Jenny Harss is a young German ice hockey goalkeeper who, with a full scholarship at the University of Minnesota Duluth, apart from her studies, plays in the best women's ice hockey league of America. Up to now, there have only been very few German players in German women's ice hockey who were able to play ice hockey in America or Canada.
With its college leagues, America has one of the best women's ice hockey leagues in the whole world.
She started with ice hockey at an already early age together with her brother and father, who at the same time was also ice hockey trainer, and passed through all youth and junior teams of EV Füssen. Jenny also played soccer and tennis but did not want to leave the ice and in her young years very quickly turned out an excellent goalie.
The pretty girl from Allgäu very quickly became a national player and already drew attention to herself at the 2006 Olympic Games with her good performance which, as a consequence, immediately led to offers from abroad.
In the last season in Germany she played for EV Pfronten in the Men's Bavarian League before she was offered a full scholarship by the scouts from Minnesota and exchanged the beautiful Allgäu for Minnesota.
Already in her first year in America she replaced the goalie Kim Martin at the first go and set up a league record with 1138 saves in 39 seasonal games. For her the series of 29 wins also means the second highest number in the history of the university. The culmination of the first season was winning the NCAA championship.
The women's NCAA Championship is somewhat comparable with the men's Stanley Cup and is thus the highest honor in women's ice hockey. Unfortunately, defending the NCAA Championship title did not work out this year but Jenny's firm aim in sight is to move up to the A-Group again together with her women's national team at the B-world championships in Ravensburg from April 11, 2011 to April 17, 2011.
We met Jenny for an interview and asked her a few questions about America and the forthcoming world championships.
Question:We heard that you are "displayed" in the famous Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto?
Jenny:Yes, I believe there is a picture of our last year's NCAA championship. That is quite an honor.
Question:How did you get involved with ice hockey?
Jenny:My mother told me in my early years as a child that one has to be able to ice-skate in Füssen and my brother already played ice hockey, my father was an ice hockey trainer and I was therefore put in the goal practically at once, where I then remained.
Question:How did the move to America come about?
Jenny:I was contacted by email and asked whether I would be interested in coming to Minnesota. Scouts of the university had been at the world championships and they wanted me as goal keeper.
Question: How was the first year away from home?
Jenny:Well, the first year was like crazy, but winning the NCAA championship made everything super. The team and everybody else accepted me very well. Of course, without friends, family, as well as a foreign language I found it somewhat difficult but everybody involved made it really easy for me.
Question:You were given a beautiful champion ring (NCAA Champion), what is written on it?
Jenny:Oh, the ring is specially made for each player, with the name and number on it, there are 5 diamonds for our 5 championships and also the wins and points are engraved. There are even bigger rings at other universities but I am really very proud of it.
Question:You study with a scholarship. What does this mean?
Jenny:I am with a so-called full scholarship, which pays for all the study fees, accommodation, living expenses and sports costs. Precondition is a specific GPA as otherwise I would not be permitted to play. It is obligatory to attend a specific number of courses at the university and it is desired that, apart from sport, one also studies hard. The sports scholarship comes under the sponsorship of amateur sport.
Question:How will it continue after university?
Jenny:Well, I am only able to play and study for four years which means that I can only still study and play ice- hockey in America at the college of Duluth next year, as one study year in Germany has been taken into account. After that I will probably return to Germany.
Question:Is it possible to play as professional player in a women's league?
Jenny:There are women's leagues in Canada and also in America but there are mostly only a few professional players, mostly American and Canadian national players who are paid as professionals for the ice hockey sport. Most players have a normal job AND ice hockey, just like in Germany.
Question:What are you missing in America?
Jenny:Of course, I miss the family and "mom's good food" (grin).
Question:How do you lodge and live in America?
Jenny:Well, I share an apartment together with a few players, where we also cook, train and live. I am quite happy with this life. Other universities offer catering which is also nice but this does not necessarily have to be, because here I also learn for life.
Question:Which famous sports person would you like to meet?
Jenny:I would like to meet Marc-Andre Fleury from Pittsburgh.
Question:How strong is the college league in America?
Jenny:It is really a very strong league. We most certainly have a few female players who, in some cases, would be able to keep up with the shots, tactics and methods of play in the Bavarian league with the men in Germany.
Question:Which are your strong and weak points?
Jenny:Well, this is difficult. Let me think, my play with the blade is not so super, this could be significantly better but otherwise I am a butterfly goalie with very fast reactions.
We wish you all the best, good health and most of all the essential success with the women's national ice hockey team.