Florida hockey player shows perseverance to achieve her dream

Like many young athletes, Molly Pedone has faced adversity since the outbreak of COVID-19. However, she had to overcome additional hurdles just to keep playing the sport she loves. It was a long journey with a few bumps in the road and bruises along the way, but she will tell you it was worth it.

How the journey began

Pedones’ parents, Suzanne and Michael, had their first date at an ice hockey game. His mother is a former tennis player and a huge hockey fan, so Michael thought it was wise to take her to a hockey game on their first date and it worked.

When Molly was young, she begged them to let her play hockey. When she was nine, they finally agreed, however, this is considered a late start for hockey players reaching a high level. She began taking skating lessons with local skating coach Cindy Sokolis and learned to play at the Tampa Bay Skating Academy (TBSA). She immediately loved being on the ice and was a bit of a natural. Mr Pedone says that after just two months, she seemed to “get it”.

Molly Pedone earned a Division I scholarship to Robert Morris University, but after the school dropped its ice hockey programs, she found her way to the University of Utica.

At the age of 10, Pedone made the Under-14 (U14) team. Her parents took her to city rinks and travel tournaments around the country while she mostly played for the Florida Lady Vipers. Knowing she had a lot of catching up to do, Molly eventually started home schooling so she could spend more time training and perfecting her craft.

Referring to the time she spent growing up and learning to play in the Tampa area, she says, “I’m grateful for that. We didn’t have a lot of girls’ teams back then, so we played against the boys (often), and sometimes we beat them. This experience made her a better player. She loves being here in Tampa during the off season; she says, “There are tons of ice rinks and resources here (nowadays).”

Pedone also says, “(It’s) amazing to see a lot of youth hockey programs compared to when I was younger. Refreshing to see how much the game has grown for girls.

Shattuck St. Mary’s

If you mention the name Shattuck St. Mary’s just about anyone in the hockey world, they’ll know what you’re talking about. “Shattuck”, as it is commonly called, is a preparatory school and development program in Faribault, MN. It is one of the best prep schools in the United States and a major pipeline for hockey players to get a college scholarship.

During her senior year at Shattuck, Molly tore her labrum and required surgery. However, she impressed scouts and recruiters enough to earn a scholarship to Robert Morris University. In addition to the incredible competition and hockey environment, Pedone says, “Shattuck has prepared me for being away from home, as well as for the cold weather at Robert Morris.”

To college

Robert Morris is a Division 1 school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pedone helped his team advance to the last eight before being knocked out. Then, she was faced with another roadblock. Robert Morris decided to cut their men’s and women’s hockey programs after the 2020-21 season, and she was unsure if his career was over or not. However, she was recruited by a coach from Utica College, which is now the University of Utica.

After playing a full season for the Utica Pioneers, in which they lost in the second round of the playoffs, the coach who recruited her took a job at another school. So again, she wasn’t sure what was going to happen next.

However, she will be back in Utica for her junior year and will spend the offseason in Tampa training hard and working on her skills. Pedone says: “I’m pretty small so I want to get stronger, do whatever I can to help the team.” She has the option of an additional year of eligibility due to COVID policies.

What’s in the future?

Molly is returning to Utica in the coming weeks and will begin skating without the coaching staff the first week of September. Official training begins the first week of October. Pedone is studying political science and hopes to get a master’s degree in public policy.

She says, “I would love to do something with hockey if I can’t play (at a higher level). I would love the opportunity to work with an NHL team or do something with coaching, recruiting or working in the front office of a college or professional team.

Catherine J. Martinez