While most incoming freshmen athletes face the college transition on their own, Ontario natives Lisa Steffes and Ally Tarr will find themselves taking on college together.
The 17-year-old teammates signed letters of intent back in December to play hockey for Ohio State come fall 2010.
For the past two years the duo has played on the same club hockey team, the Bluewater Junior Hawks, and they attended Team Canada’s Strength and Conditioning Camp in April 2009.
In July, both participated in Team Canada’s selection camp. Both are current representatives of Team Ontario Red for the ‘09-’10 National Women’s Under-18 Team. It seems like, in all things hockey, the two are cosmically destined to be teammates.
When considering OSU, both girls agreed the appeal of the coaching staff played a large role in their decisions.
“I really love the coaches and everything with the facilities,” said Tarr, a 5-foot-5-inch forward. “[The coaches] really want you to succeed.”
Steffes said the decision to attend OSU wasn’t difficult to make.
“You could tell [the coaches] had heart and they wanted to win,” she said. “They persuaded me pretty easily.”
While making friends is important to each girl, both find reassurance in having an established pal nearby.
“Well, it’s obviously very comforting knowing that there’s someone there that supports you no matter what,” Steffes said. “We’re already friends and we’ve already been through so much together. I’m happy that [Tarr’s] going to be there.”
At the age of 8, Steffes started playing hockey because she wanted to be like her brother. Originally she figure skated, but hockey appealed to her more.
“It’s a fast game and I’m into fast moving things,” Steffes said. “It’s very exciting and unpredictable. I think that’s why I probably stuck with it.”
During her college visit, OSU had a lot to offer: top-notch programs, multi-million dollar facilities and the opportunities of a large campus with a close-knit community.
“They offered the best. They [have] every possible thing I need,” Steffes said. “A nutritionist, a sports psychologist — all the resources I need to improve my game.”
What she looks forward to most is the new and unknown.
“I’m ready just to start off something new,” Steffes said. “I have no idea what to expect, so it’s just going to be an adventure.”
At the age of five, Tarr started playing hockey and immediately fell in love with the competitive nature and team dynamic of the sport.
Outside of hockey, Tarr likes what OSU offers in the classroom and the academic support system set up for athletes.
She is most excited about coming to a new place and learning all that OSU has to offer.
“The experience of just being there, it’s such a great school for everything — sports, academics — I’m just really excited about everything,” Tarr said.
Having a friend and teammate she respects and admires by her side won’t hurt either.
“I’m really excited about that because I’ll be meeting new people, but at the same time [Steffes will] be there,” Tarr said. “It’s going to be exciting because [we] know each other… [we’ll be] able to help each other out.”
For coach Jackie Barto and assistant coach Catherine Hanson, obtaining two girls from the same team was unintentional.
“I think it’s a positive [situation], and it just worked out that both of them decided to be Buckeyes,” Barto said. “We’re extremely happy about that.”
Barto said Steffes is an outstanding athlete and foresees her competing for quality minutes in goal based on her competitive edge and work ethic.
“She’s a very mobile and athletic goaltender,” Barto said. “[Lisa] moves in the crease very well, has a very good presence, and she’s always square to the puck.”
Barto sees Tarr’s ability to find the back of the net and create offensive plays as a benefit to the team.
“I think what separates [Ally] from other kids is her knack for scoring. She has those tools and gifts, abilities with the puck that are very hard to teach,” Barto said. “Those kids are far and few between… [and] that’s what we saw in Ally.”
Even with all of the benefits of Steffes’ and Tarr’s experiences together, Barto believes their individual identities should not be forgotten.
“They’re going to learn and develop in their own individual ways, both academically and athletically,” Barto said. “They’ll support each other but grow as individuals. And that’s positive.”