Get to Know Mia
Mia was Born in 1972 in Washington D.C. and then transplanted to Michigan for a brief (about the length of an NHL season), but meaningful stay with a hockey-loving foster family. Since they were fosters and generous enough to take on kids waiting for a home, they will not be called-out for being Red Wings fans. Mia says however that she “will never allow anyone to see pictures of (her) as a tiny baby dressed in a Detroit get-up.” She was then adopted by a Swedish, second generation American and a German, first generation American. After leaving Michigan, she arrived in Harford County, MD, where she spent her childhood. Her favorite way of describing her youth and the area in which she spent the majority of her younger years is: “I was a Canadian net minder stuck in the wrong body way out and wild in the “Great Hockey Void”, where the ponds barely froze and the people thought Wayne Gretzky was a Polish pretzel vendor…”
Mia learned German, English and French as a child and travelled with her family to great destinations around the world. By the time she was 10, she had already been to 16 states, eight countries and three continents. Starting at around the age of four, Mia became interested in music, hockey, science fiction, competitive swimming, Jane Goodall and spent a good deal of time watching public television with her parents. Much to her mother’s dismay, it became clear very early on that Mia was not a typical child and that she had a more “masculine” personality than those of her girlfriends.
While Mia maintained the same address for almost 15 years, her education was oddly diverse and unlike that of her peers. She first attended Montessori School, where it became apparent that she was an extraordinarily precocious child who learned much faster than her cohorts. It was not long before Mia exhibited a desire to sing and learn as much as she could about NHL hockey.
From there, Mia attended a private day-school from grades 1-4, and then spent her 5th grade year in public school at the local elementary school. Mia spent all three of her middle school years in the only county middle school that happened to be equipped with a planetarium. Over those three years, Mia spent most of her time concentrating on Chorus, NHL hockey and finding ways to get time in the planetarium. It was at this point that Mia became interested in Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan and Gene Shoemaker. It also became evident around this point that Mia’s vocal range and abilities were worthy of note, as she left having been given the lead in all of the school’s public performances. It became increasingly difficult for Mia to find more challenging vocal and sports outlets. She had become well-known in recreation soccer circles as an aggressive, difficult to beat center full-back who played too hard for girl’s recreation soccer. While she earned the respect of many for her vocal and soccer playing abilities, she also became isolated by her need to compete at high levels. Many of the local soccer parents complained that Mia was “too tough” and should be not be allowed to participate on the rec soccer team. After an incident where an opposing forward, challenged by Mia, missed the ball on a hard kick and kicked Mia in the left shin instead. Mia did not wear shingaurds that season, stating that she could not find a guard that did not get too wet and slide, causing a distraction in her play. When the opposing player made contact with Mia’s bare shin, that player’s big toe broke. It was at that point both Mia and her coach, supportive and willing to stand behind her in the face of angry parents as he was, agreed that it was time for her to find another team on which to play.
Eventually, she found a spot as a starting goalie on a boy’s indoor soccer team in a different county. She had not played in the net prior to this, but the team would have to forfeit the season if it did not have a goalie, so she volunteered and from then on it was clear that she had found her “home”. She has played in front the net in more than one sport ever since. She also began singing in different places, with different people when the time and opportunity arose. At the age of 13, she stopped competitive swimming after 8 years on the same local swim team; the same year she won both the “Most Improved” award and the “Spirit” award. By age 14 she was playing indoor and outdoor soccer on boy’s teams in two different counties. She spent free moments in the prior season petitioning to play in the older boys’ league. She was granted permission after subjecting those charged with making the decision to what Mia likes to call the “they will relent eventually” method. She further explained that it’s all “because I am like the Terminator. I will keep coming after them and even if they tear me down until I am just a hunk of metal with one good glowing red dot for an eye – I was not programmed to ever stop.” She won the starting net minder position on an older boy’s team in a state outside of Maryland the day after her petition was approved.
Her high school years occurred at 3 different high schools. She attended a prestigious boarding school in Baltimore County, MD for her freshman and sophomore years, where she played both Junior Varsity and Varsity soccer in the fall and the winter. She received the “Varsity Soccer Coach’s Award” from her favorite coach “Coach Roach” in spring of 1988. Again, she volunteered to play the Winter Varsity season in the net, because that team could not play without a guaranteed goal keeper on the roster for the season. She also played goalie for the JV Co-ed water polo team as well. In 1986, she got a spot on a state men’s indoor soccer team and played four full seasons before leaving the team having two championships and accruing a state-wide goaltender record that has not yet been broken.
