From backwoods to backchecks for Ross

Bridget Haeg

For most University students, the campus is a big place.

But when your hometown’s population consists of four families, it gets just a little bit bigger.

Bobbi Ross, a freshman forward on the Minnesota women’s hockey team, is its only Canadian, hailing from tiny Verwood, Saskatchewan, Canada.

“There’s about 17 people that live there,” Ross said.

“Now that I’m gone, there’s 16.”

Wherever she went to school, she was going to see more people on a given day than she was used to, but she takes it in stride.

“I had enough support everywhere that (the transition) wasn’t very difficult,” she said.

Now, Ross is trying to find her place with the defending national champions, joining the Gophers’ power play with experienced Olympians Natalie Darwitz and Krissy Wendell.

“She’s basically in front of the net, getting the snot kicked out of her, (but) she’s willing to have that role to better the team,” Darwitz said.

After playing with the boys until age 13, Ross learned quick thinking on the ice – if anything, to avoid a concussion.

“I’m a fairly physical player. I’m used to playing with the boys teams, (so) I learned to take a hit,” Ross said.

Assistant coach Brad Frost agreed Ross can stand her ground.

“(In North Dakota last weekend) people tried to run into her, and they kept falling down,” Frost said.

Not only did Ross prevent goals, she helped run up the score too, tallying four assists to finish out the series.

“I was relieved after the first game because it felt good. There was so much adrenaline,” Ross said.

Part of that adrenaline might have come from the familiar Canadian faces at the arena.

Her parents drove eight hours to watch her compete against Sioux freshmen Cami Wooster and Cara Wooster, two of Ross’ teammates last year at College Mathieu, her old school in Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan.

“I was super nervous for like four days leading up to it, but it was a lot of fun,” Ross said.

While last weekend’s series only began her college career, her teammates said they already see Ross transcending her freshman standing.

“She knows what her role is, and she knows what to do, and she doesn’t always need to be in the limelight,” Darwitz said.

Ross did get her chance in the limelight back in Canada, when she played for Team Saskatchewan in the 2002 and 2004 Esso Nationals, in which she received a most valuable player award this year.

For now, Ross will focus her freshman season on contributing any way she can.

“I’m really looking forward to winning a national championship before my four years are done here,” Ross said.

No doubt, the whole town will be watching – really.