A couple of years ago, Alivia Del Basso was rehabbing her knee in her hometown Perth, Australia. Today, you can find her skating with Duluth’s best at Amsoil Arena.
A former figure skater and soccer player, Del Basso started playing boys hockey at age 11. And no, that is not a typo. There wasn’t a girl hockey league available for competition, so Del Basso taught the young gentlemen of Perth a few things about the sport of hockey. After three years (2006, 2008, 2010) of playing with the junior selects Australian National Team, Del Basso graduated from St. Mary’s Anglican Girls School. She had previously planned on leaving for the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy in Kelowna, British Columbia to finish up her last year of education. However, due a knee injury, her plans were delayed.
It was after a year at the academy and a run with Australia’s senior national team for the second time that Del Basso’s coach convinced her to pursue hockey in college.
“Ever since I knew it was an opportunity, I knew it was a goal I wanted to achieve,” Del Basso said.
She proceeded to send out an assemblage of various highlight clips to different university coaches within the United States. UMD’s head coach, Shannon Miller, was one of those coaches.
“Coach Shannon called one day saying they were really interested, and things kind of followed from there,” Del Basso said.
Things surely have already started to fall into place for the freshman exercise science major. Despite her youth she has seen regular minutes and opportunities out on the ice.
“Coach is very fair,” Del Basso said. “Although I’m not up to the same skill quite yet, I think she sees hard work and good attitude, and I try to bring that.”
In regards to how the hockey program is run, Del Basso couldn’t be happier.
“I hadn’t even imagined it would be like this, we get treated like professionals,” Del Basso said. “Everyone is so into it, everyone wants to help, and the coaches will go out of their way to make sure you understand everything.”
For Del Basso, the program’s willingness to look out for international players, like herself, adds to the attractiveness of UMD women’s hockey.
“To me, the most appealing part of this program is how international it is,” Del Basso said.
The UMD women’s hockey program is, in fact, represented by quite the diverse group of women.
“Six of the players speak English as a second language,” Del Basso said. “That kind of diversity adds a certain quality to the team.”
The coaches and players definitely go out of their way to make things comfortable with the team, and although UMD is a long way from home, Del Basso still gets to experience a sense of family.
“Compared to the teams I’ve been on in the past, we’re super close,” Del Basso said. “We’re an accepting group, and I think that makes it more of a family environment.”
Perhaps that’s one of the most inspiring aspects of a UMD women’s hockey program that has won five out of the last 11 national titles. Not that it necessarily helps make UMD feel like Perth, Australia – but for Alivia Del Basso, it helps make UMD feel a little more like home.
BY CALAHAN SKOGMAN firstname.lastname@example.org