As she nears the end of a sweet and subtle acoustic music set at the Royal Oak’s Goldfish Tea House, few listening would expect Alex Strohm to be able to check a boy twice her size into the boards and convert break away into unassisted goal.
Strohm, a junior, plays for an AAA Compuware hockey team in the HPHL, High Performance Hockey League. There are only three AAA teams in the state of Michigan and five in their league around the country.
“We play against teams all over the country and Canada as well,” Strohm said. “We have a tournament in New York this fall.”
Strohm plays both defense and forward against teams such as Honey Baked and Little Casears.
She has practice four times a week, with an hour of on ice, plus games and tournaments on the weekends. Not to mention the rink is in Plymouth, which adds on another 45 minutes to an hour to her night.
“On a night that I have hockey, I leave an hour and 45 minutes before practice starts,” Strohm said.“After off ice workouts are the hour and a half practices. It usually takes me 10-20 minutes to get my equipment off and then a 45 minute drive home.”
At tournaments they can play up to six games, two on Friday, two on Saturday, and two on Sunday if their team makes it to the final rounds.
She showed a great deal of interest at a young age and started to play at a Royal Oak co-ed house league, but as she got older she began to try out for girls’ A and AA travel teams.
Strohm began her hockey career in 7th grade for the Troy Jaguars, being the youngest on the team. The next year she moved up to a U16 team in Rochester, which was an AA rank.
Hockey ranks range from house to travel, and within travel the levels are A, AA, AAA. Boy’s teams go further, through juniors and semi-pro teams, but girl’s stop at AAA as the highest rank.
During Strohm’s freshman year she played with the Birmingham Rangers, where she caught the eye of her coach, who also coached the Cranbrook hockey team.
“He tried to persuade a friend and I to apply to Cranbrook and play high school hockey, but we declined,” Strohm said.
Strohm’s competitive ambition and passion for the sport drove her to wanting more of a challenge, to try out for the Icebreakers, which played in the amateur Little Caesar’s hockey league.
“This was one of those teams that would beat everyone by 12 goals,” Strohm said. “One of the teams that as an opponent I always had a little bit more fun scoring on because they weren’t expecting it.”
Although the Icebreakers were only an AA team, Strohm still traveled and competed in tournaments, which was much more of a time commitment than her previous season.
“It was more time than I had ever put into hockey and our team had a lot of internal issues,” Strohm said. Girls can be catty you know.”
Since Strohm was putting such a large commitment into her game, she decided to give AAA a shot, even though it would be much more time consuming.
“Having not enjoyed last season, I was set on playing with the boys again because it was more fun, laid back, and not nearly as intense,” Strohm said.
AAA tryouts take place in the spring with a few adjustments in the fall, but Strohm missed the tryouts.
“We contacted the Compuware coach, one of the three teams, saying I had interest in playing for him,” Strohm said. “He had me skate with his team a few times and then decided to sign me.”
In total, hockey can take four to five hours out of her nights, which meant she had to choose between different activities to give hockey a chance.
“It’s hard to balance hockey with school, friends, music, ACTs, and other sports,” Strohm said. “I had to quit guitar lessons and give up other clubs and interests to play.”
As for college, Strohm is unsure about what she wants.
“My coach is determined to help those of us wanting to find a team that suites us both academically and athletically,” Strohm said. “I’ve been playing my whole life, so it’s a hard decision to make.
Even though playing AAA has been a tough commitment, Strohm believes she made the right decisions.
“It was worth it to see how far I could go in a sport I really love,” Strohm said.