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Inspiring The Next Generation of Girls Hockey Players as Miss Vermont

By Kyle Huson, 10/10/21, 12:15PM MDT


Joanna Nagle excited to use her platform to grow the game

Joanna Nagle’s sister was on mail retrieval duty when she saw a flyer she thought her sister might be interested in. It was an invitation to compete in a pageant.

“Jo, you should do this,” her sister said. Sitting in her hockey sweatshirt and sweatpants, Nagle responded to her sister, “I’m a hockey player.”

“I know. How cool would that be?”

And thus began the journey of following multiple passions for Joanna, who was crowned Miss Vermont in June and will compete at Miss USA in November.

“It got my wheels turning that this is a place that people don’t normally see hockey players. How cool would that be if I can reach out to people that way? I’m very happy to be doing that currently.”

“The whole hockey community was behind me while I was getting ready [to win Miss Vermont]. Knowing that I did them proud and got to continue this journey is a big deal and a sense of pride.”

Aside from the possibility of winning the Miss USA crown, Nagle is ecstatic about another mission: using her platform to inspire more girls to get into hockey.

“Since I’ve won, I’ve had girls who play hockey and compete in pageants send me pictures of them in their crowns in their hockey gear. It’s been so exciting to see that there’s more people like that starting to crop up and I’m sure that’s going to continue to be a thing.”

Nagle hopes that any young girl watching her will be inspired to play hockey. She listed some pieces of advice for those wanting to get into hockey.

Nagle's team and hockey community showed support for her after winning Miss Vermont.

“If you’re even thinking about it, you should definitely try it. Don’t be afraid of messing up. If you fall, know that it’s a part of hockey. Even the pros fall, and they still get up and keep going. Don’t be disappointed on that first little fall because they’re going to happen a lot in your whole life, but it’s going to be worth it and everyone does it.”

Nagle began her own hockey journey in Colchester, Vermont, where she would venture to the Gutterson Fieldhouse with her dad to watch the University of Vermont play in what she called a “wild atmosphere.”

“I was a figure skater before. Once I went to a game, I had my first pair of hockey skates the next week.”

She went on to play ACHA Division I at UVM, and got into coaching after college to continue with her love of the game.

“I started to think about what my next steps were going to be. Because I still really loved hockey and I also loved my career, and I was wondering can I work full time and still give back to the community?

“That’s when I started reaching out to local clubs asking if anyone needed help…it was really eye-opening to see how you can give back to the community, to your own hockey community after you’re done playing.”

Nagle started out by coaching 10U players with the Burlington Bobcats. After moving to the Baltimore, Maryland area, she directed the girls program for the Baltimore Stars and followed a group of girls up from the 12U season to their 16U season. Since then, she’s moved back to Vermont and is coaching with the Bobcats again.

Nagle attended USA Hockey's Level 5 Coaches Symposium in Duluth, Minn. in August.

“There’s a lot of things I enjoy [about coaching]. The biggest one is seeing other girls’ passions grow the way that I did. There’s always going to be those one or two girls on the team where I can see myself in them and their passion for it, and it’s really exciting to see that I’m contributing to that. That is my absolute favorite.”

Her passion has led her to the highest level of coaching possible at the youth level. She attended the Level 5 Coaches Symposium in Duluth, Minnesota this past August and was able to reflect on her coaching journey and implored more females to get into coaching.

“One of the biggest takeaways is that there needs to be more female coaches, and it means a lot to these kids to have some outside person, that other confidant that’s not their parents, not their friends that can be part of their lives and enrich their lives in that way.”

“I still talk with the girls that I coached five years ago. That’s the impact anyone could have if they decide to go down that route.”

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