Katie Davis remembers being inspired watching the U.S. Women’s Hockey team during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
She was holding her own against the boys while playing in the Idaho Junior Steelheads Youth Hockey program. There wasn’t a girls team in the program and watching the Americans win a silver medal opened her eyes to pursuing a career on an all-women’s hockey team.
Less than six years later, the Meridian native was representing the United States in international competition.
Davis made the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Hockey team over the summer and appeared in all five games for the Americans at the IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Championship in Bratislava, Slovakia, over the Christmas holiday. The tournament culminated with a 2-1 overtime win against Canada in the Gold Medal game on Jan. 2.
“The goal in the future is Olympics and this was a good stepping stone in terms of my first international tournament and getting my foot in the door with USA Hockey and the coaches,” said Davis. “The relationships I built with the different coaches and getting familiar with the program is big. USA Hockey has a gold standard and having that opportunity being young is very special.”
While the forward didn’t record any stats at the tournament, making the team this year was extra special for Davis. She had tried out in previous years at open tryouts with the U-18 team, but didn’t make it until her final year of eligibility. Davis, who turned 18 last week, now sets her eyes on the U22 team, whose tryouts are invitation only. She hopes that by getting a chance to showcase her talents on an international level before aging out of the U18 level, it will increase her chances of getting one of those invitations.
She also participated in the U18 Rivalry series, a set of three games between the U.S. and Canada played this past August in Lake Placid, New York. Davis appeared in all three games, scoring a goal and recording two assists.
“Going to world championships and having international play opened my eyes to wanting to play hockey,” Davis said. “In USA Hockey there’s three words — hungry, humble, relentless. It’s a lifestyle and as a player and person I’m buying into the USA Hockey mantra. Given the opportunity I’d love to play hockey as long as I can.”
But even if another chance at playing for the United States doesn’t come, Davis and her family made the most of the experience. Her parents, Patty and John, as well as her two older brothers, Matt and Vince, all made the trip to Slovakia to take in the experience.
“We don’t know if she’ll ever wear the stars and stripes again,” Patty Davis, said. “We’d like to see it, but it was on the bucket list. So we went out there and cheered with the other families and we enjoyed the experience.”
To help booster Katie’s career, the Davis family moved from Idaho to Minnesota, where Davis has scored 10 goals and recorded six assists through 13 games of her senior season at Edina High, the three-time defending Minnesota state champions.
The move to Minnesota came before her junior season after spending the first two years of her high school career at a boarding school in Rochester, New York, while playing for Selects Hockey Academy. The development-based showcase program has college coaches from around the country come and watch. The program helped Davis improve as a player, but something was missing.
“For me it was hard being away from home, so my sophomore year we had a lot of different discussion of how I was doing and what we wanted in the future,” she said. “I knew I wanted to keep playing hockey, but boarding school wasn’t working.”
After a lot of discussion with her parents, they decided to temporarily move to Edina, located just outside Minneapolis, so Davis could live with them and continue playing hockey at a high level. In her first season at Edina, Davis had 22 goals and seven assists in the regular season, and added three goals during the state title run.
“It’s definitely been a whirlwind in 2019 in terms of my hockey success,” Davis said. “But as a person I’ve been doing well. Transferring wasn’t in the plans, but it was important to my personal well being and my family.”
Davis has signed to play in college Minnesota-Duluth, which has won five national titles since 2001. The Bulldogs are coached by Maura Crowell, who is also Davis’s coach with the U.S. U-18 team.
Davis had originally committed to play for Harvard University, but after some financial details fell through, she reopened her recruitment over this past summer.
Crowell was one of the first ones to reach out.
“I hadn’t talked to her before, but I was impressed to my quick response to being available again,” Davis said. “They put their cards on the table quickly, and I was able to get up there soon. I got up there and fell in love with the school. I clicked with the coaches and could see myself fitting in there.”
Getting to play with a program like Minnesota-Duluth could greatly increase Davis’s chances of making it to the Olympics one day. Since women’s hockey became an Olympic sport in 1998, a total of 33 current or former players at Minnesota-Duluth have participated, more than any other women’s NCAA Division I program.
In the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, nine Bulldogs competed for five different nations.
The next Winter Olympics are in two years in Beijing, and while getting on a fast track could get her there by 2022, Davis said it’s more realistic that she can get there in 2026 in Milan and Cortina, Italy.
“I think Beijing, I would like to say that’s the goal, but it’s a little fast,” she said. “I definitely think I’m in the right birth year, I’ll have a year and a half of college play under my belt if that were to happen. It will be interesting as I go through college and continue my career and hopefully stay with USA Hockey. After that I’d have to look at my career and see if I want to play professionally to help with my chances for 2026.”