Tatum Skaggs

Sport: Women’s hockey

Age: 19

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Hartland, Wis.

Major: Special education

 

Question: Let’s start in Hartland, which I have learned is a Milwaukee suburb, about 25 miles due west. What kind of place is it? Does it truly represent the Heartland?

Answer: Hartland is a very small town where life is a little bit slower. Everywhere you look it’s either cows in the field or people hanging out on the lakes.

Q: Were you born and raised there, or did your family move in from elsewhere?

A: I was born in the next town over but raised in Hartland and lived there until I moved to college.

 

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Q: What can you tell us about the Skaggs clan?

A: My parents are Brian (a businessman) and Amy (president of the Skaggs family). I have two older brothers, Taylor and Trevor, and three younger siblings, Tori, Trenton and Tyson.

Q: And which of these is responsible for getting you involved in ice hockey?

A: My oldest brother Taylor was an amazing role model. Whatever he did, I wanted to do. Taylor played hockey and lacrosse from a young age and continued through high school until he went to play DI lacrosse in New York. Since he played hockey, I wanted to play hockey and be just like him.

Q: What do you remember about your early years in hockey?

A: I was about 4 years old when I put on hockey skates. I experimented with every position — from goalie to defense to now being a forward. I remember as a young girl dying to get on the ice to put my gear on again. I never wanted to be away from the rink.

Q: The great thing about women’s hockey is that it shatters the image of the demure, fragile female athlete. Do you enjoy the physical nature of the game?

A: One of the reasons I loved hockey was the physicality of the sport. My aunt owns a dance studio back home, and I tried to get into the dance thing but realized quickly that ballet and tap were not for me due to the daintiness. Plus, with four brothers in the house, I wouldn’t say they took it easy on me playing in the driveway and in the basement. So, yes, being a hockey player who gets bumped and pushed around is something I love about the game.

Q: And yet you seem to have all of your teeth, perfectly aligned. How do you plan to keep them that way?

A: Ha-ha, great question. Being a tough girl, I like to think I have a high pain tolerance but you will never see me step onto any ice sheet without a full cage on because I’m afraid of getting hit in the face and mouth. Of course I have a couple of scars from stitches, but I will always be protective of my teeth.

Q: A little bird named Internet Research told me you played lacrosse for a while; anything else?

A: I was told growing up to play as many sports as you can to use different muscles. Plus, sometimes it’s good to take a break from the ice and do other things. I played soccer and softball until I was about 10 and then picked up lacrosse my seventh-grade year and loved it. I actually considered playing both hockey and lacrosse in college.

Q: You were a goal-scorer in lacrosse and led the Western Collegiate Hockey Association with 23 goals last year as a freshman. To what do you attribute this ability to score with sticks?

A: I have to give credit to where credit is due and as I have a very strong faith in Christ, I am able to do everything through him who gives me strength.

Q: Speaking of the WCHA, what’s your favorite hotspot in the league?

A: I think my favorite team to play is Wisconsin; I know a lot of the girls on the team from growing up with them, and it’s not too far from my backyard.

Q: There are a handful of Canadians on the OSU roster; have you ever, um, reminded them of what happened in the Olympic gold-medal game in February?

A: We love our Canadian girls, but there was a bittersweet feeling in the Olympics. It was kind of the elephant in the room the next day in the locker room, but everyone was supportive of the USA girls who took gold. I have a feeling there are a couple girls in the OSU locker room who will represent their country in the next Olympics.

Q: Were you among the group who helped your north-of-the-border teammates celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving a few weeks back? That’s called a win-win.

A: Three of my six roommates are Canadian and we help them feel special on their Thanksgiving and they do the same for us later this month. It’s hard being away from your family during that holiday so we come together and have pie and talk as if we are one big family.

Q: Speaking of teammates, there is a classic video of you all sitting in the St. Paul airport last March, anxiously waiting for the NCAA selection show to see if you made the tournament. Can you briefly take us through that?

A: That was an experience I will never forget. Our team last year bonded like no other team and we knew that if we were given the opportunity to continue we weren’t going to waste it. And that’s just what we did.

Q: What was it like to beat Boston College in a quarterfinal, then get to experience the Frozen Four?

A: Speechless. That game in Boston I felt like I was on cloud nine. We knew that if we could beat Boston College we would make history for our program. The experience is like no other — from the travel to the food to the fans. I felt like I was on an NHL team.

Q: Earlier in the season, you guys swept Wisconsin at home, when the Badgers were No. 1 in the country; was that especially sweet for a Wisconsin girl?

A: It was amazing to show the country that the OSU women’s hockey team isn’t someone they can walk all over. We never took for granted the team we played, yet we looked forward to beating opponents ranked higher than us.

Q: Are you a Brewers fan? Was it disappointing that that they didn’t make it to the World Series?

A: I like the Brewers and I root for them but I have only been to a handful of games in my lifetime. Baseball isn’t particularly my sport of choice, but I will support any Wisconsin team besides the Badgers.

Q: I’ve yet to meet an athlete who did not have a nickname. I’d suspect you get Tate or Tates a lot; anything else?

A: Tater Tots and Tates is by far what I get called more than my actual name. As a young girl my dad called me Tater Tots and still continues to use it to this day.

rstein@dispatch.com