Proudly representing the Czech national women’s team as its captain, Alena Polenska brings a great combination of skill, speed and leadership. Donning the No. 9, Polenska is proud to be part of the first Czech team competing at the IIHF Women’s World Championships.
“It is awesome. It will be a great experience. We worked hard for sure. For years, we worked to make it to the top division. The fact that it happened last year is a great success for us.”
Serving as the captain of the Czech squad is a great point of pride for her. “Definitely. Words can’t explain it.” With the responsibility of being the captain, she enjoys the enthusiasm that the younger players on the team bring to the ice, “I love the kids on the team. I am always excited to see all of them.”
A growing trend among many European players, Polenska had the opportunity to compete at the collegiate level in the United States. She would play with the Brown Bears of NCAA Division I. Of note, the Bears are one of the oldest collegiate women’s hockey programs in the US.
“Playing at Brown is definitely a good experience. We compete at Division I in the ECAC conference. It is very competitive, especially against teams like Cornell, Dartmouth and Harvard.”
In her first year at Brown, Polenska played for head coach Digit Murphy. She was the first women’s hockey coach in the NCAA to win 200 and 300 career games, respectively. “Playing for her was interesting. She definitely kept things unique. There was something new every day, something you have not experienced.”
Polenska was not the only player on the Czech national team to have played for Murphy. Katerina Mrazova played for Murphy during the 2012-13 Canadian Women’s Hockey League season. Mrazova would become the first European to win the Clarkson Cup, something Polenska is proud of, “For sure it is awesome! Anytime someone from our team can accomplish something, we think it is great.”
The opportunity to play in North America is one that Polenska finds helpful. “North America helps for sure. Players have a different experience. You can bring it back to the national team and it helps. It is also important for the Czech league to take that next big step.”
While playing for the Brown Bears is notable for Polenska, another hockey experience in the US stands out. She would play for Wyoming Seminary prep school in Pennsylvania. “Those were the best four years of my life. Everyone says college was but those four years truly were.”
“I still keep in touch with teammates and teachers, it was awesome. Our coaches and teachers were dorm parents on the weekends. They were like our friends, but they also knew when to be adults.”
Although Polenska did not speak English upon arriving to Wyoming Seminary, the learning conditions there made the transition a much easier one. “They had a great ESL (English as a second language) program and it made it easier. I went for summer school and all the other students were studying ESL too. It makes you feel at ease and you don’t feel bad if you make a mistake. Everyone was in the same boat as there was a bit of a culture shock.”
During her time at Wyoming Seminary, she had the opportunity to play with fellow Czech teammate Lucie Povova. While Povova would play at the collegiate level with Northeastern (in Boston), the two would still remain good friends.
“I try to make it to a few of her games. I have also watched her games online. It is always awesome to see another Czech player compete in a different country. When it is someone from your international team doing it, it is awesome. All the players on the team support each other.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”