Livia Altmann, the star defender and captain on the Colgate women’s ice hockey team, has plenty of accolades and achievements under her belt. Since joining the Swiss Senior National team in 2012-2013, she has achieved nothing but greatness. She won a bronze medal with the Swiss National team in 2014 at the Sochi Olympic games, earned the Swiss ice hockey MVP award in 2014-2015, and captured the Swiss golden player award for a Defenseman in the same season. Just one year later, she took the MVP award for team Switzerland in the 2016 World Championships.
At Colgate, Altmann has led her team to similar if not higher levels of success. Last season, the team finished among the national best. They were 34-6-1 (.861 winning percentage) and made it to the national championship game, but lost in overtime by a close score of 2 to 1. Although the team came oh-so-close to the D1 national championship, they still exceeded all expectations by making it there. Despite our difference in student population, Colgate managed to take down Wisconsin in the semifinals. Wisconsin has more than 10 times the population of Colgate, but that didn’t matter on the ice in Minneapolis last March for the renowned Frozen Four tournament.
Despite the smashing success of the team’s 2017-2018 season, Altmann is not dwelling on the past.
“I think the main thing is that you work on your game every day, always trying to get better. Also a big thing from our team this year is trying to prove it [success] again—we are striving to be even better than last year, and the only way to achieve that is working on our skills again and again. It is also very important to treat every game seriously,” said Altmann.
The Swiss national also doesn’t believe there are any roster holes on the team and believes one of their greatest strengths goes beyond their skill set—the team’s camaraderie.
“I think we have general great skills, we are a very fast team, but despite the skills on the ice, we have a really great playing system. And also off the ice, our team is really close with each other, which ends up benefiting our team back on the ice,” Altmann said.
Altmann has had to transition from the international arena to the Class of 1965 Arena, noting that even the stadium’s dimension sizes have a real impact on the team’s play.
“I think our league is really good, and in the league there are a lot of North American National players … so I wouldn’t say there is a huge difference in competition. In the world’s in Europe, we play on the Olympic ice size, while here in America, it is the NHL size, which is a little smaller. This change doesn’t take long to adjust to, after one day with the different systems and ice sizes, I am usually back to normal,” said Altmann.
The grueling length of the women’s ice hockey season can take a toll on the players and team. In Altmann’s case, she played her first tournament of the 2018-2019 season in August with Switzerland, and then she projects the season will wind down around April (9 months later). But her trick to combat the physical demand doesn’t rely just in the weight room and cardio work.
“Everyday is constantly recovering with ice baths and I am personally a big fan of yoga, which can really help with my flexibility. Also maybe the biggest thing is just getting a good night sleep each night,” said Altmann.
A unique aspect of Colgate’s roster this season, the team is holding four goalies, which isn’t done very often. Altmann believes the lack of reps in practice won’t affect them to heavily for an intriguing reason: the team plans on pulling up some players from the women’s club ice hockey team to take some shots on them during practice and free time. The star forward for the club team, Sarah Contento, might be able to help the other goalies get some chances during the season. Beyond roster arrangement, every great team needs great management, and this season, they seem to have it locked down.
Greg Fargo, the head women’s ice hockey coach, won NCAA women’s hockey coach of the year award for 2017-2018. And they also just acquired a new team manager, freshman Jack Breitowich, who believes great things are coming with this team.
“The team and I believe that we will surpass our high expectations to be even better this season,” said Breitowich.
Contact Simon Gerszberg at [email protected]