Jenny Scrivens: The NWHL is a “Perfect Fit”
When Jenny Scrivens takes the ice with the NWHL’s New York Riveters this fall, it will be the first competitive hockey she has played in five years. It’s a challenge she is excited about, along with the chance to help women’s hockey grow at all levels. For Scrivens, the league is a “perfect fit” because in addition to playing, she can contribute as a public relations professional.
Hockey has given Scrivens opportunities since she was a child, from personal skills like time management and self-discipline to traveling all over southern California with her club team and moving on to Cornell University, where she played 52 games between 2006 and 2009 with a .906 save percentage.
Cornell is also where she met her husband Ben Scrivens, who is a goaltender as well. Ben plays in Edmonton with the NHL’s Oilers; Jenny will be playing in New York. They’ll have to manage a household with two professional goaltenders and a hectic schedule. That’s nothing new to Jenny Scrivens, though. She grew up dealing with a crowded sports schedule.
Currently she is in Edmonton, preparing for the upcoming season. InGoal was able to catch up with her and talk about getting back on the ice, the state of women’s hockey, and the opportunities the NWHL provides.
When did you first start playing goal?
Jenny Scrivens: I started playing goal when I was about six years old in our driveway, playing street hockey with my sister and two older brothers. We grew up playing hockey and it progressed from street hockey to roller hockey. I joined a roller hockey league when I was six and I played roller hockey for a few years and I was always the goalie. My family jokes that I was the youngest so they threw me in net and I didn’t have a choice but I did enjoy it. At about ten years old my sister and I made the switch to ice hockey and I’ve been playing ever since.
Did you ever play other sports?
Jenny: I tried to play every other sport growing up. I played mostly tennis and soccer, but I tried everything, like t-ball. I have a twin sister and we played on the same team. From age eight or nine all the way to twelve, we played club soccer and club hockey at the same time and that took us all over southern California.
We had to drive two hours to our hockey practices and two hours back. That on top of all the soccer games and stuff was too much. At some point we had to choose just for our own sanity. We stuck with competitive hockey and continued to play tennis just for fun.
But I think it’s really important for athletes to play two sports, especially [since] hockey is such a long season. I think to stay mentally sharp it gives you a little bit of a break during the summer and prevents you from getting burned out.
When did you get your first goalie coach?
Jenny: I think my first goalie coach was Chanda Gunn. She played out of the same California Select club team that I did. She went on to play at Northeastern and she was on the Olympic team one year. But there was a year when she had a concussion and she had to leave school and she came home and coached us. She was my first goalie coach.
But she was only able to stay for a year before she went back to university. I didn’t really have any one particular goalie coach throughout my career. I had whoever came out and volunteered with the team or whoever we could find in southern California.
How did you get the technical help that you needed?
Jenny: I just talked with the other goalies on my team and we shared tips and techniques. But it’s very different from what I’m doing right now and from how kids are growing up today. I think that goalies share more information today and it’s more widely available. But for me growing up it was a lot of trial and error.
I think learning on your own through trial and error reinforces the positives a lot more than someone just teaching you what’s right. It’s a longer process, that’s for sure. For me, I can remember trying to pick apart pieces of my game. You know, things I wanted to touch on. You can’t look at a whole game and get better right away. But with each game you kind of take one or two learning experiences from it and move on. I think that helped my game.
What kinds of things are you working on this summer specifically?
Jenny: I’m working on recoveries. The last time I played competitively was in college so that was about five years ago. The game has changed a lot. Even in talking with Ben, his game’s changed and developed and improved so much in the past five years that I’m trying to play catch up.
So I’m working on recoveries–getting up with the right leg, keep pushing over to my post, following the rebound, that sort of thing–but doing it as efficiently as possible. What I found with my game is that I was often doing the right thing but I wasn’t doing it as efficiently as I possibly could so I was wasting a little bit of time and energy.
I think that’s something that goalies at all levels are working on constantly.
Jenny: Exactly. And that’s really helped me, because the first few times I got out in some private lessons, we’d work on some very basic skating movements. There was a part of me that was kind of thinking, “oh this is embarrassing,” but it was very nice to have Ben remind me that “goalies at my level still work on this stuff. We work on it every single day and it doesn’t change.” That helped me a lot.
