Steamboat teen headed to national hockey tournament | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat teen headed to national hockey tournament

Austin Colbert

— Unlike her older sister, Kira, Renee Lorenzen never embraced the world of leotards and graceful showmanship that is figure skating. She loved being on the ice, however, and one day, about six years ago, her father, Dave Lorenzen, showed her another way.

"I used to figure skate, and the best part about it was getting a line of ice on your skates and throwing it at your parents at the end. It was dreadful," Renee Lorenzen said. "I liked going fast, though. So, I decided to quit figure skating, and one year, my dad picked me up a pair of hockey skates. My first day out on hockey skates, I said, 'This was it. This is what I love.'"

Renee Lorenzen, now 16 and a sophomore at Steamboat Springs High School, has never wavered from this love. Her family has predominantly played tennis, with Kira currently a member of the women's tennis team at Colorado College. But when her father introduced her to hockey, a sport he had only recently become interested in, recreationally, everything changed.

"Hockey fit her more than figure skating," Dave Lorenzen said. "It fits her personality."

Renee Lorenzen began competing in ice hockey in the Mountain States Girls Hockey League as one of Steamboat's U12 players. Then, at the tail end of her second season playing U14, she was introduced to the Colorado Select Girls Hockey Association, the premier youth hockey organization for girls in the state.

Despite her youth, she spent the next season playing U19 AA hockey for the Select. Then, this season, she earned a roster spot on the U16 AAA team, the top tier of youth hockey.

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Now, Renee Lorenzen will have the chance to experience the country’s greatest stage for youth hockey when she travels to Minneapolis next weekend for the 2016 Youth Hockey National Championships. Her U16 team defeated a team from Texas a few weeks ago in the district championship to earn the trip to nationals.

"It's basically the cream of the crop. I'm just expecting to go out there, play as we normally do and try to hold our own," Renee Lorenzen said. "I'm terrified. Thinking about it, I always get nervous, but as soon as the whistle blows, it's out of the system. It's going to be a crazy experience."

The Colorado Select is no stranger to national tournaments, though this will be a first for Renee, and it has taken plenty of dedication to position her for the chance.

The Select team she plays for trains out of Littleton, which translates to a three-hour drive from Steamboat just for practice. Fortunately for her, Dave Lorenzen is a trained pilot and owns a small aircraft, which he uses at times to get her back and forth from Denver.

Not only that, the Select mostly competes in the Junior Women's Hockey League and often travels to the East Coast for tournaments. The season, which started in mid-August, is long and grueling, the girls often playing three to five games per weekend.

"It's a lot of traveling. She has to work hard to keep up in school, but she is really dedicated," said Patrice Lorenzen, Renee's mother. "She is pretty good at it. She is hoping to play in college. That's partly why we decided to make the commitment to play down there. This league on the East Coast gets a lot of exposure to college recruiters. They come and watch the showcases that the JWHL puts on."

The national tournament, which runs from March 31 to April 4, will also host college coaches from across the country. Everything from smaller Division III schools to major Division I programs will be present to see what the future of women's hockey looks like.

Renee Lorenzen wants to be part of that future. She has already opened dialogue with various college programs, and the national tournament will be her best chance, so far, to show those coaches what she can do on the ice. A dedicated student and talented defender, Renee Lorenzen doesn't see college hockey as a way to pay for college or reach anything greater in the hockey world.

Instead, she sees it as a life experience she wants to have.

"I want the friends; I want the memories," she said. "It's just a such a great opportunity, and it's going to open so many doors, and it's going to allow me to meet new people."

Renee Lorenzen will have to either play U19 AAA or U19 AA her final two seasons of high school. She hopes to make the Tier 1 AAA team to better prepare herself for playing in college. That, along with guidance from Steamboat hockey icons and coaches Ryan Dingle, Dave Strang and Kent Foster, and her newfound passion for fitness and weightlifting, leaves her parents with no doubt she can achieve whatever she dreams.

"She has done really well at school. She applies that same, 'I need to really work hard at something to get where I want to be,'" Dave Lorenzen said. "It's definitely a commitment from the parents and on her part, but as long as she is willing to work hard for her dreams, we are here to support her."

To reach Austin Colbert, call 970-871-4204, email acolbert@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Austin_Colbert