In order to ensure a full roster for training, scrimmages and drills, US National Team coach Ken Klee invited four women from the U-18 team to train with the senior squad in Chicago last week.
Badger recruit Presley Norby was one of those players. Though their proximity to Chicago and ability to miss school played into who was invited, ultimately Norby and three other members of the U-18 squad were brought in to learn what day-to-day life was for the older players.
Not only did the U-18's get the opportunity to play on the ice with the senior team, but they also saw strength training, routines and meals. Now these younger players can take all they saw and learned and apply it with the U-18 team.
It's an honor for Norby and speaks to the leadership USA Hockey thinks she shows with her teammates.
Norby was teamed on a line with former Badgers Hilary Knight and Brianna Decker.
"Being a young kid, I tried to put her in a good situation, to put her with Hilary Knight and Brianna Decker - some would argue you can’t get a better situation than that. She played great. She played hard. We were real excited. It was obviously a big step for her with USA Hockey," said Klee.
"She’s been tremendous. Obviously she has great speed. I think more than just speed, she’s got an awareness of what’s going on."
The U-18 national program is a newer development for Team USA. Former Badger and senior team goalie Jessie Vetter is 29 and there was not a U-18 team when she was that age. She said that with the U-18's playing with the senior squad, the other players were talking about how many U-18 tournaments they'd all played in and Vetter had to point out she never got the opportunity.
But Decker, just a few years younger, said she felt she could see and appreciate the experience Norby and the U-18's were having as it was one she herself had at their age.
"I’ve been really, really impressed with them. Their skill level on the ice, how they handle themselves off the ice, it’s been good to see the future of our program," Decker said.
But it was Norby in particular that Decker was excited about. A dedicated and vocal Badger alum, Decker couldn't help adding, "You know what, you wouldn’t have even thought she was a U-18’er out there in last night’s game. Playing with her, me Knighter and her, was awesome. She moves the puck really well, very skilled and I’m glad that she’s going to Wisconsin. "