How much do you use your husband Ben as a resource in preparing for the season?
Jenny: We both try to not talk hockey all the time. I know during the season it will probably be a little bit less. Right now he’s been helpful while I’m picking apart my game and getting back into the swing of things but I think that during the season, previously he’s been really good at leaving work at the office.
We’ll talk about certain things but it can’t be all hockey. Just as in any other profession. My parents were both in medicine and they worked together at the same office. They didn’t come home and talk about all their procedures and surgeries from that day. They may talk about a few things but for the most part they left work at work.
How have you stayed ready in the five years since you played college hockey?
Jenny: Since I left college I’ve been coaching a lot, so I’ve been working with goalies and I’ve been on the ice. I have not been playing competitively. That’s the one thing I’ve been working on this whole summer to get ready for the NWHL. Getting back into playing shape, because I’ve stayed in shape doing other things, playing other sports and working out. But it’s not the same as getting on the ice and being in net.
But I’ve been around hockey since I left. I’ve watched all of Ben’s games and I’ve been coaching and watching those girls games, so I think it’s kind of helped me learn from the game and learn from the developments that goaltending has made in the past five years. Now it’s a matter of me implementing it from what I’ve seen.
So it has helped me that I’ve been working with kids and seeing things. I’ve still been a part of the game, I just haven’t been playing competitively.
Has coaching affected your approach to practice or your game?
Jenny: I think coaching has helped me realize how important the little things are, the little habits that we develop during practice. [That’s] something I’ve been able to identify working with some of the younger players and it’s something I’ll certainly carry forward when I start practicing with the Riveters in a few weeks.
What is your biggest strength as a goalie?
Jenny: I like to think that I’m pretty cool, calm, and collected back there. It’s part of my demeanor off the ice and I try to do it on the ice too. So whether the game’s going really well [or not] I like to think that I’m a calming force back there. I try not to let things get too high or not let them get too low. I like to be a pretty steady rock back there.
What is the most important skill for a goaltender?
Jenny: I think being able to track the puck and to be able to direct the defense from the back end. I think that’s very important.
Are you a vocal goaltender?
Jenny: I try to be very vocal. I’m not that chatty by nature but it’s really helpful to be directive, so I try and be as directive as possible.
Why did you decide to take this opportunity with the NWHL?
Jenny: I first heard about the league in the spring–so a few months ago. When I heard about how they wanted the league to run and how they wanted to pay the players and grow the league and grow the game it really connected with me a lot. It really resonated with me. It was something I wanted to be part of. Not just as a player but working with the league doing their PR and communications.
So the fact that I’m able to do both was just the perfect fit. This is exactly something I’ve been working for in my career, it’s exactly what I’ve been training for since I was little. It was my dream to grow up and play in the NHL. And to play in a women’s league wasn’t really a possibility before this league.
If an opportunity came up to play in a men’s professional league, would you take it?
Jenny: I think I would consider it but right now my focus is on the NWHL and growing women’s hockey specifically.
There has been some debate in the women’s hockey community that players leaving for men’s league ends up hurting the women’s game…
Jenny: Goalies are the most likely to make that jump from women’s hockey to men’s hockey, especially at the pro level. But I also think that female goalies who play in the men’s game bring a level of awareness to the game that sometimes we can’t reach with just women’s hockey. So I really respect that part of it.
There are a lot of women who are making a name for themselves in men’s professional leagues. That should help grow the women’s game. I think that young women who are following those leagues see that there’s a female player and they think that they can do that one day too. I see it as a positive in terms of gaining popularity and growing the game
Are the options for women changing in general?
Jenny: I’ve seen the growth of women’s hockey first hand. When I was growing up in southern California there weren’t that many teams for women to play sports. That’s why I had to drive two hours to practice and back. There was only one team in southern California.
And when I moved back a few years ago when Ben was playing for the Kings I was able to see all the new clubs. There were two, three, four teams in each age group at different levels. I was able to see how much it’s grown in southern California. And I’ve seen it in college hockey. There are lots more Division-I and Division-III teams, there are a lot more opportunities to play after college and it just keeps growing.
#tbt Cornell Hockey ?? A photo posted by Jenny Scrivens (@jennyscrivens) on