News

SoCal’s Barnes Aims to Inspire Next Generation With U.S. Women’s Hockey Team

SoCal’s Barnes Aims to Inspire Next Generation With U.S. Women’s Hockey Team

Cayla Barnes (3) of USA passes the puck against Canada in Gold Medal Game action at the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship at CAA Centre in Brampton, Ontario, on April 16, 2023. (Matt Zambonin/IIHF)

Dan Wood

Dan Wood

11/8/2023

Updated: 11/8/2023

There might be no better example for young female hockey players than Southern California’s Cayla Barnes.
A two-time Olympic silver medalist, Barnes and the rest of Team USA will be at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles at 1 p.m. Nov. 11 to take on Canada as part of the annual Rivalry Series between the two nations.
In addition to helping both women’s hockey powers prepare for the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship on April 3-14 in Utica, New York, the seven-game Rivalry Series that began Nov. 8 in Tempe, Arizona, provides a significant growth opportunity for the sport.
That fact is certainly not lost on Barnes, who grew up in Eastvale, California, and is currently playing her final collegiate season for Ohio State after having starred in four seasons at Boston College.
USA's Cayla Barnes (3) at 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship at CAA Centre in Brampton, Ontario, on April 3, 2023. (Matt Zambonin/IIHF)

USA's Cayla Barnes (3) at 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship at CAA Centre in Brampton, Ontario, on April 3, 2023. (Matt Zambonin/IIHF)

“One of the biggest goals is to inspire and grow the game, and build that next generation up,” Barnes told The Epoch Times. “With hockey growing in California, it’s super important to show girls that if they can see it, they can be it kind of thing. It’s big for girls to see that people like them, who grew up where they are growing up, can make it as far as they want to go.”
A mere 5-foot-1, Barnes might not look like a hockey player on first glance, but there is plenty more than meets the eye, Anaheim Lady Ducks General Manager Caroline Marchant told The Epoch Times.
“Cayla is not super tall,” Mrs. Marchant said. “She’s a scrappy defenseman. She’s always been that way. She’s always had the drive. For female players that maybe aren’t very big or tall or anything, it gives them an opportunity to see, ‘Hey, I can do this, too, if I really want it.’”
Barnes, 24, began her hockey career with the Lady Ducks and also played on boys’ teams with the LA Selects and Los Angeles Junior Kings before leaving home at age 14 to attend New Hampton, a prep school in New Hampshire where she also played soccer and lacrosse.
A part of the Team USA program since winning the first of three consecutive Under-18 World Championship gold medals in 2015, Barnes is one of 22 returning players from last season’s gold medal-winning World Championship team.
“This is kind of the first step of this year,” Barnes said, referencing the Rivalry Series, which will continue with four games in Canada before concluding Feb. 11 in St. Paul, Minnesota. “We had an August camp, but these are the first games of this year that are in preparation for the World Championship. It’s just getting time, getting touches together, spending time doing video, trying to develop that chemistry and team culture, everything you want so that you peak when it comes to World Championship time.”
One of 10 players who are splitting time between their collegiate squads and Team USA, Barnes is a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in sport management at Ohio State. After helping Boston College to three NCAA Tournament appearances, Barnes is part of a Buckeyes team that is ranked second in this week’s USA Hockey/The Rink Live national poll, behind only Big Ten rival Wisconsin.
USA's Cayla Barnes (3) celebrates at the bench with Megan Keller (5) after scoring a second period goal against Finland during Women’s Semifinal Round action at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games at Wukesong Sports Centre in Beijing, China, on Feb. 14, 2022. (Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)

USA's Cayla Barnes (3) celebrates at the bench with Megan Keller (5) after scoring a second period goal against Finland during Women’s Semifinal Round action at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games at Wukesong Sports Centre in Beijing, China, on Feb. 14, 2022. (Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)

“I had a great experience in Boston, an amazing four years,” Barnes said. “Ohio State is a completely different environment and different setting for me. I really wanted to get better and put myself in a different situation, step outside my comfort zone a little bit. Nadine Muzerall, our head coach, is amazing, as well. She is going to push you and work with you to develop as a player and as a person. I was really drawn to that, the work ethic, and the culture of the team.”
And for one day at least, Barnes will be back close to where it all started, just in a much larger venue than the many Southern California facilities where she played youth hockey.
“I’m still in contact with a lot of my coaches,” Barnes said. “I get emails from various parents and stuff like that, so it is a super big deal.”
Certainly, the crowd at Crypto.com Arena is likely to include a sizable Barnes personal rooting section, as well as any number of potential future standouts.
“They can see women playing a sport at a high level in an atmosphere where normally men are playing in those rinks,” Mrs. Marchant said. “It’s pretty cool for young female hockey players. It inspires them, and it should also motivate them to put in the work.”
Copy
facebooktwitterlinkedintelegram
Dan Wood

Dan Wood

Author

Dan Wood is a community sports reporter based in Orange County, California. He has covered sports professionally for some 43 years, spending nearly three decades in the newspaper industry and 14 years in radio. He is an avid music fan, with a strong lean toward country and classic rock.

Author's Selected Articles
California Insider
Sign up here for our email newsletter!
©2024 California Insider All Rights Reserved. California Insider is a part of Epoch Media Group.