Same school, new sport

Despite the sacrifices, the defeats, the forced organization and the grind of every day life as a Division I athlete, Abbey Kaknes would not change a thing. Kaknes, a graduate student studying elementary education, was a four-year starter on the women’s ice hockey team and is now using her last year of eligibility in the NCAA to play with the women’s soccer team. “Every bad thing you experience as an athlete makes you appreciate all the good things that much more,” Kaknes said. “The sacrifice of your social life makes the team dinners that much more special. The monotony of everyday makes those victories that much more amazing. It’s all worth it.” When her younger sister, Lexie, started looking at UVM for school, Abbey went to the head coach of women’s soccer, Kerry Dziczaniec and introduced herself, putting in a good word for her sibling, said Dziczaniec. “She came to me and introduced herself for her sister,” she said. “We looked into her sister and ended up recruiting her for the team. That interaction helped establish her in my mind as a very classy young person.” Kaknes was a regular over at the Patrick Gym, making herself known to the administration and coaches through her two-time American Women’s Hockey Collegiate Association National Scholar Athlete award, ECAC All-Academic Team membership, and her participation as a student-athlete on the Equity and Student-Welfare Sub-Committee on campus as well involvement in the Student-Athlete Advisory Council, according to the Department of Athletic Communications. One day last spring while at the gym, Dziczaniec suggested she come out and play soccer in the fall alongside her sister, said Kaknes. “It was a running joke we had that I would play soccer,” she added. “I told her to check it out with her sister,” Dziczaniec said. “In the next few weeks she came back to my office and told me her sister thought it was a fine idea and that she’d be out on the field in the fall. “Abbey had such an easy transition period,” she said. “She knew she had to work hard on getting back her soccer skills and by the second or third day of preseason she proved to us why she was on the team. Only an outstanding athlete could pick back up a sport that quickly” After starting for four years on the women’s hockey team, being one of three players to establish a new record at Vermont for career games played with 132 and being named to the Hockey East All-Star Team from Vermont, Abbey Kaknes is an athlete that continues to be recognized, according to Athletic Communications.Recruited to UVM for hockey, Kaknes said she was initially drawn to the school because she knew it was possible for her to play either hockey or soccer if she wanted to.Since women’s hockey was a new Division I program at UVM in 2001, during her first year, Kaknes said she took the opportunity to play and make an impact on the fledgling team as a first-year student.In her junior and senior years she was named captain of the team and in December of 2005 played with the Hockey East All-Star team against the Women’s US Olympic team, which defeated them 5-2.””We were really thrown together and had only two practices prior to the game,” Kaknes said. “The great thing was that we competed with and actually scored on them.””It was beyond amazing to look into the crowd at people who are rooting for you and to know you are representing their dream.””It’s easy to see that Abbey is a passionate person and a natural leader,” Lexie said. “Her passion for not only the game, but all the players helps to encourage everyone to do their best and has allowed her to really succeed in everything she does when she puts her mind to it.”Kaknes hopes to run in the Burlington Marathon in the future, which is a step up from the half marathons she’s ran in the past if her busy agenda would allow it.”You always have to be on top of things and be thinking ahead when you have such a demanding athletic and academic schedule,” said Kaknes. “If you don’t, you’ll get left behind.”In addition to her focus in specialized literacy and learning disability education, Kaknes is using her fellowship through UVM to advise first-year students who wish to major in elementary education programs.”She is honest with everyone, which helps everyone be the best they can be,” Dziczaniec said. “Her matter-of-fact way of talking really proves she is out for the greater good in every situation.”Kaknes related one particular experience that shed light on her athletic career. “I sat down and took my cleats off at the end of one practice and I was overwhelmed with the entire situation. There I was on a collegiate soccer team, something I had never really expected, with my sister sitting next to me and after all the family hockey games and soccer games we went to as kids, we were back there together as athletes.”It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to do what I’m doing right now,” Kaknes said. “I have no regrets and I’m just happy to be at UVM and be a Catamount.”