From there, Mia attended two public schools without playing soccer for either school, however she was called upon to play in the net for one school’s Women’s Varsity Field Hockey Team after they lost their goaltender to a tragic car accident that killed 7 people. She also accepted the back-up netmiding stead for the Men’s Junior Varsity Lacrosse team since the starter was stricken with Leukemia and had to miss the majority of the season while going through treatment. Her primary net minding focus was on her indoor soccer men’s league and any extra spare time was put into her love of music and ice hockey at that point.
Once Mia was able to drive, she began attending as many live, musical performances as she could. She also did everything possible to get to any ice hockey game within a 12 hour, round trip, driving distance. It was at this time in her life when a standard yearly cycle of the ice hockey season took precedence over all but her own athletic endeavors, then the summer months became dedicated to music and concert-going, especially at outdoor venues across America and Canada. To date, she has attended more than 1,050 live musical performances in her lifetime. In her early twenties, she set out to see live musical acts by getting floor access tickets to those shows so she could stand on the floors of every venue that was home to an NHL team. She felt is was the closest thing to standing on the ice (or where the ice would be) on which all the NHL greats have skated and played. As of this update she has completed that mission. Since there is a possibility of a team moving or playing in a newly built arena, she believes her mission “remains an open book”. She credits Barenaked Ladies (the band comprised of men that is) as being the musical act that helped her reach her goal very quickly. Of the cities and venues where she was able to stand at ice level while enjoying a Barenaked Ladies concert, she remembers Columbus, Ohio and Buffalo, New York as particularly memorable. In her mind, Columbus was special because it was the Blue Jackets inaugural year in the NHL. The Buffalo show was held on New Year’s Eve Y2K. Being with all the music lovers while standing where the Buffalo Sabres play to ring in the year 2000 was quite memorable for Mia. She particularly remembers feeling a great sense of joy and happiness, because band member Kevin Hearn was able to be a part of the festivities, despite still being in recovery from Leukemia. It was a tearful, heart-filling affair for Mia and one she will never forget.
Mia attended several colleges, but became unable to play soccer for more than two full seasons due to an injury to her knee, elbow, ribs and ankle, all of which occurred simultaneously when she had a dirt bike accident resulting from a bad landing on a jump. Prior to being injured she obtained a full scholarship to play soccer at a University of California school, but changes in the schools ratings altered the scholarship allowances for female athletes. Unable to obtain grants or scholarship money in sufficient time to maintain her stay in California, Mia came back to MD having never allowed a single goal during her one season out West. She later received an award for the most persistent courage in athletics that had not only Never been given to a female soccer player, but had also never been awarded to a net minder.
After obtaining three college degrees (psychology, animal behavior and general biology/physiology)a nd being away from competitive sports for a long enough period of time, Mia decided to work on becoming a stronger ice skater and began purchasing ice hockey goalie gear. After two years of practice and attending three net minder camps, she started playing goaltender at various pick-up games in MD and VA. She did fairly well, but learned the hard way that beginning an athletic pursuit at the age of 27 after having two children was difficult. She hung-up the expensive goalie gear by age 35 after breaking her tailbone during a game and still recovering from injuries to her right leg sustained as a passenger in an automobile accident earlier that year.
By age 34, Mia had earned several college degrees and began working toward finding work in the ice hockey industry. Also by then, she had lost her last living grandparent, suffered the tragic loss of her only uncle to suicide, one brother to a motorcycle accident, her niece on September 11, 2001 who was a passenger on United Flight 175, another brother to complications related to years of heavy alcohol and drug use that created problems during an emergency operation, her fiancé who did not survive an automobile accident caused by another hockey player who was driving too fast in the rain, and her father after years of illness and complications stemming from diabetes and heavy drinking. She also suffered the unexpected and devastating loss of her twin boys, Ryan and Thomas, who perished together in an automobile accident at the age of 6. She bears a “yin-yang” dolphin tattoo in the center of her chest in remembrance of her two boys who she admits “had no choice but to be put in the water and on skates before the age of 4.” She knows for sure she’d be “one very dedicated “hockey mom” if her boys (a.k.a. “R” and “T” or “Artie” as one elderly neighbor had thought she was always talking to the same child and hear “RT” stated together quickly often) proved to have an affinity for the sport, but knew at least one was not quite “skate-adept thus far. Although he was pretty good at taking a fall, so perhaps there might be a place for him on a 4th loine ‘diving” squad somewhere.”
