Black Sheep Of the Family
By Christopher Tremblay
Norwood’s Michaela Reen grew up in a family of basketball players, many who went on to play for Norwood High School. In addition to playing basketball, however, when she was young she was placed in a learn to skate program and found that she enjoyed being on the ice; eventually that ice time evolved into hockey.
The time came when she entered high school where she had to make a decision on which sport she would continue to play. Everyone assumed that she would follow in her family’s footsteps and play basketball, but the younger Reen had different thoughts.
“In 8th grade, I had to make a decision, hockey or basketball,” Reen recalled. “I chose hockey as I had a completely different feeling playing the sport. The skills, drills, excitement, and that team atmosphere.”
According to Reen, her family fully supported her decision to play hockey, but continually joked about it. While her family may have been making fun of her decision, she knows deep down inside they understood her passion for the sport.
“Coming from a basketball family and she is the only one playing hockey, she is considered the black sheep of the family,” Norwood Coach Tim Coskren said. “But we are extremely glad to have her on our team.”
Reen not only found that the sport just seemed to click for her, she was also having fun playing it. It was something that she really enjoyed and looked forward to lacing up her skates and gliding onto the ice. With all the enjoyment and pleasure she felt playing hockey, she could see no reason to give it up.
When she realized that she had a chance to be something special on the ice, she joined the Spitfires, her first club team. Lately, she has been playing for the Boston Junior Huskies out of Canton.
The senior center reflects on how she came upon playing the position.
“It’s something that the coaches assigned to me,” Reen said. “I found that I like the position and enjoy going anywhere on the ice, playing defense or offense. Offense for sure is better as I can create plays, movement of the puck up and down the ice and scoring.”
Like most freshman taking on a high school sport, she found the tryouts intimidating as no one knew who she was before stepping onto the ice. Once she did and started to practice, however, her confidence and skills came out and soon after she was welcomed to the team.
“It was tough at first trying to find my grove and fit in with the team, but after that first game I seemed to settle in with my linemates Morgan Roache and Jenna Nauman,” Reen said. “We’ve played together for the last three years, and we had a lot of fun as well as working well together; knowing where each other was on the ice.”
Unfortunately for Reen and her teammates, her first season happened to be the year of Covid, and the pandemic made things a little difficult as the athletes had to wear masks. Hockey players not only had to wear a mask, but they wore it under their helmet causing them to be a sweaty mess. Reen recalls it was not fun at first, but eventually learned to adjust.
“With Covid, there was no tournament that year, that was tough to deal with,” Reen said. “But as a freshman playing in my first high school season, I was pleased with my playing time and I actually scored one goal that year.”
With the inability to participate in the post-season thanks to the pandemic, Reen worked extremely hard in the off-season with her club team hoping to improve her endurance and also worked on her shooting.
When her sophomore season did get underway, she fell that she had improved, but unfortunately broke her wrist early in the season and was forced to watch the majority of the year from the bench.
“I fell into the boards with another girl and felt a lot of pain, so I skated off the ice and over to our trainer,” Reen said. “He took one look at it and knew that it was not good.”
While Reen was dealing with physical therapy, she found it difficult not being able to get on the ice with her teammates and take part in the games.
“I was really looking forward to that season,” Reen said. “Not being able to play I did what I could with the team, workouts and skills as long as I was not using my wrist. I wanted to be ready for when I was cleared to go back and didn’t want to find myself too far behind.”
In addition to not being able to play most of the season, Reen had a hard time watching her two linemates take to the ice with another center between them. She was glad, however, they were able to have success without her.
“Being an every day player who could do a bit of everything for the team, I know that she was disappointed when she broke her wrist,” Coskren said. “We could have really used her on the ice that year.”
Last year, Reen was named assistant captain, and this season she will move up a notch to captain. This will hold her accountable for her actions on the ice and pushes her to put forth her best effort.
“She is an intense, but smart player,” the Norwood Coach said. “The girls look up to her, and although she is quiet, she leads by example.”
As Reen gets ready to enjoy her final campaign for the Mustangs, she is hoping that the team can once again put forth a good season with another invitation to the State Tournament where she is looking to go further than the past few seasons.
“The entire team is more excited to start the season already,” Reen said. “Myself, I am so ready to begin. I’ve worked really hard over the past few seasons with my club team and am looking to play my best hockey for Norwood.”
While she is more than anxious to get back onto the ice for the Mustangs, the big question, who will be on the line with her.
“I’m not sure who I’ll be playing with, but we’ll make it work,” Reen said. “I’m big on assists, but I always want to score and be able to contribute to the team’s success.”
Following this season, Reen will begin considering playing hockey on the collegiate level.