All week in Östersund, the staff and players talked about the bond the team had created. Lachapelle said when the roster was announced, the players immediately formed a group chat and began to get to know one another. When the team finally gathered, the staff was impressed to see players going out of their way to get to know one another. Several of the players on this year’s roster play together in prep or club programs, but they did not stick to the comfort of their own groups.
“They made a conscious effort to not sit with each other at meals and little things like that to make sure that they were getting to know everybody right away,” said Lachapelle.
“The one thing you always hope for is your team to make sure they’re bonding well together as a group and the other thing is to improve,” she added. “We felt like we made progress every single day, and now they get to walk away with a bronze medal, which we’re really grateful for. It is a great accomplishment. But the memories that they’re going to have from these two weeks are just going to be something that they can have forever.”
For many of the skaters, this was their first major international competition and their first opportunity to represent their country at that level. There were setbacks, but being able to lean on and count on each other helped them push through and end the tournament with a win.
“We just had to lean into each other and lean into our coaches,” said team captain Joy Dunne. “It’s not the outcome we wanted, but we still knew we wanted [the bronze medal], so we worked to the best of our ability and we knew we needed to have a team-first mindset to be able to do that. It takes a team. It takes all of us to buy in and do it. We did that today and we showed our character today after that loss.”
The players on this team were bonded together and the relationship was cemented through adversity. Their closeness will help them to be able to process the loss, but also to learn and grow from it.
Defender Molly Jordan (Berlin, Conn.), who was named to the Media All-Star Team, knows her time with the U18 team has come to an end. This exact roster of players is unlikely to play together ever again, but she said the shared experience of battling through and earning bronze is something that will motivate them all through the rest of their careers.