May 12 – Happy Birthday to a Rochester Olympian

Posted by Sal Maiorana • May 12, 2013    Democrat and Chronicle

When Lyndsay Wall was a little girl growing up in Churchville, dolls weren’t her thing: Hockey was, and she dreamed of playing in the NHL, either with or against her idol, Mario Lemieux. She never made it to the NHL, but she did play in the 2002 and 2006 Olympics.

Lyndsay Wall as an 8-year-old in her youth hockey days in Rochester.

“You have to remember that when I first started out, you didn’t have women’s hockey in the Olympics, so that wasn’t something I could dream about as a 5-year-old,” said Wall, who was born on this date, May 12, back in 1985.

Wall’s father, Kraig, couldn’t believe that his wife, Sandra, signed Lyndsay up to play hockey. “I was like, `Sandra, what are you doing?,’” said Kraig Wall, who played the game and was once a member of the Rochester Junior Americans. “I’m thinking a girl shouldn’t be playing hockey. It’s too crazy. But Lyndsay took to it immediately.”

Lyndsay grew up playing with boys and that included a couple years for Churchville High School in the Monroe County Hockey League. She also captained the Rochester Americans Peewee Major AAA boys’ team in 1998-99, and with her own gender one of her top achievements was leading the Syracuse Stars to the 2001 USA Hockey girls’ 19-and-under national championship.

"I heard the slurs,” Wall once said of her time playing with boys. “I had guys take runs at me and try to check me extra hard or trip me. But I’ve been fortunate because there have only been isolated incidents. And my teammates have been real good to me. They don’t put up with the cheap shots and the other stuff.”

These experiences caught the attention of USA Hockey, and she was asked to join the national team in the fall of 2001 for its worldwide training tour leading up to the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City. She was the youngest girl on the team, but Wall made the 20-woman squad along with Greece’s Kim Insalaco, and the two local players won silver as the U.S. lost the championship game to Canada.

Both Wall and Insalaco also made the 2006 Olympic team that won a bronze in Italy.

Wall went on to play college hockey at the University of Minnesota, and today is living in Visalia, Calif. and works for the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department.