It’s no surprise that Anna Dale found herself as one of the top players on Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears Varsity hockey team.
Not long after most kids learn to walk, Dale wanted to be on skates.
“I grew up at the rink,” she said, still wearing her gear after an early morning practice at Treadwell Arena. “When my mom asked me what I wanted to do when I got older, she probably expected me to say ballet or something, but I said hockey.”
Her long blonde ponytail poking out of her helmet is a stark contrast to the tousled short hair under the other mostly male players on the ice. However, growing up with two older brothers who played on the same team just years ahead of her — she said she always knew the ice was where she belonged.
Born and raised in Juneau, Dale has been playing hockey since even before she turned 4 years old. Now, as a senior in high school and one of the assistant captains of the Crimson Bears, she is known in Juneau — and across the state — as one of the brightest athletes in her class.
In just 14 games this year, Dale managed to score eight goals and nine assists, for a total of 17 points for her team. So far this year she has been going back and forth as the top scorer on the team with her teammate Caden Johns who currently leads her by just a point.
Dale said the game has never been about how many points she scores or how good she’s doing — it’s about her love for the game. However, that love manifests in both an impressive scoring record and beyond, said Crimson Bears hockey head coach Matthew Boline.
Boline said he’s always known Dale would be great because of her personality which he described as outgoing and always positive. He said oftentimes it’s easy to understand someone’s personality just by looking at how they play on the ice. For Dale, he said it’s no wonder she succeeds both academically and on the ice just by the way she plays.
“I think that all those strong personality traits that you look for in general in life are the same thing you’re looking for in a player,” Boline said. “She’s somebody who takes some risks, keeps people together and goes to bat for the team and does things the right — she’s always been that way.”
Boline said he hopes to see Dale continue her hockey career into college, and thinks she has a lot of potential to continue to grow as a great player and student.
Going into her final semester at JDHS, Dale has successfully maintained a 4.0 GPA while still participating in sports year-round, including varsity tennis, hockey and softball.
Just a few months ago Dale competed in the Alaska High School Tennis Championship in Anchorage representing Juneau’s mixed doubles team alongside junior Brendon West, also a Crimson Bears varsity hockey player. The duo snagged third place in the event.
She also manages to squeeze in extracurricular activities like the National Honors Society and flying down to the Lower 48 once a month to play in an under 19 Idaho hockey team as well.
Looking to her future, Dale said she is interested in going into nursing school and would like to focus on pediatrics. She said she’s always enjoyed spending time with children while also wanting to go into the medical field, making pediatric nursing a natural fit.
She said she hasn’t decided on where she plans to go to college but is keen on continuing her hockey career on a female team at the collegiate level.
“I obviously want to continue playing hockey my entire life, but I think it would be fun to continue playing in college,” she said.
For most women’s ice hockey teams, including at the college level, it’s standard that all body checking is prohibited, but for most male leagues it’s allowed. Though the Crimson Bears team is a co-ed, the team mostly competes against other co-ed or all-male teams in Alaska, meaning checking is allowed and is something Dale is no exception to.
“It’s definitely hurt a few times,” Dale said. “But, I’m so used to it by now and all my teammates have my back too, and I think I’ve learned how to keep my head up.”
Boline agreed and said he when Dale was just starting on the varsity team as a freshman and remembers her experience being checked for the first time.
“She got hit hard and got rocked, but she wanted to get back out there, and I was like, ‘Are you sure you are OK?’ and she was just ready to get back out there,” he said. “She was a pretty tough cookie then and she still is today.”
Despite the sometimes painful checks, Dale said she is proud to play on a co-ed team and loves the bonds she formed and the memories she’s made with everyone on the team.
“I grew up with these guys and my teammates are kind of like brothers to me,” she said. “We’ve been playing together since we were little kids.”
Dale said she hopes younger girls in the Juneau community can look up to her and the other six girls on the varsity team and know that anyone can do great things in the sport regardless of who they are.
“I want them to know that just because it’s a male-dominated sport and they might be bigger or stronger than you — you’ll always be smarter,” Dale said, laughing. “This is my favorite sport and I love getting to play it.”
• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.