It’s not uncommon for Minnesotans to lace up the skates as early as 4 years old. Some even at 3. And a few of us at the ripe age of 2.
But that doesn’t mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things. Just ask St. Cloud State goaltender Emma Polusny.
“I don’t think anyone should ever feel like it’s too late to start playing hockey,” said Polusny, a native of Mound. “I didn’t ask my parents to try hockey until I was 9, which to most Minnesotans seems kind of late.
“But for me, I think that because I was the one who said I wanted to play and that it was until after trying lots of other sports that I’m still playing hockey today and still love it just as much as the day I started.”
We caught up with the sophomore, who has earned some Team USA call-ups with her game-saving play.
MHJ: What’s the best part of being a goalie?
Emma Polusny: My favorite part about being a goalie is having the ability to change the game more than any other position. As a goalie you have the power to steal games with big-time saves and maybe get your team a win they may not have had without your performance. The pads are pretty cool though too.
MHJ: Why should kids try playing goalie?
Polusny: Strapping the pads on is fun for everyone and giving the goalie position a chance is an important part of hockey. Even if you decided goaltending isn’t for you, at least try the pads on before you make your decision. You might be surprised by how cool you feel in all the gear.
MHJ: 3-on-3 overtime debuts in the WCHA this year … yay or nay?
Polusny: Yay! 3-on-3 will make for more shots, more opportunities, and more fun for sure.
MHJ: How did you develop your athleticism?
Polusny: I think I was able to develop some of that athleticism by playing a lot of different sports growing up and spending a lot of time outside playing different games with friends.
MHJ: Is there someone you really look up to?
Polusny: I’m a big Serena Williams fan. I think she exemplifies everything I strive to be as an athlete and a person. She is a fearless competitor that has never been afraid to show her passion to the world. I think even greater than her success on the court has been her impact on women’s sports. She continues to break down barriers and show young girls that sport isn’t just for boys anymore.
Toughest player you’ve faced: Hilary Knight
Good luck charm: First shutout puck I keep in my locker
Pregame music: Anything from Kygo or Avicii
Dream job: Campaign manager for a major politician
Best place to eat in St. Cloud: The Pickled Loon
MHJ: What did it mean to be a part of the first Mound Westonka teams to make it to state?
Polusny: Some of my greatest memories playing hockey came from high school. I was part of the first team from Mound Westonka to make it to the state tournament when I was in eighth grade and then made it back to the tourney again in my senior year. Both times we had tremendous support from our school and community and I still remember the great student sections we had at our games. Knowing that I helped play a part in getting my hometown to the state tournament will always be one of my greatest memories.
MHJ: What was the coolest part about being a part of Team USA last season?
Polusny: Getting to be in the same locker room as some of the players I watched and idolized growing up. I still remember watching Gigi Marvin’s Old Dutch Potato Chip commercial in between Wild game periods and thinking she was so cool. Getting to meet her, let alone play on the same team as her was pretty amazing.
MHJ: Shout-out to any coaches?
Polusny: There are too many people I have to thank for helping me get to where I am today to list them all but there are a few that stand out to me. I can thank my first youth hockey coach, Franz Burris, for teaching me to love the game and as he would say when I seem him nowadays, “teaching you everything you know today.” I also can thank my long-time goalie coach Mitch Baker and his wife Becca for seeing potential in me. They spent countless hours with me in cold ice arenas teaching me the fundamentals I still rely on today and have no doubt been important to my development.
MHJ: Any tips or words of wisdom for youth hockey goalies out there?
Polusny: Never forget why you started playing hockey in the first place. Things will get harder as you get older, you might not make all the teams you try out for, and you will definitely let in goals you’ll want back. But as long as you never forget your love of the game you will always have a best friend in the game of hockey.