Miss Virginia Tara Wheeler Interview

The Q And A With Miss Virginia: The Coolest Hockey Goalie You'll Ever Meet

3/12/09 in NHL   |   100%InjuryRate   |   1283 respect

We’re pleased to bring you our latest interview with Tara Wheeler, the current Miss Virginia. Tara competed in the Miss America Pageant in January where she was named a Quality of Life finalist, an honor given to the eight contestants who have done the most in their communities to improve the lives of others. And guess what? She’s also a former hockey goalie who played at Penn State. Tara’s combined her role as Miss Virginia with her passion for hockey to create unique shootouts for charity. She took the time out of her busy schedule to speak with us about how she became a hockey addict, how she’s breaking stereotypes, and what it’s like to face an NHL player in a shootout.

How did you become interested in hockey?

I grew up in a military family and when I was in the third grade my dad was stationed in Fort Devins, Massachusetts, which is a lot better place to start playing hockey than in Virginia. That’s around the same time that the Mighty Ducks movies came out and anyone who knows hockey knows the Mighty Ducks movies and the character Julie the Cat who was the girl goalie, and I saw the movies and came home and told my parents I was going to be a female goalie like Julie the Cat and they said all right.

What teams did you follow growing up?

I followed pretty much anybody who was on TV growing up since we moved around so much. I didn’t really have a specific team that I followed. I was the only one in my family that was interested in hockey so it’s not like my brother or my dad or someone had a team that I would root for. Since I moved to Virginia, of course I follow the Washington Capitals, since they’re the hometown team.

You’ve been playing hockey for a number of years, on a number of levels. At what point in your hockey career did you say to yourself “You know what, I’m pretty good at this.”

Growing up I played all with boys pretty much, and I knew that I could hang with the guys, and the people at my local rink in Virginia said you know the open tryouts for the women’s 2002 Olympic team are coming up and they’re up in Massachusetts, it’s the closest one, we really think you should go and it would be a great experience. And so I went there, and it was my first time playing competitively with other women and I felt like I held my own. So I knew then that college hockey was something I wanted to do.
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