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Shred with the Preds

Photo: Brooke Andersen (left) and Alicia Hsu (centered) standing on center ice at Bridgestone Arena

While the Nashville Predators are dominating its NHL division this year, a couple of Belmont students have been shredding the ice themselves.

Senior Alicia Hsu and freshman Brooke Andersen took positions this season as ice girls for the city’s hockey team, dancing, energizing the crowd and maintaining the rink during the games.

With 13 and 11 years of competitive ice skating under their respective belts, both girls fit the criteria for the 24-girl team with their speed, poise and ability to connect with the audience.

Hsu’s figure skating coach, a former ice girl and the team’s coach, encouraged her to try out for the position while Andersen found out about the opportunity through friends who have worked with the Predators before.

“We went into the Bridgestone and had an interview with the people in charge of the Preds girls, and then we had to skate for them,” Andersen said. “Basically just show that we could look nice on the ice, do tricks and engage the audience as well.”

During games, nine of the girls dance through the bleachers to entertain the crowd. Others skate and do tricks to live music while the ice is being resurfaced during intermissions.

But their duties aren’t all just fun and games.

“The ice girl’s skaters go out on the ice with the ice crew three times every period during TV timeouts with our buckets, shovels and snowplows to get rid of the snow buildup that’s on the ice. It’s really intense because the referees are timing us, and if we are too slow, we could cost penalties for the team,” Hsu said.

The ice girls are also in charge of cleaning up after one of Predators fans’ most cherished traditions: throwing catfish onto the ice.

“I haven’t gotten to do it yet. None have been thrown this season so far. But I’m sure there will be, especially if we make playoffs. I honestly think it’s a little gross, but I’ve touched fish before, so I would still pick it up! It’s such a strange concept though,” Hsu said.

Despite the icy conditions and— according to Andersen— uniforms that aren’t designed to keep the skaters warm, the girls agree the high energy and positive attitude that has come with the Predators’ No. 1 division ranking has made the job exciting.

“So glad to be apart of this current season because the Preds are doing so so well. Bridgestone is almost always jammed-packed and the fans are just full of energy this season, which makes skating for them extra fun,” Hsu said.

Off the ice, the girls attend promotional opportunities for the Nashville Predators, shaking hands, taking pictures and getting to know fans at sponsorship events and community celebrations such as the Downtown Nashville Christmas Parade.

Andersen says that she intends to continue on as an ice girl throughout her time in college and perhaps even after. While Hsu will be starting medical school and will not be living in Nashville next year, she hopes to be able to pick up the job when she is home on breaks.

“It’s a lot of fun and the perfect side job for a college student,” Hsu said.

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