The hockey career of Rachel Ramsey is a story that writes itself. Her father, Mike, was a member of the 1980 Miracle on Ice, and played over 1,000 games in the National Hockey League after a highly successful career at the University of Minnesota. When Rachel was a youngster, Mike Ramsey worked as an assistant coach for the Minnesota Wild under legendary head coach Jacques Lemaire - meaning Rachel has been exposed to hockey royalty from a very young age, and the sport has been a big part of her life from day one. Growing up in a household so heavily influenced by hockey gave Rachel a certain edge over many kids, but nobody could have predicted the kind of storybook career she would enjoy at the collegiate level.
Long before she became an All-American, Ramsey got a glimpse of increased competition at Minnesota Selects. Rachel fondly remembers representing the South region in 2005 and 2006, and meeting a ton of new people in addition to playing at a high level.
"I remember Selects very fondly,” Ramsey said. "It always was a great weekend back in the day, especially hanging out with everyone at the hotel with the waterpark. It was almost like a vacation.”
Participating in the Selects festival was one of the first steps toward getting Ramsey acclimated to playing alongside kids who have similar goals and passion for the game. Opening the door for opportunities with competitive summer teams helped form countless friendships, and put her on a path that saw her competing with and against the best kids in the state year-round. A few short years later, Ramsey found herself with the opportunity to play college hockey for the most storied women's hockey team in the country and to wear the same jersey her dad did in college.
Growing up in the Minnetonka youth system, Rachel always assumed she would continue playing hockey after high school, but didn't put a whole lot of thought into considering at which level until she was in 10th grade. At that point it was obvious she was cut out for the highest level of competition.
"I never really thought a ton about where I might play in college until sophomore year, when random letters started coming in the mail," Ramsey said.
Rachel narrowed her choices down to a handful of schools by the time she became a high school senior, and saved her official visit to Minnesota for last. After touring the campus and taking a closer look, Rachel knew she wanted to be a Gopher, which is likely one of the best decisions she's ever made.
"As soon as I came to the U it kind of solidified my decision,” Ramsey said, noting that she had also visited Wisconsin, North Dakota, Providence and Dartmouth.
Four years later, Ramsey has three national championships, an undefeated season, four appearances in the national championship game, over 100 career points and a laundry list of individual accolades (including an All-America nod, and two WCHA Defensive Player of the Year Awards) to show for it. A senior captain this season, she ended her career last Sunday with a 4-1 win over Harvard in the national championship game. Minnesota also won national championships during Ramsey's freshman and sophomore seasons.
As impressive as the list of team and individual accomplishments is, there's more to the equation than what happened on the ice during Rachel's four years in a Gopher sweater. On top of being a key contributor in Minnesota's 147-10-7 record dating back to the beginning of the 2011-12 season, Rachel has contributed to hockey-related discussions on the sports talk radio dial since last spring, and has made a bit of a name for herself within hockey circles around the state. She is a weekly guest on Paul Allen's radio show on KFAN, which airs weekdays from 9-to-Noon. Ramsey (known as "Pronger with a Pony Tail" by KFAN followers) frequently appears during live broadcasts from the penalty box at Xcel Energy Center on days of Minnesota Wild games, and is often charged with providing analysis of hot hockey topics from the NHL and college hockey. She also fills in to do studio work for country station K102 FM, and is a regular with that station on the weekends.
A business marketing major with a double minor in mass communication and management, Ramsey somehow juggled her academic responsibilities in addition to the time committed to hockey and radio appearances without suffering any setbacks when it came to her grades. A threetime AII-WCHA Academic Team honoree with one Academic All-Big 10 nod, Rachel clearly placed a high priority on keeping herself busy in college. That has already paid off, as Ramsey isn't wasting any time launching her career after hockey. She will begin working at an ad agency after graduating this spring, and could possibly find a part-time radio gig in the future. If nothing else, the exposure Rachel gained at KFAN and K102 has left her with a nice backup plan.
Looking back on her time competing at Minnesota Selects, Ramsey recalls a time in her life when hockey was a bit less complicated. According to Rachel, the key to getting the most out of the Selects experience is very simple.
"I'd tell every kid playing to just have fun and enjoy it. As you play hockey, the older you get, the higher the stress level gets,” Ramsey said. "I tell college freshmen the same thing I tell 10-year-old girls. Enjoy the moment.”