Defender Sara Ito-Bagshaw ’26 is constantly looking to improve. It is what she loves most about hockey.
“You can always get better.… It’s so much fun,” she said.
Ito-Bagshaw started playing hockey at the age of seven after trying out gymnastics and swimming with her older sister. She played hockey throughout middle and high school in California and felt most encouraged by her sixth-grade coach.
“He really believed in me and believed that I could be a good player [and] essentially taught me what hard work was—there was never a day that was easy. That’s when I grew the most as a player, mentally and physically,” she said.
Ito-Bagshaw felt that the recruitment process for collegiate hockey made playing in high school more stressful, yet she still maintains that upward drive. She cites her first collegiate goal as a highlight of the past season.
This season, Ito-Bagshaw wants to play more confidently. After being named NESCAC Women’s Ice Hockey Player of the Week in December, she hopes to celebrate her personal milestones while continuing to improve.
“It has shown in a couple games, but hasn’t really been that consistent—that’s still something that I want to work on,” she said. “[The award] was another motivation to keep working harder.”
For the last third of the season, Ito-Bagshaw is ready to pick up the pace as the team prepares to face Amherst this weekend.
“Since we already played [Amherst] once … and we lost to them, we know what kind of team they are and we know what to expect.… We know they’re going to be a faster team,” she said.
The team is going in this weekend with a winning mindset and hopes to gain confidence to compete against better teams.
“We beat Colby, which is huge. I think that has been our first solid confirmation that we as a group want to do better,” she said.
Ito-Bagshaw pointed to some big changes within the team since last season.
“We started rating our practices, just to reflect … and see where we were at the moment, and then thinking about what we can do better the next practice,” she said. “We’ve been intensifying practices and then trying to make them more effective as a whole group.”
Throughout the rest of the season, Ito-Bagshaw is excited to share in the team’s success.
“We’ve definitely had highs and lows as a team.… It’s something special to say that as a team,” she said. “It’s perfect in a way where everyone is so uniquely themselves that it’s never boring to be on a team like this.”