Athlete of the Week Interview
Gillis: Going into the game, I knew beating a great team like Northeastern was going to be a challenge. Being a freshman, I was new to college hockey playoffs and the whole atmosphere of it all. My main goal going into the game was to focus on keeping my head clear and treat it as if it was a normal game, and not let the excitement of it cloud my play on the ice.
BRSN: How did you first get started with hockey, and what kept you in the sport?
Gillis: My dad played hockey growing up so when my sister and I were really little he taught us to skate. My parents always tell us that we always wanted to play hockey as opposed to taking the figure skating route. They say that when we were doing learn to skate, on the other half of the ice there was an ice hockey session going on at the same time. Finley and I just kept looking over to that end of the ice and saying, “Can we do that?!” So, it was always hockey for us from a young age and we never looked back.
BRSN: Why did you choose Cornell?
Gillis: I know it may sound clichè but I got the warm feeling inside when I visited here. Cornell was very attractive to me because it was a place I could play the highest level of hockey while getting one of the best educations in the country. The team atmosphere and coaching staff was also something that set itself apart from all the other schools that I was looking at. And, of course, the Lynah faithful!
BRSN: What is your greatest hockey memory?
Gillis: One of my greatest hockey memories was winning the New England Championship with my sister, Finley, my freshman year at St. Paul’s. We were the 8th seed going into the tournament and had to beat two undefeated teams in the Quarterfinals and then the Semifinals. We were the true underdogs and it was so memorable to be able to battle through those two games and win it all. Finley and I played on the same line and it was awesome.
BRSN: How do you like to prepare for games?
Gillis: One of my favorite pre-game activities is playing Spikeball. Pippy Gerace and I are teammates, and before every game, we take on Micah Zandee-Hart and Jaime Bourbonnais. The first couple of games of the season I think Pippy and I scored a total of 10 points: let’s just say it was a blowout. Since then, Pippy and I have pulled off I think a total of 4 upsets, and every time Pippy and I run into the locker room screaming that we were victors!
BRSN: How does it feel being able to play hockey with your sister, Finley, again here at Cornell?
Gillis: It amazing to be able to play with Finley again here at Cornell. After scoring the goal on Saturday, I remember being tackled by my the team and then my sister shaking my shoulders and screaming her cheers in my face. It has been amazing to be able to share this experience with her and to have her by my side for all the ups and downs that come with playing a division 1 sport. She sets the standard and pace for me, always.
BRSN: Before Cornell, you played hockey at St. Paul’s. How was that experience in preparing you for college?
Gillis: St. Paul’s, in general, has prepared me very well for Cornell. It has taught me how to manage my time well with hockey and academics, which has been especially useful here at Cornell. As for the hockey aspect, I think there is always going to be a jump from high school athletics to the college level no matter where you played. The girls are bigger, older, and faster, and the game is more physical. Although this is the case, I felt that St. Paul’s really prepared me for how to work well and play on a team with girls you live with 24/7.
BRSN: This past weekend, you scored the game-winning goal in OT to propel the team to the Frozen Four. How cool of a moment was that for you and the team?
Gillis: Even now, thinking back on that moment, it still feels like a dream. I will never forget the dog pile with my teammates and the celebration in the locker room after. It was an amazing team win that really showed our perseverance and resilience. It is a moment I will never forget. And that pass from my line-mate Diana was just unbelievable.
BRSN: Soon, the Big Red will be heading to the National Semifinals. What are you looking forward to with such a fun and big weekend coming up in a few weeks?
Gillis: This experience is something new for everyone on our team, because the last time Cornell made it was in 2012. Personally, everything is new for me being a freshman. I am trying to take in all the excitement and experience of it all, but also to not let the newness get in my head and affect my play. But, this is fun, and doing it with this group of girls who have all worked so hard together all year to get to this point is really something special.