BRSN & Slope Media Present: An Interview with Devon Facchinato
Devon Facchinato is a senior defenseman on the Big Red Women’s Ice Hockey team who hails from Windsor, Ontario. This year she was recognized as the Mandi Schwartz Student-Athlete of the Year, which is presented to an ECAC (Eastern College Athletic Conference) women’s hockey player annually. The award honors Yale’s Mandi Schwarz (1988-2011), a student-athlete who inspired the entire hockey community through her battle with acute myeloid Leukemia. I sat down with Facchinato to learn a bit about her experiences on and off the ice.
When did you start playing hockey, what were your early experiences with it?
I actually figure skated first. I learned to skate on figure skates and then there was a period of about two years where I actually figure skated and played hockey, but then it got to the point where both were starting to pick up and my parents basically said, “This is a bit much and you need to choose.” So, I think when I was seven years old, I decided to just play hockey.
What made you choose hockey?
I have two uncles who are referees and then my grandfather was a referee supervisor, so it was always in my family. And honestly, I wasn’t a super big girly girl, so figure skating wasn’t for me. I remember we had our first little competition, and everyone showed up and they were all dolled up and I didn’t feel like I fit in.
Do you have a favorite athlete, hockey player or otherwise?
I love tennis, so I’m a pretty big Rafael Nadal fan. I also love Serena Williams. So, I’d probably say those are my favorite athletes.
More on the practicing/playing hockey side of things, do you have a worst and most favorite drill or practice?
I never look forward to bag skate at the end. That’s just where we’ll line up and have to do suicides. I definitely like drills where there are multiple components to it and it’s a little bit more game like. The coach here (Doug Derraugh, ’91) runs super awesome practices. My favorite practice would have to consist of very game-like drills, so like when we’re practicing 5 on 5s with situations, whether that be D-zone, O-zone, or Neutral-zone.
What was the recruiting process like for you?
I committed here when I was in Grade 10. It was pretty cool. I visited a few schools before coming to Cornell, but once I visited Cornell, I kind of knew this was the place that I wanted to attend. The whole “any person, any study” idea appealed to me too because I had no idea what I wanted to do as a tenth grader. I didn’t want to limit myself and go to a school where they only have certain majors and then in two years decide that I want to do something that they didn’t have. For me it was always yes, playing hockey is awesome, but I wanted to make sure that I was at a school that I wanted to be at even if I couldn’t play hockey.
Do you have a favorite spot on campus?
I hop around all over and I’ve been studying in Olin a lot this year, which is kind of random. But I would say I really like to study in Olin.
What’s your ideal weekend at Cornell pre-COVID?
When the weather’s nice, I love going to one of the gorges, or Second Dam is awesome. Sometimes watching the sunset at Sunset Park is really nice. Definitely exploring nature in Ithaca. Pre-COVID would probably mean there would be some hockey, which would be nice.
Do you have any funny stories with your teammates or just kind of being around the team?
This was actually last year, more towards the beginning of the year. One of the girls on the team was a really big Buffalo Bills fan. She got a big bus for our whole team and we went to a game. We left at like 6 in the morning, we drove to the game, and we watched the game. It was so much fun! And then I remember it was on a Sunday and we got back on the Monday and that was the day we had our fitness testing. It was really bad. I mean I’m not good at it to begin with, but people who are normally good at it were just pooped from the day before because we were in the sun all day.
Do you have any teammates who have really helped you? Anyone who’s been a mentor?
The first person that comes to mind is Diana Buckley (’19). She’s two years older than me and I just always looked up to her. She always had it together and she was always super nice too. She was just awesome. And then Taylor Pietrowski (’22) who’s a year younger than me, so she’s a junior. She’s just awesome and she’s gone through a lot, a ton of injuries, so she hasn’t really been able to play. But the amount that she’s done for the team has just been insane. I feel like she’s the glue that holds our team together.
Do you have a favorite Cornell hockey memory?
I don’t know if this is a specific thing, but definitely our fans. Our fans are just awesome. I definitely miss that, playing at Lynah and seeing all the fans.
What did winning the Mandi Schwartz Student-Athlete of the Year award mean to you?
That was super exciting. It was also kind of odd because normally we’d have a banquet and we’d kind of know, but this year they were announcing on Twitter; I don’t even have Twitter, so it was just kind of like ‘Oh, okay.’ But I’ve definitely always taken academics pretty seriously and it was such a big honor, and the award means so much. I’ve worked very hard and put a lot of time into my academics, so it was nice for that to be recognized.
How did you stay motivated during quarantine and work out? Did you have ice time back home?
When I was back home, I actually played tennis almost every day with my mom, which was pretty awesome. It’s kind of funny because as an athlete, or at least for me, we work very hard, but when we rest, we rest. But when I was at home, my mom was insane. My mom gets up at 7 in the morning, goes on the elliptical for an hour, then she does yoga, then she goes for power walks. So, I felt like I had to keep up with her a little bit. It was definitely a lot less structured. It wasn’t my typical lifts with weights, but it was just staying active in a fun way with my family, and I actually really enjoyed that. I didn’t have ice time. It’s actually pretty crazy, right now, Windsor is back in lockdown. It’s been a lot stricter there, and it’s not even necessarily because there have been more cases.
Were you able to be on the ice with the team last semester (and this semester)? What have workouts been like?
It was a little bit weird. Nothing was really consistent because we’d practice and then we’d switch back into Code Yellow and we wouldn’t be able to practice. We got on a little bit of a schedule just practicing for an hour basically every day and then we were lifting three times a week. There were still strict limits on how much we could practice, and we were also in pods. So, we were only with a third of the team. Some of us weren’t in the actual locker room. We were wearing masks on the ice. It was definitely a lot different than previous years.
What was the decision to come back to campus like? Especially coming from Canada?
I actually have a couple classes that are in person and a lab that’s in person, so I wanted to come back. And a lot of the girls on the team were coming back, so I decided it would be nice to be with my friends. In terms of the border, I have an F-1 student visa, and honestly when I went through, they looked at it and just let me go ahead. It was pretty easy.
As a senior do you see hockey being in your future?
Unfortunately, no, I’m going to go on and do other things. I can see myself definitely playing, just not organized or super competitive anymore. It would be great if I could play in my dad’s beer league every once in a while when I’m at home. But definitely I’m not going to continue competitively.
Do you watch hockey? The NWHL or NHL?
A little bit. Not so much the NHL this season because we don’t have cable or anything. But sometimes the NWHL, we’ll hear about girls that we used to play with and so it’s fun to see stuff like that.
Would you rather have your least favorite song played every time you score a goal or have to re-roof an entire house?
For me the first one, because I never score goals, so that’s an easy one.
Although Facchinato will begin a new chapter after she graduates in May, she’s left her mark on Big Red women’s hockey and it has definitely made an impact on her. She gave us lots of insight into Cornell Women’s Hockey and hopefully we can see them on the ice again soon!