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A Natural Love
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A Natural Love

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by Norm Newell
Photography by Jennifer Guenther Photography

It’s Minnesota in the winter time and naturally, it’s cold outside. So naturally you would want to play a game inside that’s as cold as the ice outside, because that’s what Minnesotans do. It’s Minnesota hockey and if boys can play it, girls can too. So naturally, if you’re a girl and your girlfriends try it, you’ve got to try it too, right? That’s what Amy Jost did in the second grade, and now as a junior at Alexandria High School, she’s a star goalie for their girls hockey team.

How did you get to be a goalie? “I don’t know, I just really wanted to play that position,” says Amy, “In our youth program the coaches let everyone try it and I loved it right away.” Her parents, Rob and Debbie Jost say the same thing. “Amy at a very young age was highly active, showed no fear,” states Mom, Debbie, “When she saw hockey, she wanted to play it so badly.” Dad, Rob added, “During our high school years, both Debbie and I played basketball during the winter months and honestly were hoping she would lean that way. But when we saw her play goalie, with her lack of fear, she was a natural at it. She’s naturally confident and has always felt very comfortable in that position.”

Amy remembers after her parents accepted that she wanted to be a hockey goalie, her Dad would take her down in their unfinished basement and shoot tennis balls at her to get her used to the position and sharpen her reflexes. Well Dad, that sure worked! Amy grew up in hockey the usual way, playing in Alexandria’s U10 (under 10 years of age), U12 and U14 youth leagues similar to those in most Minnesota cities. Her team didn’t win many games in U10, but with Amy’s rapid improvement as a goalie, her teams became more successful also and Amy got noticed. In her U10-U14 years, she was invited to play in the Super Series hockey games, sort of the all-star games of youth hockey in Minnesota. Amy played summer hockey for five years. The summer after her 7th grade year, she was invited to play for the Northern Icebreakers out of Grand Forks, ND, an all-star team that played other top teams in North Dakota and Minnesota. It’s a team of the best of the best. Last year, two girls from that team signed with the University of Minnesota, a top ladies Division I hockey program.

Her high school coach, Blair Hovel has high praise for Amy. “Amy is fundamentally very strong as a goalie and adds the other main ingredient to that which is she’s mentally strong also,” states Hovel. “She’s a good third period goalie, because she doesn’t worry if we get down early in a match, she gets better under pressure and has great confidence in herself and confidence that her teammates will get back in the game.” Hovel chuckled when asked about how Amy does with her teammates. “You’ll see when you talk to her, she’s a very comfortable, social person who can converse and get along with anyone,” remarks the coach. “She’s great at practice and in the locker room; she loves to have fun with her teammates. She knows how to communicate with them on the ice also. She can see all the opposing players coming at her when the other players may not, and a goalie’s direction to her teammates is crucial to a good overall defense.” When asked to name the top aspects of Amy’s play, Coach Hovel stated, “She knows her angles very well, she controls rebounds well and her mental focus never waivers.” When asked about Amy as a person, he went on to say, “Number one, she really gets what being a team player is all about, she loves being a team member and teammate. I also like that she speaks and acts with great enthusiasm for the game. Finally, she’s very coachable; she can talk very comfortably with the coaches and with her teammates.”

Jost started a number of games as a freshman in high school, alternating with another goalie. It’s a philosophy the Alexandria coaches prefer; using more than one goalie throughout the season to ensure they have a strong back-up ready for playoffs. But when playoff time came her freshman year, Amy got the nod and carried the Alexandria Cardinals into the state tournament. In her sophomore year, Amy had knee problems and missed some games, alternating and playing when she could. But at playoff time, it was once again Amy Jost time, and she started all the playoff games. When they made it to the state tournament again, she started all three state games too. The team finished in 6th place and Jost had over 100 saves in the tournament, facing the best players in Minnesota. Having played in so many all-star games against top players, it was nothing she hadn’t seen before.

When asked about her knee issues, Amy shrugs it off nonchalantly, saying she has had several sprains of her MCL since sixth grade and wears a brace during competition. She says she really doesn’t think about it on the ice and doesn’t feel any restrictions on her movement. Because of her knee and her many visits to physical therapy, Amy wants to be a physical therapist after college. The knee issues haven’t stopped her from playing hockey and her second sport, softball. She started on the Alexandria High School softball team as a sophomore and looks forward to it again this coming spring. She’s also played summer fast-pitch softball

and her teams have won the state tournament twice in their division.

Why hockey Amy? “It’s hard for me to put in words, I love everything about the sport,” she says, “I like being around the girls and being on a team and everything else seems to melt away when I step on the ice, I like that feeling.” Yes, but goalie? “I actually love the pressure, I think I do better under pressure,” Amy states, “I like being able to see things happen. The position is really unique, which appeals to me, because you’re by yourself, but you’re an integral part of a team too. That’s kind of cool.”

Although only a junior, Amy knows she wants to go to college somewhere but hasn’t figured out where yet. With her 3.8 GPA and being a member of the Student Council, she has the academic credentials. She put out some feelers to colleges and college hockey coaches but has made no decisions. She tells us, “I do know I definitely would like to play college hockey somewhere if the fit is right.” Naturally.