In late March, beloved Principal Vicki Puckett announced that she would be joining the exciting world of semi-professional hockey following her resignation.
After years of working in the Mercer Island School District, she decided that she could no longer ignore her passion for the sport.
“Working with kids is alright, but the feeling of my skates on the ice– I mean no child could compare to that,” Puckett said.
Puckett will be joining the esteemed Co-ed Semi-pro Ex-educator Hockey League this coming fall.
“It’s very elite. I mean sure, we don’t keep score and there aren’t technically tryouts, but it’s essentially an Olympic-level sport,” Puckett added.
To commence her new life on the ice, Puckett plans to participate in extensive training and skating lessons.
“You may be asking how I decided to pursue hockey as somebody who has never played it before, and it’s truly a fascinating story,” she said.
Last year, Puckett took her niece to see Frozen: on Ice and found the experience to be life-changing.
“There was this heavy, older man who was playing the reindeer and he just looked so graceful out there, spinning around to ‘Let It Go,’” Puckett said. “In that moment, I wanted to be exactly like him– but minus the heavy, old, and being a man part.”
The next day, Puckett went out and purchased her own pair of skates.
“It was hard to get the hang of it at first, since ice tends to be a bit slippery,” she said. “I tried doing some spins but quickly realized that was just not going to happen. So rather than performance skating, I decided to switch my focus to ice hockey.”
In order to compete in the big leagues, Puckett knew that she would need assistance from one of the best. She decided to hire Karbainov Vladislavovich– famed ice skating coach, holding three Russian Olympic gold medals to his name.
“I’ve never had a student like Vicki before,” Vladislavovich said. “Usually, my students come to me having years of training and typically with a few National Championship victories under their belt. When Vicki called me, I was initially very hesitant to lend my hand, as she was someone with basically no experience. But the passion and determination in her voice was so moving that I immediately knew she was something special.”
It was this raw passion and determination that allowed Puckett to start truly working toward her dream.
The process was difficult at first, as she found herself needing to catch up on years of technique and skill that she had missed out on.
“Luckily, I had the best coach in the business, and Karbainov was supporting me every step of the way,” Puckett said.
“To be honest, there were a lot of times when I wanted to give up on her” Vladislavovich said. “In Russian, we have this word shaskiva, which essentially means ‘disabled infant cow’. If a cow is born injured, it either dies within a few days or lives for many more years. Vicki is like my shaskiva.”
Despite the rocky start that she had, Puckett remained determined to beat the odds. “I have been practicing every day and I’m not going to stop,” she said.
However, once her practice schedule started intensifying, Puckett began struggling to balance hockey with her duties as principal.
“I knew that something in my life had to go, and the ice was just calling my name.”
It was at this point that Puckett decided she would have to resign from her position at MIHS.
“Yes, I am going to miss it,” she said. “ But there are some chances in life that you just have to take. I may not be very experienced or naturally athletic, but I feel that I have found my true purpose with ice hockey.”
Puckett is set to compete in the Co-ed Semi-pro Ex-educator National Cup in December and hopes that many of her former students will come out to cheer her on with the undying Islander spirit.