Name: Taylor Heise
School: Red Wing (Minn.)
Sport: Girls ice hockey
Taylor Heise starts reeling off her summer schedule and one thing is clear: She loves hockey.
A two-time American Family Insurance ALL-USA selection for Red Wing (Minn.), she plays or practices for the Minnesota Machine in two-hour blocks on Fridays and Sundays.
CLASS OF ’18: No. 18 Crossroads School forward Shareef O’Neal
She works with former Minnesota star Winny Brown and Brown’s coaching staff at OS Hockey on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
She works with her personal trainer on Mondays, Tuesday and Thursdays.
She played for four weekends in June and July at the Minnesota Prospects Camps, which brings together the top players in the state.
She went to Maine for the USA Hockey Select 66 development camp.
She works out at home on stick handling and shooting and has sessions scheduled with the shooting coach she has worked with since seventh grade.
She helps at youth hockey camps and clinics in Red Wing to “give back to the community that has helped me so much,” she says.
“I did one other thing – skating with Diane and Andy Ness, the Minnesota Wild skating coaches,” she said. “We worked two or three times a week for four weeks. It’s not a lot of puck stuff. It’s more power turns and crossovers and it helps you get your edges down. I’ve been doing that for 2 ½ years.”
With Heise and her two younger brothers, life is busy and filled with trips and events and games for her family, but she notes, “We’re a very busy family, but I try to do a lot of different fun things. We try to have family dinners.” She also lauds her grandfather, a retired bus driver who lives a mile away and spends time helping shuttle the Heise kids, especially before Taylor could drive.
Here is what else we know about Taylor Heise and hockey: She’s really good at it.
Heise was second in Minnesota with 54 goals. She also added 26 assists for Red Wing (18-6-4), which reached the Section 1A championship game. A member of the United States’ gold-medal winning team at the U18 World Championships in January, Heise concluded her junior year with 142 goals and 128 assists in her high school career.
A University of Minnesota commit, Heise said played virtually every sport as a youngster, including an extended stint as a basketball player. She said things changed when started playing 12U for Red Wing and connected with coach Scott Haley’s daughter, Paige. Paige was a senior at the time, making the all-state team for the fourth time and being named a finalist for Miss Hockey in the state before a career at Minnesota.
“Paige Haley really helping me in the program,” Heise said. “When I started to grow and really understand the game that’s when my love just hit it. I knew as a kid that I wanted to play it, but I didn’t know how far it would go. As a kid, I wasn’t a standout when I started at 7. I was playing twice a week and it was really fun for me.
“Once I got playing in 12U for Red Wing, I thought, I think I can do this. If I give it everything I’ve got, I know I can go places and that’s what I wanted to do.”
One place where hockey has not taken Heise – by choice – is prep school. Red Wing has a population of less than 17,000 people. Heise lives in Lake City, a town of about 5,000, and drives 25-30 minutes to school. Lake City does not have a hockey team so Heise used open enrollment to go to Red Wing starting in junior high.
“At one point, I was thinking about prep school,” she said. “Prep school wouldn’t have satisfied with what I wanted to get out of life and out of high school. Being able to be around my friends every day and play the game that I love is so awesome. I get out and meet so many more people in the city and playing in Red Wing that I would not have found anywhere else.”
Heise has gotten exposure to the nation’s top players in her time with USA Hockey camps, time that has proved both an invaluable motivation to her as a player but also as a team leader when she returns to Red Wing. She talks and sounds like a coach, having internalized much of what she’s heard in her vast number of hockey experience.
“Sometimes when I’m back home, people don’t relate to me because they don’t do the things I do. I’m different to them, but that doesn’t bother me,” she said. “These are my friends and they do what they do. I love playing with my Red Wing friends because we’ve been together for a really long time.
“But I can relate so much at USA Hockey to these people, getting a whole new light and new perspective. Listening to Olympians like Meghan Duggan and Courtney Kennedy, they broadened it for me. They were saying, ‘This thing that you have not a lot of people would be able to do. You’re in a small town with a team that’s not phenomenal. You have a chance to lead people and really influence them. Let them know how much you care and how much you want them there.’ I’m there to make people better, but I’m not there to always push, push, push until they can’t do it anymore. I’m there to be the leader and support them no matter what.”
She is hoping that approach will lead Red Wing to states. The first goal is to get to the section final and then see what happens. Red Wing has a group of eight experienced seniors, the largest such contingent that the program has had. Heise reflects on her high school career and recalls thinking it would go slowly, given how young she was when she began. “Yeah, it hasn’t,” she says laughing.
“It’s really important for senior year that I make all my friends comfortable who have been there,” she said. “We’re a group of eight for senior year that’s stuck together.
“This is our year, I believe it.”