Sara Seiler plays for Carleton University and the German national team. Germany moved up to the premier division and will compete in the world championship in 2012 in Burlington, Vermont. See events on WINIH site for details. In her interview she talks about the challenges of playing in Germany and why she chose Carleton University.
WINIH:How long have you played on national team?
SS: Since 2003
WINIH: Awards and highlights on national team?
SS: I can't really think of any awards, but I was fortunate enough to experience quite a few highlights with the national team. My first world championship in Halifax/CAN in 2004; the successful qualification tournament for Torino and then the Olympics in Torino, Italy in 2006…As well our success in the Div. I Championship meant promotion to the Top Division which took place last year (2011) in Ravensburg/Germany.
WINIH: What do you love about playing the game?
SS: I love hockey, because it is a team sport, it is fast and a lot of fun to play.
WINIH: What were the challenges for a girl playing hockey in your country?
SS: I was lucky enough to experience no difficulties growing up, I was able to play for a boys team in my hometown when I was younger. Once I got older it got a bit more difficult, there are no teams for girls in Germany, only teams for women's of all ages exist. So when I was 14 I started to play with and against women that were a lot older than me. It was particularly difficult, because those teams never got any good ice times and I always had to practice late at night.
WINIH: What do your parents think of how the game has progressed?
SS: I wouldn't necessarily say that my parents are hockey experts. Therefore I'm not sure if they recognize the progressions that have been made. This being said, my parents always love to watch me play and they have been very supportive throughout my whole career and I'm very thankful for that.
WINIH: Why did you choose to play in Canada and specifically Carleton?
SS: After the Olympics in 2006 I wanted to play in North America for a change and a new experience, so I sent a few emails and was lucky enough to find a team that was interested, which was the Ottawa Raiders (a club team that no longer exists). That's why I ended up in Ottawa. After my first year I decided to stay in Canada, because I enjoyed playing here, but I wanted to combine both my studies and hockey, and decided to play and study at Carleton.
WINIH: How does it compare with club hockey in your country?
SS: One difference is that we practice 4x/week on the ice vs. a German club team which usually practices 2x/week. Also the players at a university are somewhat the same age, whereas in Germany it is possible that the age difference on a team is quite wide (players from 14 to 30+ years old).
I think the level of hockey and the quality of players are not that much different (comparing Carleton and top club teams in Germany), but I haven't played for a club team in Germany for quite a while, so I don't know if it has changed. But the biggest difference is that there a lot more high quality teams in Canada and a lot more quality players, which leads to a lot more competition amongst players and that's why Canada is a lot better than Germany.
WINIH: What is a typical day? How much school and how much hockey?
SS: I usually got 15 hours of class in a week. Some days I don't have any classes; other days I have 6 hours of class except Monday's; we practice every day for about 4 hours (off-ice and on-ice).
WINIH: Who is your favourite female player and why?
SS: Hmm, there are a lot of good female players; it's hard to pick a favourite. but if I would have to pick one, it would be Jenni Hiirikoski (from Finland), she's one of the best defence in female hockey, I think, and I’ve been fortunate enough to play with her on the same team at the IIHF high performance camp last summer. She was a great teammate, role model and captain there for team blue.
WINIH: Who are the leaders in women's hockey in your country and what are they doing?
SS: I would consider a few players: Susann Goetz, our team captain, she's in the sports corps of the German army and is able to focus all her effort in her training and is playing for the OSC Berlin in the German "Bundesliga."
Viona Harrer, she playing for a men's team, the Erding gladiators in the "Oberliga". She's also in the sports corp of the German army and I would also consider Maritta Becker as a leader for our sport, she's one of the best players Germany had a few years ago, she's now coaching the U-18 national team.
Our national team coach, Peter Kathan has also done a lot for women's hockey in Germany.
WINIH: What is the challenge now for women in your country compared to 5 years ago?
SS: Since I haven't been in Germany the last few years, I’m not up to date, but I think it's still hard to get good ice-time for women team. Plus it might be hard to find a top club team that is close to your hometown, so some players have to travel quite a bit for games and practices.
WINIH: Germany is in the premier division this year for world championship; tell us about the team
SS: I think we have a pretty good mix of young and experienced players, even though the roster hasn't been named yet and some decisions still need to be made. However we're the team that just got promoted to the top division so our goal is to stay up in the top division. Our captain, Susann Goetz is one of the most experienced players on our team.