Caitlin Hewes was a three-sport athlete at Stillwater, but intends to focus on hockey while at the University of Connecticut. Star Tribune file photo
Caitlin Hewes excels in three sports. But make no mistake: There is no debate about which resides at the top of her list.
"Hockey has always been my No. 1," said Hewes, Stillwater's Athena Award winner and three-sport captain in hockey, cross-country and track and field.
A defenseman her whole career, Hewes started playing hockey with the boys when she was 5 years old. This fall, University of Connecticut women's coach Heather Linstad will work her in to the Huskies defensive corp.
Linstad and her coaching staff have been eyeing Hewes for a few years, scouting her at Minnesota Hockey festivals and high school games. Aside from her natural talent and hockey knowledge, Linstad was impressed at Hewes' improvement every time she saw her play.
"She's an athletic talent but she's also a very knowledgeable hockey player," Linstad said. "She's got the skill set that we're very comfortable feeling she's going to come in here and make a difference on our blue line for us."
After making the Ponies varsity squad as an eighth grader, Hewes knows all about having an impact. Girls' hockey coach Tony Scheid gave the talented defenseman a regular shift on the Ponies' 2007 state championship team that season.
Scheid called Hewes "irreplaceable" throughout her five-year varsity hockey tenure.
"She is the most explosive player we've coached," Scheid said. "Her speed, vision and Hockey IQ are off the charts."
She was already the team's top defenseman in 2009, when Stillwater won another state title. The Ponies took another run at it this year before being stifled by Roseville in the section semifinals.
"She had a chance to win three or four state championships, legitimately. She won two," Scheid said. "How many players do that? It's a pretty short list."
Hewes finished her senior season as the Ponies' third-leading scorer, averaging more than a point-per-game with nine goals and 23 assists in 26 contests. She received some WCHA interest and also visited Harvard and New Hampshire, but ultimately felt the best connection with Connecticut's high academic regard and coaching staff.
She will be joined by two other Minnesota high school standouts: Edina's Christie Brauer and Eastview's Emily Snodgrass.
"They seem really nice, so I'm really excited to have them out at school with me," Hewes said. "I think it will help with the transition because they kind of know where I'm coming from and what I have to go through, so I feel like they'll be able to help me out. I'm really happy there are some Minnesota girls out there."
An anxious Hewes will find new challenges in college, but balancing school and athletics is old hat. With a combined 16 seasons of service to Ponies varsity athletics -- six in cross-country and five in both hockey and track -- and an impressive GPA, it's safe to say Hewes' time management skills are above average.
Currently in a couple summer hockey programs, Hewes is trying to stay ahead of the game by competing with other Division I players. The Huskies season doesn't start until Sept. 23, but she's wasting no time.
"I'm getting all kinds of reports that her game is picking up, which is scary," Scheid said. "She's not even near her potential."
|Shelby Amsley-Benzie||Warroad||G||North Dakota||Yes|
|Amanda Arbogast||Eveleth-Gilbert||F||St. Cloud State||Yes|
|Rachael Bona||Coon Rapids||F||Minnesota||Yes|
|Jordyn Burns||Benilde-St. Margaret's||D||Syracuse||Yes|
|Alex Citrowske||Prior Lake||F||Bemidji St.||Yes|
|Julie Friend||Minnetonka||G||St. Cloud State||Yes|
|Morgan Fritz-Ward||Lakeville South||F||Quinnipac||Yes|
|Kalli Funk||Cretin-Derham Hall||F||Niagara||Yes|
|Audrey Hanmer||Forest Lake||D||St. Cloud State||Yes|
|Casey Hirsch||Maple Grove||F||Syracuse||Yes|
|Morgan Illikainen||Grand Rapids||D||Dartmouth||Yes|
|Leah Jensen||East Grand Forks||F||North Dakota||Yes|
|Shannon Kaiser||Crookston||F||North Dakota||Yes|
|Rachael Kelly||Rosemount||F||Bemidji St.||Yes|
|Taylor Kuehl||Mound-Westonka||F||Ohio State||Yes|
|Allie LaCombe||Eden Prairie||F||Syracuse||Yes|
|Chelsea Laden||Lakeville South||G||Quinnipac||Yes|
|Margo Lund||Hill-Murray||F||St. Lawrence||Yes|
|Layla Marvin||Warroad||F||North Dakota||Yes|
|Delaney Middlebrook||St. Paul United||D||Niagara||Yes|
|Sam Moore||Lakeville South||F||Lindenwood||Yes|
|Kayla Mork||Breck||F||New Hampshire||Yes|
|Abby Ness||Roseau||F||St. Cloud State||Yes|
|Mara Post||Lakeville South||F||Lindenwood||Yes|
|Tiana Press||Benilde-St. Maragret's||G||Harvard||Yes|
|Jessie Ryan||Cloquet-Esko-Carlton||F||New Hampshire||Yes|
|Shyler Sletta||New Prague||G||Minnesota||Yes|
|Natalie Stoltz||Mounds View||F||Mankato State||Yes|