Success Story: Kayla Nielsen
One of the best success stories to come from Kandu Fitness is the career of hockey player Kayla Nielsen. Long before Kandu was around, she started playing roller hockey at age 5, and transitioned to ice hockey by age 8. By age 11 she turned to Coach Dave along with her older brother Bryce to help them get to the next level in hockey.
Year after year they both came to the gym two to three days a week, and followed a strict dryland program at home (extra sprints, slideboard training, gym based workouts, etc.). During this period Kayla has excelled. She’s been part of a great Lady Ducks program in which her team has made it to the National Championships for her age group for 7 straight seasons (this is tough to accomplish). While competing against east coast teams with much more experience and access to hockey facilities these Lady Ducks teams always finished in the top five teams in the nation, and in 2008 placed third.
Throughout this period, Kayla was a dominate force on the team often playing the hard penalty kill and power play minutes, while counted on to play on the first line (for at least 4 of her years with that team). Scouts soon started to notice her and by 15 she was already getting invites to the National Team Development Camps for the U16 and then U19 teams. College coaches also started to notice her. By 16 Kayla had letters of interest from Brown University and the University of Maine. At 17, she had letters and was being called by Brown University, University of Maine, Syracuse, Dartmouth, Mercyherst, Princeton, and St. Lawrence University. After going over all the details Kayla eventually signed on for a 4-year athletic scholarship with St. Lawrence University in upstate New York.
The take home message to anyone reading this is that if you work hard enough and put yourself into your craft you can achieve a very high level of success. When Kayla started training she was a very weak 11 year old girl. Right now she is the strongest female athlete at Kandu Fitness, and pound for pound our best athlete overall (including some really good runners and of course, World Champion in Jiu Jitsu Marco Alvarado).
To quote Kayla “I’m willing to work harder than anyone to get where I need to be”. As her dryland coach for the past 7+ years I can attest to her grit and determination. I think what people accomplish in the gym translates to other things in their lives and provides the confidence needed to tackle challenges head on.
When asked what she likes about training at Kandu her comments were “Kandu is a great place for both athletes and regular people to train. I like the environment of working out with a group of people; it makes me want to work harder. With all the equipment you have there and the amazing coaching it’s made me the player I am today and a huge reason why I’m playing NCAA Division 1 Hockey.