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Augustine’s Veteran Leadership a Boost to Team USA

01/31/2017, 2:45pm EST
By Brian Hall - Special to USA Hockey

Forward playing in third Winter World University Games

Katie Augustine always hoped hockey would present her with the opportunity to travel around the world.

Coming from Ohio, Augustine never expected the breadth of experiences she would have. Now, in her third Winter World University Games, Augustine is among the most-traveled players for the U.S. women’s hockey team that traveled to Almaty, Kazakhstan.

“It’s been so great to have an opportunity to play hockey and travel abroad with your teammates,” Augustine said. “It’s just a great experience; a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Or, for Augustine, a fifth-time opportunity.

During high school, she got to travel to Russia and Finland with Team USA. She has been to Trentino, Italy, and Grenada, Spain, for the Winter World University Games. This year, in a place she said she never imagined visiting, she’s one of Team USA’s veteran players for coach Shelley Looney.

While this year is the 28th annual Winter World University Games, it’s the fourth appearance for the U.S. women’s hockey team. Augustine has been there for all but one.

“We’re going to look for her to lead on and off the ice,” Looney said. “She’s not a vocal leader. I think she’s more of a, ‘Watch what I do,’ and girls will follow. I think she’s going to bring a lot of experience on the ice, which we’re going to need.”

Of course, Looney is no stranger to traveling either. She spent 13 years playing for Team USA, including trips to two Olympic Winter Games. Looney won the gold medal with the U.S. in Nagano, Japan, in 1998 and the silver medal in the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Looney knows the importance of leadership and experience. She said her team is a good mix of youth and experience. But Augustine’s role is important on the U.S. Women’s National University Team.

“I think it can be very vital as long as we embrace it,” Looney said. “They know that she’s been here before. We’ve got some young ones on the team and I think they’ll look to her for guidance and that kind of gives us an edge, I think, for different reasons.”

Augustine has 11 goals and seven assists in 20 games for the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks club hockey team this season. She is joined on the U.S. team by Rachael Booth, another Miami player and a veteran of the Winter World University Games.

The third time representing Team USA isn’t lost on Augustine.

“I’m very excited,” she said. “I’m always grateful to have this opportunity to represent my country.”

Leading up to competition, Augustine got plenty of questions from her younger teammates. Some want to know about the experiences in Spain and Italy, others the competition they will face.

“I just tell them to keep an open mind and just feel honored to have this opportunity, and make the most out of this experience,” Augustine said.

There has been time for sightseeing in her trips, but Augustine understands that hockey comes first on these adventures. She said participating in the opening and closing ceremonies, getting the chance to interact with athletes from different countries and sports has been the highlight of her times playing in the Winter World University Games.

Augustine said she hasn’t changed much since her first time playing in the Games other than the knowledge of knowing what to expect from the travel and competition.

Her advice to teammates on travel has been to stay patient.

“This is going to be a long trip, but it will be worth it to endure all the travel,” Augustine said. “For all of us to represent our country well, we need to do our best because it’s not going to be a couple of easy games. We’re going to have 100 percent effort. Just enjoy it and have fun.”

Augustine and Looney said the competition during the Games is improving. Both believe the U.S. team has a good chance for success.

“Comparing what we have this year to what we had two years ago, I feel our talent level has risen and it gives me and the rest of the staff a lot of excitement to see what we can do to pull together,” Looney said.

And Augustine should be in the middle of the action, using her years of experience for Team USA.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

NOTE: The U.S. Women's National University Team bounced back from an tournament-opening loss to Russia with a 3-2 victory over Japan to close out preliminary-round play. For full coverage of the U.S. Women's National University Team, click here. 

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