Muscle Is Meant to Be

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“Femininity is often thought of as the opposite of strength and that just isn’t true. I think that exercise and sports can give women a type of confidence that you can’t find anywhere else.”

Miye D’Oench

Activities: Professional Hockey Player

Miye D’Oench is someone that I have had the opportunity to watch transition from a kid who looked like she was being swallowed by her hockey uniform, to a young adult. I don’t think she realizes, but I would see her from time to time in the summer, heading for the ice rink, this tiny girl, eager to play. I once asked a coach, who she was and he told me her name and said she was tiny, but very good. Fast forward to 2015/2016, I ran into Miye at the gym and explained the concept of my blog. I asked her if she would be interested in doing it and she said yes. She was finishing her senior year and had been drafted by a professional team.

I took a bit of time away from the blog, but when I started it back up, I knew Miye was one of the women I wanted to interview. I would see her at the gym every once in a while and would say, “I haven’t forgotten about you.” Her response was always an easy,  “I’m here…” or “I’m around…” with a smile.

What you need to know is the reason Miye stayed in the back of my mind is because I have seen her grow from a girl to a woman, her energy and joy never waning, and although her accomplishments in life thus far are great, she has always remained humble. To look back over her life, one can honestly say, the path she is on is meant to be.

Thank you Miye for the interview and your patience.

Q:  Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Manhattan. My family lived in Carroll Gardens until I was 18 months old, then moved to 96th Street. Now we live in Battery Park City.

Q:  Do you come from an active family?

My dad was pretty athletic (a great skier) but was not particularly active on a regular basis. My mom is not really athletic and never played sports, but is very active. She works out more than I do.

Q:  What sports did you play as a child?

Growing up, I played everything: soccer, softball, basketball, hockey, karate, skiing, etc. By the time I got to middle school, I narrowed in on hockey, lacrosse, and a bit of squash.

Q:  What made you want to play hockey? How old were you when you started?

My brother played, so I’ve been in a hockey rink since I was six months old. My parents tried to get me to do figure skating, but I wasn’t having any of it. I played my first hockey game, when I was four years old.

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Q:  What position do you play, and does it represent your personality off the ice?

I play forward, and I think it does represent my personality. You have to be fast and creative as a forward.

Q:  When you were growing up, hockey was not a sport most girls gravitated towards. Who encouraged you the most?

I would say, my dad encouraged me the most. Both my parents loved watching me play, so having parents that genuinely enjoyed watching me perform, was always really encouraging.

Q:  As a female athlete, playing a male dominated sport, what difficulties have you experienced, if any?

There have been plenty of difficulties. Growing up, I was often the only girl on my team. My teammates were always really supportive, but I faced plenty of sexism from opposing teams, coaches, and parents.

Q:  Did your high school have a hockey team, or did you play in a league?

I played on a club team because I went to high school in New York, and my school didn’t have a team. I played for a boys’ team at Chelsea Piers, then I switched to a girls’ team in Connecticut, when I was 12. Then, finally to a girls’ team in New Jersey when I was 15. There are no female teams in New York City

Q:  What was your major in college?

I was a Social Studies major. Social Studies is an interdisciplinary major that combines all the social sciences: Sociology, Anthropology, Politics, History, and Psychology.

Q:  How did you manage your schedule between school, homework, and practice?

It was definitely a challenge to balance everything, but you get plenty of support from teammates who are doing the same thing. Every student learns to make sacrifices and there’s no shortage of hard work among student athletes.

Q:  When did you know you wanted to play hockey professionally?

I actually wasn’t sure if I would play until my senior spring. I was really focused on giving Harvard Hockey everything I had, and academically I had a challenging course load as well. I was following the NWHL that year, and in the back of my head, I was thinking about it, especially after being drafted. For the last few years, I had sort of mentally prepared to retire after graduation, so I wasn’t sure if I would continue. Ultimately, I got a job in New York and all the cards lined up so I signed with the Riveters, and I’m so glad I did.

Q:  After graduation, were you picked up by a team right away?

I was drafted to Boston, but after getting a job in New York, I worked with the Boston and New York general managers to get traded. The league makes a big effort to work with players, especially since many players have other jobs in addition to playing.

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Q:  Many people would have graduated and left the sport behind and taken on a full time job, or continued their education. Did you ever consider that, and if so, what made you change your mind?

Ultimately, I didn’t have to choose, and I am glad. Currently, I work as a paralegal, at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and I play professional hockey. The league is structured so that players can hold a 9-5 job in addition to playing.

Q:  When does your season start, and what is a typical day for you?

The season starts in October, Typically, I wake up around 7h30, and make breakfast (this is non-negotiable, haha.) I get to the office at 9 a.m. and on practice days, I leave at 5 p.m. I head to the PATH train and take it to Newark. It’s a ten minute walk to the rink from the Newark station. Once I get there, I change and start warming up before practice. When practice finishes, I head home, usually getting there around 10h30 or 11 p.m. and then I go straight to bed.

Q:  How do you spend your time during the off season?

I still go to work Monday through Friday, but my time after work and on the weekends, is a lot more open. I get in workouts, either before, or after work and hop on the ice when I can; otherwise, it’s a lot of enjoying the weather and trying to be outdoors as much as possible.

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Q:  Playing a sport, requires a huge level of dedication to stay in shape. Do you think you will always workout, or stay active in some way?

I definitely think I will always stay in shape. My senior spring, I took  a full three months off from working out. I had a number of injuries and was feeling pretty burnt out after four years of punishing dedication to the team. After a much needed reprieve, it’s been really fun to be back in the gym. I don’t see myself ever losing that drive.

Q:  What has playing hockey, taught you about yourself?

It has taught me a lot about determination. Every time I thought I had hit an absolute limit, I found, with the help of teammates and coaches, I could push through it. There’s nothing like being able to say that there wasn’t one more thing you could have done to prepare for something, and just giving it everything you have. That’s something I think that can be applied to everything in life.

Q:  Why did you agree to be a part of MCBMI?

I think it’s a great idea to showcase strong women. Femininity is often thought of as the opposite of strength, and that just isn’t true. I think that exercise and sports can give women a type of confidence that you can’t find anywhere else. So, whenever I can, I try to encourage women to use their muscles and find their strength.