Northern Star: Cassie McClure
For this week's segment, meet a UWS women's hockey player who's just thankful she has the chance to go out and play hockey every day.
SUPERIOR, Wis. – Duluth Northern Stars girls hockey alum Cassie McClure always knew she wanted to stay close to home for college.
“It’s been pretty surreal so far. It’s a dream come true playing so close to home and having so much support here from my teammates and coaches, and having my family so close, it’s just been awesome,” McClure said.
And she’s making her presence known as a freshman on the Wisconsin-Superior women’s hockey team, scoring her first collegiate goal in her second game.
“It was unexplainable to put into words. It was amazing having the support of my teammates, they made it so special and my coaches, everyone was just so happy. It was great to get one at home,” McClure said.
“We always look for freshman to come in and make a stand in their play. We gave her opportunities early and she took those opportunities and right now, she’s earning that position,” UWS women’s hockey head coach Dan Laughlin said of McClure.
“In perfect Cassie form, she was going to show to everyone that she can play college hockey. Even this summer, she was working her butt off because she wanted to prove that she was good enough to play at that level and she did in her first game, first shift,” Duluth Northern Stars head coach Jamie Plesha added.
But there was a time that McClure was unsure if she’d be able to play college hockey or even play again at all.
“One day I actually fainted on the ice and that’s when I knew that something serious was wrong and I had to step away from the game,” McClure said.
In eighth grade, McClure was diagnosed with Lyme disease and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, or POTS, which targets circulation and blood flow in the body, forcing her to quit all sports.
“It was one of the hardest times of my life. I had to really discover what life was outside of hockey. That’s all I knew. It was definitely eye–opening to what’s important in life, because hockey’s just a game, but never take it for granted,” McClure said.
“For her I know it was really tough because she wanted to just go, go go. She’s a go–getter and she wanted to just get on the ice and go and she couldn’t and it was a big learning curve for her,” Plesha added.
After her diagnosis, McClure spent time serving as team manager for the Northern Stars. For two years, McClure sat on the bench cheering on her team. But eventually, McClure would get back on the ice.
“I had to pretty much retrain my heart to get back on the ice, retrain my body, it took a lot of hard work, took a long time. It was a dream come true. I never realized how much I was in love with the game until I got back out there,” McClure said.
“She learned about herself, about her body, about what she can and can’t do and kind of her limits. And then she was able to figure out how to work to get back to her maximum strength. It was one of those cool moments when she finally got to play a full game of varsity,” Plesha said of McClure.
After finally returning to hockey, McClure was named captain of the Northern Stars for her junior and senior seasons.
“Cassie’s one of those kids that all the girls look up to her. She pushes every kid around her and she’s always looking for the best in everyone. And she leads by example as well. She’s one of the hardest workers I know so not only her skills on the ice and work ethic on the ice, but off the ice with the girls,” Plesha said.
And midway through her junior year, McClure had the opportunity to do something that she thought was gone: she committed to playing college hockey right here at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.
“I thought I was never going to play hockey all together, ever again so being here I’m extremely grateful and blessed for every moment,” McClure said.
“Cassie’s a really good hockey player. She’s been through some challenges in her life but she shows great perseverance. It’s great having someone from Duluth and the Twin Ports area to join our team. We’re very fortunate to have her,” Laughlin said.
McClure said she still fights some effects from her Lyme disease and POTS.
“I get really bad joint pains still and my fatigue is still there but nothing compared to what it used to be. It’s hard mentally more than physically honestly. I worry about it a lot, but I just try to take it day by day and do what I can every day,” McClure said.
So for now, McClure is proving that one obstacle can’t take away your dream.
“When I’m out here I truly feel like I’m me and I’m not the disease anymore. I get to just do what I love,” McClure said.