Scoring doesn’t make the player

The feature I’m writing is on Julianna Iafallo, a player on the Buckeyes Women’s Ice Hockey team. She’s a forward and wears number 18.

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Ohio State Women’s Ice Hockey

My interest in her was piqued when I saw that she was from Buffalo, New York (a fellow Western NY’er, seeing as I’m from Rochester, NY) and that she’d played on the Buffalo Bison women’s AHL team.

My angle took a lot of time to decide on, to be honest. I realized early on that only wanting to talk to her because she was from Buffalo wasn’t going to be enough if I wanted to have a really impressive feature.

Here’s the difficulty: there is almost no data for Women’s Ice Hockey at Ohio State. Finding her number took me an extra twenty minutes of time and having to go to an outside source and find pictures of her just to find her jersey number (in hindsight I realized it was on the stats page, and that I wasn’t looking close enough, but there’s still a huge lack of data across the Big Ten for the women’s side of the sport).

While the men’s hockey team has a 9-page document of statistics, a 100-page 2016-17 team information document, a 41-page game notes release, and a Quick Facts page, the women’s team has…. a Quick Facts page that barely talks about the players and a 1-page stats document.

So I started digging in a little deeper. And I noticed that, while Julianna doesn’t always make it on the scoreboard during a game, her name is almost always mentioned in the post-game notes. Why, you might ask?

She’s a playmaker. She assists goals. She forces turnovers. She pressures the other team and wins the puck, then gives it off to one of her teammates for the goal.

I know that one of the most important things in sports is the ability to score, and to score a lot. But as a jaded former soccer player who sent assists to my teammates and barely got any credit while everyone celebrated their goal, I’m a little more attuned to the people who make situations for goal scoring than the actual goal scorers themselves (at least, most of the time).

I want to talk to Julianna and address this. Where I’m struggling is finding the right questions to ask her that don’t seem rude or like I’m trying to say “you don’t score but that’s okay.” I want it to be genuine and try to reassert that just because you aren’t racking up points on the scoreboard, it doesn’t mean that you’re not an impactful player.

And as a fun little sidenote: she’s been playing hockey almost all her life, and was coached by her father (something I can relate to). Plus, her older brother plays hockey at Minnesota-Duluth, so it runs in the family. While I want to focus on how she’s a playmaker on the ice, I think that delving into her background will be part of the explanation of why she plays the way she does.

The Ohio State Buckeyes women's hockey team closes out the regular season with a 3-2 loss against No. 9 University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks Saturday, February 20, 2016 at the OSU Ice Rink in Columbus, OH.  With the loss, OSU split the weekend series
Inside Hockey

As far as interviewing and obtaining quotes goes, I’ll be reaching out to Chris Cullum, the SID for the Women’s Hockey team, to schedule interviews with the coach of the team, Nadine Muzerall, one of Julianna’s teammates (I’m not sure who yet) and then Julianna herself.

The more it comes together, the more excited I get for it.

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