It didn’t produce the desired result, but Jincy Dunne called her time with the U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team a great learning experience.
The 16-year-old Dunne, a native of O’Fallon, Mo., was named to the 25-player U.S. team in June but ultimately didn’t make the final 21-player Olympic roster, ending her bid to compete in Sochi, Russia, as the youngest U.S. Olympic women’s hockey player ever.
“Everything that happens to me in life is an opportunity to learn something good or bad, and this was a positive learning opportunity for me,” Dunne said. “I was obviously disappointed when I found out, but looking back, it was a great opportunity to play with such an amazing group of women, to see how they live their lives and what they do on and off the ice.”
Dunne plans to take that experience with her to Budapest, Hungary, where the U.S. Women’s National Under-18 Team will compete in the International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s U18 World Championship starting March 23.
“Going from the national team to the Under-18 team, I’ve been told this is your chance to be a leader and true leaders lead by example,” Dunne said. “It’s your actions, how you act, your words and how you treat your teammates. It’s getting those working in a positive manner so you can encourage and champion your teammates.”
Jeff Kampersal, coach of the U.S. U18 team, sees a player who is mature beyond her years.
“Jincy is the next best U.S. hockey player,” Kampersal said. “She’s incredibly talented, she has a great skill set and she can control a whole game.”
Possibly the most important quality that stands out to Kampersal is Dunne’s modesty.
“She’s unbelievably humble,” Kampersal said. “I think at this point she knows she’s a great player, but just talking to her you would never know that. And even as her accomplishments get bigger and she gets a crack at the big club, she’s still as humble as ever.”
Dunne’s humble beginnings can be traced to O’Fallon, Mo., a 35-minute drive from St. Louis. Her younger brother Josh wanted to try hockey so Dunne joined him, starting with roller hockey at age 4 before switching to the ice by her ninth birthday.
“I tried it and I loved it,” Dunne said.
It shows, too. Dunne, the daughter of Tom and Tammy Dunne, was named after her maternal grandmother and is the second-oldest of six children. Dunne, whose older sister Jessica committed to Ohio State University, also recently played hockey with the Westminster Christian Academy boys’ team, the St. Louis Lady Blues and the St. Louis AAA boys’ hockey team, which reached the national championship game last year.
“I love the game and I’m always trying to do what I can to be a better player and grow my game,” Dunne said. “I never want to settle, and that’s not just hockey, that’s in a lot of things. I know what my goals are and I continue to try and reach that next level.”
She got a taste of that next level with the U.S. Olympic Women’s Team.
“I learned so much… how to represent yourself, how you treat your teammates, and what it means to be team-first and dedicate yourself every day,” Dunne said. “Just being around them, it’s awesome to see, especially because there are so many great leaders and to be in the same room and learn from them was awesome.”
Dunne also received the opportunity to face the best competition in the world, regularly squaring off and defending against the likes of Julie Chu, Meghan Duggan and Amanda Kessel.
“It’s definitely intimidating at first, playing against them in practice, but it definitely made me better as a player,” Dunne said. “It was very intimidating at times, but I realized the coaches know what they’re doing and they have me here for a reason, so I’m going to trust that and keep playing my game.”
And, through her time with the national team, Dunne experienced a culture that she hopes to be part of again in the near future.
“I learned it’s a culture, it’s a family and what it means to wear the jersey… to be a team first and be part of something bigger than ourselves,” Dunne said. “That’s something I’ll always take with me, and I hope God-willing I’ll have more opportunities to wear that jersey and I can wear it just as well as they do.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.