Since then, she has only become more passionate and outspoken about her love of ice hockey, the NHL, and the Washington Capitals. She feels very strongly about building a hockey culture in areas in the United States similar to Harford County, MD where she spent her youth never having a single word spoken to her about ice skating, playing ball or street hockey, having no ice rink within any realistic driving distance and where parents refused to allow parking lots to be flooded and frozen so their children could experience what it feels like to put on the skates and glide on some form of ice. To date, some areas in Harford County require a permit for even street hockey activities and often give citations to any groups who attempt to play roller hockey in any public space.
Her work experience is just as varied and broad as her education. Mia began working at age 13 in order to feed her love of music and hockey. At the time, there was an AHL team in Baltimore, MD that played at the then, Baltimore Civic Center. She managed to convince a father of a friend from school to let her help him clean the arena after concerts and hockey games. She could then see the concerts and games for free and always went home with a prized souvenir left behind by a fan or that she managed to convince a player to give to her.
Mia has worked at Royal Farms Store, a video store, a Hardee’s, a Roy Rogers, one day at a McDonalds and one day at a Wendy’s. She has also worked at four different Denny’s across the state of Maryland, having been called upon to help open a new franchise Denny’s by training the wait staff. She was also the roving “what position do you want me play coach” sort of employee having been cross-trainee as a hostess, waitress, table busser, dish washer, line cook and “late, late shift” supervisor. She used these skills when called into action at any of three Denny’s as needed to fill gaps in coverage.
She has worked for Towson University (State of Maryland) in three different capacities. Her initial position was as a student employee at the University Store. At the time, she was a full-time student, but when a full-time opening became available in the textbook department, she began working for the State of Maryland full-time in order to take advantage of the MD State Employee tuition remission benefit. She was recruited by the Mathematics Department about a year later where she became the Department Manager. She graduated from Towson University after working full-time and attending classes full-time with both a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Behavior. She remained a full-time employee for another year and began a non-degree program of interdisciplinary study.
She left Towson to pursue other interests and spend time with her children. After working various odd jobs, taking care of her ailing parents and attending to personal matters, Mia then began working full-time again for a government non-profit organization that worked in conjunction with the EPA to create, track, develop and execute air quality management compliance and enforcement training to a 10 state (DC included) consortia of state, local and tribal agencies in the Mid-Atlantic area. From there, she moved onto a position as the Information and Technology Manager for Peter Fillat Architects in Baltimore, Maryland’s recently revitalized Inner-Harbor East.
As members of Mia’s family were lost and her health becoming more and more an issue, she worked as a photographer/videographer and audio/visual technician for a wide variety of productions and events. She used her self-taught skills in audio and video editing to secure work when her health and personal circumstances would give her time and opportunity. Between 2006 and 2008, Mia lost many financial assets, suffered from a number of symptoms attributed to no finite medical reasons and became the last person in her entire family “left standing to take care of business”, as she will say when asked. In early 2007, she spent most of her time and money assisting her elderly mother who at that point was a Breast Cancer survivor who had recently fallen and broken a hip, then shortly after suffered a stroke. Mia also spent the remainder of her available finances on medical efforts to determine why her health had “gone down the crapper faster than Chara can send a puck to net,” as she happily describes her state of being at that time.
Mia has also rescued, transported and rehabilitated many animals in her life, including a Moose known as Mariachi. Her capacity to give and help people animals is the epitome of her nature. She has also donated several of her own personal musical instruments to children who could not obtain those instruments through any other means. She is a fervent supporter of Fine Arts Education and is a living example of its importance.
