Annie Pankowski's place on the Badgers' roster is set, but
the freshman is battling for a spot on Team USA alongside
future teammates and those that paved the way at UW
BY A.J. HARRISON • UW ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS
hen Wisconsin women's hockey freshman Annie Pankowski
found out she earned an invitation to the United State Women's National Team Selection
Camp on June 17-23, she was in disbelief.
"I had to ask to be excused from my high school
science class because the director of women's
hockey (Reagan Carey) and the head coach (Katy
Stone) wanted to talk to me on the phone," Pankowski said. "After I hung up the phone, I had to
sit on the curb and take a couple seconds to analyze what just happened."
"It was not easy to go back into class as the biggest opportunity I have ever had was just presented
to me. My heart was racing and I couldn't sit still."
Pankowski, a 5-foot-9 forward from Laguna
Hills, Calif., has enjoyed tremendous success on
the ice. She was named the 2013 Junior Women's
Hockey League's Player of the Year after notching
58 goals and 44 assists for 102 points while playing
for the JWHL champion North American Hockey
Academy. She also has experience playing for the
Red, White and Blue, as she played in the 2012
IIHF Women's World U18 Championship, where
the U.S. took home the silver medal and Pankowski was named one of the three best players of the
tournament for Team USA.
"Playing for the U.S. U18 team was my first experience putting on that holy USA jersey," Pankowski
said. "Playing at the highest level, under the strongest pressure was an experience that has shaped
my career. It was my first indication of 'Look, this
is where you belong, what you are meant to do.'
"It has definitely pushed me to become better
since wearing that jersey with 'USA' on the chest.
The jersey and the title definitely forces you to hold
yourself to a higher standard."
However, this time when Pankowski puts the
USA jersey on, she will be the second-youngest
player of the 41 competing to represent the U.S.
at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Among the invitees, 13 players are from the 2010
U.S. Olympic Team. Almost all of the players beside Pankowski enter camp with at least one year
of college experience.
"All these girls have played a year or more in
college and some even have Olympic experience,"
Pankowski said. "It was hard imagining that I was
in the same category as these girls who were my