunday night. | Joe Shuman~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 8, 2013 6:06AM
BENSENVILLE — Unlike most high school hockey players, Fenwick forward Nikki Gushurst didn’t learn to lace up her hockey skates at he same age she learned to tie her shoes.
A senior on the Friars girls hockey team, this is the first year she’s put on pads and taken the ice.
“I decided it was my senior year and to just do it,” she said. “What else am I going to do? I’ve always loved hockey and now I have the time to play.”
It was a rough start but it’s difficult to tell this is her first year. She fits in well and keeps up with the team, but it wasn’t always like that.
“The first few practices I was just learning how to skate,” she said. “I felt like quitting all the time. I was just so frustrated but I had already invested a lot of time in it. I still have to work on not falling down all the time and (my teammates) are really good and I don’t feel like I’m quite there yet, but I love it and I’m going to continue to work hard.”
That love for the game and for her team has pushed her to continue and there’s definitely support among the Friars.
“The change from when she first started is amazing,” said teammate Michaela Monaco. “She is so much better. We couldn’t believe, even the other day, how she’s flying out there and uses her body. She just threw her body at someone — no fear. She’s up to our level for sure, she’s been at every practice and works as hard as she can.”
“After the first practice, I was nervous that she wasn’t going to come back out,” said Fenwick head coach Mason Strom. “We started the season on the slower wide, working on skating and skills and my assistants worked indvidiually with her the first four or five practices and she really picked it up. She understands the game, which really isn’t something you can teach. She just gets it. She’s there.”
Gushurst has three assists this season and is seeing some improvement in her play.
“I feel like I’ve been keeping up with them,” she said. “They help me a lot and they got me to a level where I can actually play with them instead of lollygagging behind them.”
“This is great for her,” said team manager Bruce Azuma. “It’s amazing what she’s done and how hard she’s worked to get here.”
Gushurst has been admitted to Lake Forest College and hopes to continue playing hockey there or at a club level after this season.