Q&A with Erika Lawler, USA’s Mighty Mouse
By Heather McIntyre
Q: Small but strong and speedy, that is how you have been described. How do you see yourself as a player?
A: I always struggle to describe myself as a player in terms of my strengths, but I would say my speed and quickness are things that really help me on the ice. Obviously I’m always one of the smallest players on the ice so I need to use my speed and quickness to get around people, win 50/50 battles and get to loose pucks. I am more of a playmaker than a goal scorer. I have been criticized for not shooting enough and for always looking to first pass rather than shoot, but I’m working on that. I would say that I’m gritty in the corners and work hard to get my team-mates the puck in order to create scoring opportunities, but I’m surprised when people say I’m strong because all of my opponents, especially at the national team level, always seem stronger. I always have to use 100 per cent of my strength and effort when I’m playing because, if I didn’t, I would get knocked around a lot more.
Q: How have you changed your preparation for games since joining the national team?
A: Experience plays a huge role at the national team level. Mentally, it is a lot harder because you’re always playing with and against the best and tend to compare yourself to those around you, so it is important to become confident in who you are and learn your role so you can do whatever you can in order for the team to be successful. I can’t say I have changed the way I have prepared for games, but I have learned my role throughout the years and am much more comfortable playing my style of hockey and that is something only experience can teach you.
Q: What is the key to your training? Why are you so fast?
A: My speed is both genetic and something I have worked on. I have always seen it as a strength of mine and being five feet tall, it is essential for me to make the most of. Since my speed and quickness are what help me win battles and create scoring opportunities, I had to take advantage of that strength and develop it to the best of my ability. Working on skating fundamentals by doing things like power skating to really fine tune my stride and explosive stops and starts is probably what helps me most. Growing up, I spent the majority of my time focusing on edge work and stride techniques. Strength training off the ice also helps a lot. In the weight room it was essential for me to work on my explosiveness.
Q: Can you take me through a detailed day in the training of Erika Lawler?
A: On a typical day I wake up around 8:30 a.m. For breakfast, I usually make myself a smoothie with some yogurt, soy milk, a little whey protein powder, flaxseed, sometimes peanut butter and fruit. I head to the rink at around 9 a.m. and we have a dynamic warm up at 9:30 a.m. Practice typically starts at 10 a.m. and lasts 1 -2 hours. After practice we usually lift weights for about an hour. I personally don’t like to eat or drink while I work out but I do drink a protein shake in between because I would get fatigued if I didn’t. After lifting we all cool down, stretch and foam roll to help with recovery so we can wake up the next day feeling ready to go at it again.
I am always sore; when I’m not I must not be working hard enough. When we leave the rink I go home to prepare a big lunch of egg white omelets loaded with peppers, mushrooms, onions, cheese and Canadian bacon all the time, or I will have a turkey sandwich if I’m too tired to make something that takes longer to prepare.
I park it on the couch for a while after lunch because I’m always exhausted by the time 4 p.m. rolls around. My roommates and I all kick it in front of the TV. We cook dinner around 6 p.m. On Mondays, my roommates and I most always make Mexican… that is probably my favourite. We cook pretty much anything… steak, chicken etc. We try to keep it pretty healthy but I always have to satisfy my sweet tooth before bed. I try to be in bed by 11:30 p.m. and usually get to sleep by midnight to wake up the next morning and do it all over again.
Q: How much free time do you have since the training is so intense with the team?
A: We have free time from 3 p.m. until bed, but we are all usually too exhausted to do anything other than grocery shop (which is absolutely necessary at least twice a week because we all eat a ton of food).
Q: How has the training regimen changed for this is Olympic year?
A: It has changed because we are all always together as opposed to past years where we would get together a few times a year for only a week at a time to play a tournament or have a development camp. Olympic years are great because we get to know our teammates on a more personal level and get to practice with our team every day, which creates a chemistry that we can build off of to really fine tune different aspects of our team’s game.
Q: What do you enjoy doing off the ice?
A: I love to listen to music. Dancing is one of my favourite things in the world to do, so sometimes I just jam out in my room and dance away! I also enjoy watching movies, garage band and just hanging out with my teammates.
Q: What is your favourite band or music?
A: It’s really hard for me to pick a favourite band or genre of music because I like all music. If I HAD to choose, my favourite kind of music would be hip hop or pop. I love Timbaland beats, Lil’ Wayne, Beyonce, the Fray, Colbie Collait, Akon… pretty much everything.
Q: What is your favourite book and TV show?
A: Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. TV shows I like are So You Think You Can Dance and Grey’s Anatomy.
Q: Favourite sport other than hockey?
Q: Favourite nickname?
A: I don’t really have a favourite nickname. People call me Lawler, Laws, Lawls, Lolly, Loll Doll, Riiks, Bids, Biddie, Sal, E-trouble but I like it best when people call me by my first name, Erika.