She may be one of the smallest players on the team, but junior forward Sarah Wolf brings grit and energy to the Plattsburgh State women’s hockey team.
After a pair of ACL tears delayed her college hockey career by a year, Wolf works to earn every minute of ice time she can get.
Wolf’s hockey journey began when she was only 3 years old. Inspired by their mother’s love for hockey, which she had developed during her time studying at former PSUC hockey rival RIT, Wolf’s older brother Justin started playing hockey and she tagged along.
“His coach always let me skate with them,” Sarah Wolf said
When Wolf decided to play, her mother, Tracy Wolf, gave her full support.
“At that time, there were not a lot of girls, so she played boys’ hockey,” Tracy Wolf said. “I thought it was great.”
Sarah Wolf played in a Canadian youth league, which meant her mother was the driver for long road trips every weekend during hockey season.
Sarah Wolf also enjoyed playing lacrosse until her freshman year of high school, when an accident during practice led to her first ACL tear. Sarah Wolf quit lacrosse at that point to focus on hockey.
In her junior year of high school, Sarah Wolf left home to play for the Boston Shamrocks, where she met current PSUC goaltender Kassi Abbott. They both committed to PSUC for the 2015-16 school year, and continue to be good friends.
“I actually didn’t know that we were both committing at Plattsburgh,” Abbott said. “We didn’t talk about it at all.”
While Abbott kept her commitment to join the Cardinals in 2015, Wolf’s arrival was delayed by a season by an ACL tear in the other knee during that summer.
“It was difficult,” Sarah Wolf said. “But the athletic training team helped me a lot, the coaches helped me a lot and the team was great when I came back.”
After that second major sports injury, Tracy Wolf made the difficult decision to try to convince her daughter to turn away from sports. She was obviously unsuccessful.
“I think after the second ACL, it broke my heart,” Tracy Wolf said. “I said to her, ‘is it really worth it?’ But when I saw how hard she worked at rehab, I knew she wasn’t going to give it up.”
Sarah Wolf’s effort to get back into the game wasn’t a surprise for Tracy Wolf. She had always seen her daughter as a very driven individual.
“Sarah doesn’t back down from a fight,” Tracy Wolf said. “She’s a pitbull.”
As Sarah Wolf’s friend, Abbott echoed that sentiment about the 5-foot-2-inch forward.
“She will fight, no matter how small she is,” Abbott said. “She doesn’t even care. She’ll speak her mind. She’ll keep fighting no matter what anybody else thinks.”
While the ACL injuries haven’t turned Sarah Wolf away from hockey, they have turned her toward a career path.
Sarah Wolf’s long-term plan is to become a physician’s assistant in orthopedic sports medicine, so she can help athletes who have suffered similar injuries to her own.
“It had a huge impact on me and my life,” Sarah Wolf said. “It made me really interested in the way the body works.”
Since coming to Plattsburgh a year later than expecting, Sarah Wolf has focused on working hard for the team.
“I’m just a hard-worker and a grinder,” Sarah Wolf said. “I’m not the most ‘flashy’ or the biggest scorer, but I think my role as a teammate is supporting everyone and working as hard as possible.”
Last season, Sarah Wolf suffered another setback when she fell ill. After missing several games with mononucleosis, Wolf got the flu very shortly after returning to play, forcing her to miss even more action.
“That hurt me last year, but I’m determined to stay healthy this year,” Sarah Wolf said.
While Sarah Wolf was part of the 2017 DIII national championship team, last season ended bitterly, losing in double overtime to long-time rival Elmira College. This loss has fueled Sarah Wolf’s fighting spirit.
“It was terrible last year; it sucked,” Sarah Wolf said. “We go to the frozen four to win the championship. This offseason, it made me work even harder off-ice and on-ice.”
From her position in goal, Abbott has personally witnessed the fruits of Sarah Wolf’s hard work.
“Last year, she played extremely well, until she got sick,” Abbott said. “This year, she’s keeping with the pace that she had last year.”
Off of the ice, Sarah Wolf enjoys spending time with her close friends. Abbott, who describes her friend as a “fun little ball of energy,” said that Sarah Wolf is a very entertaining friend.
“She is just one funny human being,” Abbott said. “The random things that she does and says make you say ‘what are you even doing?’”
That’s an assessment the player herself agrees with.
“If you ask someone, I think they’d say I’m a little crazy and a little fun,” Sarah Wolf said.
“If you get to know me, I’m pretty weird.”
Email Nathanael LePage at firstname.lastname@example.org