Figure skater turned hockey goalie doesn’t look back


Hockey goalie, junior Emily Wissemes, started playing hockey at 11 years old. Wissemes currently plays for the Chicago Fury, and had a shutout against Team Wisconsin on Nov. 1. Photo courtesy of Stella Wissemes.

A later start to the game than most hasn’t held back junior Emily Wissemes from loving the game of hockey.

The first time Wissemes came onto the ice, hockey wasn’t the intention. However, by the time she was 11 years old it turned into a passion.

“My parents put me on skates when I was 2,” Wissemes said. “They put me in figure skating lessons. From there I went onto a synchro(nized) team and one of the girls on there played hockey too. She kind of introduced me to it.”

Wissemes’ teammate let her try out her brother’s full goalie gear and it was an experience that changed how she viewed skating.

“That was kind of when it was like ‘No, I’m not going back on the ice unless it’s in goalie gear,” Wissemes said.  

Girls hockey teams, although gaining popularity recently, are still not common and Wissemes’ first team was a boys team. For a year, Wissemes was the sole goalie for the Admirals PeeWee Red team which won the league championship.

“I can just remember counting down- five four three two one.  Just having fun with my team, and it was really nice because I was the only girl on the team so they had a lot of respect for me,” Wissemes said.

As she got older Wissemes was able to play on girls teams and continues to do so now.

“I got picked up by a triple A team when I was 13. This will be my fourth year playing on the Chicago Fury,” Wissemes said.

Chicago Fury is a Tier 1 Elite Hockey League Team based in Orland Park. The team competes with other teams from around the area, other states, and outside the country.

Wissemes, with a small frame and figure skating past, might seemed like an unlikely match for the sport, yet stepping into heavy gear and facing off with high flying pucks is perfect for her.  

“I tried to play soccer before – that didn’t turn out well. I played softball for a year. We actually did pretty well, but I didn’t like it that much so I went back to figure skating. Then I tried hockey and I liked doing that, so that was about it,” Wissemes said.

While hockey is not offered as an IHSA sponsored sport, Wissemes hopes to continue to play in college where it is more common as a school sport.

One of Wissemes favorite hockey memories happened as her team won a tournament while college scouts watched.

“Last year I was up in Stony Creek, Canada for a tournament. The whole rink was just filled with college scouts and it was so kind of surreal. I was just like ‘I could be playing college hockey for one of these colleges. I’m like right there. I can do this,’” Wissemes said.   

Hockey has become a huge commitment for Wissemes. Playing almost year-round and traveling often for tournaments and games, Wissemes misses upwards of 10 days of school a year, yet doing what she loves makes it worth it.  

“For me, when I tried skating I knew this is what I wanted to do. This is what I needed to do. It just became part of my life,” Wissemes said.