STORRS, Conn. – Two former members of the UConn women’s ice hockey team signed contracts to play professionally in the Elite Women’s Hockey League overseas in Europe. Forward Brittany Berisoff (Kelowna, B.C.) and defenseman Caitlin Hewes (Stillwater, Minn.) both committed to the Planegg Penguins and will be living and training in Munich, Germany.
“We are proud of Brittany and Caitlin signing professional contracts. They deserve this opportunity and will follow in the footsteps of other alumni who have played in Europe,” head coach Chris MacKenzie said.
The Europe-bound duo, who helped UConn to its first winning record since 2009 last season, both say this will be a one-of-a-kind learning experience.
“I’m most excited about how much I am going to learn throughout the year. I have already learned so much living in the U.S. these past four years so I can’t wait to see what Germany has in store for me,” Berisoff said, “I’m also very excited to start this next chapter with Caitlin because we played together at UConn for four years, so to be able to continue our careers and play professionally together is pretty special.”
Hewes, who captained the Huskies in the 2015-16 season, says she is most excited to not really experience life in another country, “I think living day to day life in another culture will be a really enlightening experience,” she said. “We also get one weekend off a month from games, which we will then have the opportunity to travel to different countries throughout Europe. I'm really excited by the prospect of seeing all these places, especially since I've never been outside of North America.”
While both former Huskies are excited for this next chapter, Berisoff and Hewes both agreed that professional careers were not in their sights until recently.
“I didn't really consider playing professionally, especially abroad,” said Hewes, “to be honest, I wasn't really aware it was an option until later in my college career. I had heard of a few players who made the decision and they seemed like they had incredible experiences so I decided to consider it more seriously.”
Growing up, Berisoff noticed that opportunities to play professionally for women are not as common as they are for men and did not even consider the option until later in her UConn career.
“I started to realize that my hockey career was slowly coming to an end,” she said, “I decided to take this next step because I know multiple people who have played professionally abroad and they had an unreal experience, so I knew that it was the right decision to make for me.”
The recent UConn graduates stated how their experiences as student-athletes at UConn have really helped them become independent and prepared them to take this next step.
“I think that my career at Uconn prepared me for this by making me really independent and comfortable with living further away from home,” said Hewes, “the high intensity of hockey I've been playing and work ethic that Uconn has instilled in me has prepared me for any challenges I may face.”
“I went to prep-school away from home and went to University across the continent. I know that there will be hard times but they are worth it because there will also be many great times. I’m confident that UConn has prepared me for this next step because I have had to become very diligent, hardworking, and independent on and off the ice,” Berisoff said.
Berisoff and Hewes will report for a two week training camp in Northern Italy scheduled to begin on August 27, 2016.