By June of 2007, she had been told by two independent medical professionals that for no apparent reason at all, her body was shutting down, one organ at a time. The best prognosis at the time was that she would not reach her 37th birthday, which was a little less than two years away. Mia immediately made sure certain anonymous donations were made to organizations that mattered to her. Then she procured a season seat in the 4th row of the Verizon Center behind the home goal where Olie Kolzig would play twice each game. As it happened, the 2007-2008 season was the last of Kolzig’s goalie days with the Washington Capitals. It was also the most pivotal year in franchise history in terms of play, attendance and other important aspects. She spent 2007-2008 being nothing but an ice hockey fan, but suffered tremendously from an assortment of painful, inexplicable injuries that no medical professional could understand. She has explained some of her unknown issues, which can still happen on occasion to this very day, as such: “It’s as though I go to sleep and with no recollection, get up and play a hard game of ice hockey in the middle of the night. And not just any game, a rough, fighting sort of game. When I wake up in the morning, I have bruises, pain, soreness and other game like injuries.” And then in her inimitable “oh well, what can ya do” way, she then smiles and further states with a serious face but eyes sparkling with silliness, “What bunch of A-holes is letting someone who’s sleepwalking play ice hockey in the middle of the night? That s&*t just ain’t right! I mean at the very least those (bleep) suckers could suit me up with some padding for crying out loud. That would be the right thing to do!” Mia cannot explain these types of issues, so she believes in dealing with them as they come and spending time wondering “WHY” they happen only reduces the time and energy she can put into her two life loves, ice hockey and music. She believes I have portrayed her as sounding as though she’s sailor headed into port on the “Good Ship Gordie M-F’ing Howe.” She’s earned it and it’s one of her most endearing qualities as far as I’m concerned. If you can’t handle “hockey mouth”, you don’t feel the love of hockey the way Mia does. She does curtail the “mouth that would make a sailor blush”, as she claims her father once described her colorful talk when kids are abound and the substitutions for cursing are even more colorful. Her agile mind and ultra-fast creative mind is an experience I wish could be shared easily.
Mia has owned a variety of musical instruments, but feels most strongly about guitars and has a natural born knack for fixing them. She is a self-taught musician and audio technician with a smattering of voice and classical training. She feels most drawn to string instruments.
After losing everything, Mia avoided homelessness by living in a barn for more than a year and a half. She maintained a 3 hour daily commute after obtaining a government contracting job with a federal law enforcement operational unit of the Department of Homeland Security. She also spent two seasons in consult to an ECHL team, has worked with two NHL net minders, two ECHL net minders and has been approached by other hockey players and organizations to give motivational speeches or provide insight into the mental resilience required to remain or become a mentally prepared and sturdy professional hockey player.
Mia lives her life from the core heart of love that many do not understand and often times feel the need to assert oppressive techniques as a means to stop what they do not understand. She has an impressive IQ, but the unique ability to combine the “book smarts” with the “street smarts” so that extrapolating patterns relating to human behavioral dynamics and group movement, especially involving multiple cultures, gives her a native and clear, proven ability to predict events yet to happen. She has honed this skill for 36 years to fit the NHL. It is not that she can “see” the future; it is just that there is a reason why Wayne Gretzky always seemed to “know” where the puck is going to be. Mia explains herself this way, “natural geometric patterns, human movement patterns, acoustical patterns and the physical patterns in the NHL are all contained on a similar sheet of ice with a similar set of nets, surrounded by boards. The patterns reveal themselves if you just let go and allow them to flow through, because those patterns are finite. I don’t have to read an NHL player’s mind to understand why his natural behaviors can block the reception of the natural patterned cues evident in any given NHL game. I simply have to perceive empathetically, and then apply that to the nature of the game. If I can understand an organizational philosophy and get enough non-verbal, verbal and micro-behavioral cues from the players on a single team, I can usually gain great insight into the natural team dynamic. All players are single units, but a team must always function as though those units “KNOW” they will win together. It is possible.”
I’ve had a chance to visit with Mia today and something she said to me when I asked her why she chose the Tampa Bay Lightning after so many years as a dedicated Caps fan (see her blog for more on this) defines why I wish every person on Earth could cross paths with her. With genuine watery eyes and a brilliant smile beaming with an overflow of wonderful happiness, she answered, “I walked into the Verizon Center for Game 2, Round 2 of the ’10-’11 playoffs still deciding if my support would go to the New Jersey Devils or the Toronto Maple Leafs. I walked out of the Verizon Center that night 100% securely aware that the Bolts would sweep the Caps and that the love in my hockey heart has been with Vinny (Lecavalier) and Marty (St.Louis) since they’ve been together. There’s a reason they’ve been with the Lightning this long and there’s a reason my hockey-loving heart finally found it’s way home that night too. There was no choice on my part. There was no thought at all. There was only pure hockey love. I was wearing red, but every particle in me was peacefully filling with blue. I could feel the difference the moment the Bolts hit the ice for pre-game warm-ups. The Hockey Gods gave me peace. There was no doubt. Win or lose, the Bolts are stuck with me until one of the two of us are simply no more. I will die a happy hockey fan and that is a gift I shall never take for granted. All things wrong became right that night. A harmonious flow returned where it had been in discord, missing pieces. There was no choice. There was only exactly right.”
She’s not to be taken for granted and she knows God made an awesome universe. Her kind of love is as real as his. (except she can be seen and touched). I think she needs a hug.
(This biography was written by Sara Daniels. Reach me at email@example.com)