April 29, 2013

Tara Tomimoto Elected Captain for 2013-14

Leads Bulldogs into 37th Varsity Season

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Junior defenseman Tara Tomimoto (Calgary, Alta.) has been elected captain of the Yale women's ice hockey team for the 2013-14 season. Tomimoto was selected by a team vote last month, and was introduced formally at the team's post-season banquet Apr. 17 at The Course at Yale.

Tomimoto leads Yale into its 37th varsity season. Part of the team's top defensive pair, she played in all 29 games this year after missing the 2011-12 season due to injury.

"We are excited for Tara to continue a legacy of great captains at Yale," said Yale head coach Joakim Flygh, who is entering his fourth season with the Bulldogs. "Tara is extremely motivated as a student-athlete and always leads by example with her work ethic. We look forward to Tara leading us in the 2013-14 season and helping us push forward."

Tomimoto's return played a major role in jump-starting the Yale offense. She led the team in assists with 12 and was second in points with 14. That helped the Bulldogs increase their goal total by more than 30 percent over the previous season, when Tomimoto was sidelined. The Bulldogs also cut their goals allowed by more than 40 percent compared to last year.

"It is a great honor to be voted captain by my teammates, whom I respect and admire greatly," said Tomimoto. "The Yale Women's Hockey team has meant a great deal to me while at Yale and I am thrilled to help lead the team into a very competitive season especially at this crucial time in the program's history. We made great strides this year towards establishing a winning culture within the team and there is no doubt in my mind that this culture of success and winning will reach a higher level next year and ultimately become the cornerstone for Yale Women's Hockey in the future.  With the program's returning players and the new recruits, our team is poised to challenge for an ECAC Hockey title."  

Tomimoto has totaled 29 career points -- tops among returning players for 2013-14 -- on five goals and 24 assists. A gifted skater and a key part of Yale's special teams units, she incurred just three penalties this past year.

Tomimoto is part of a junior class that also includes forward Paige Decker (New Preston, Conn.), forward Ashley Dunbar (Hillsborough, N.J.), defenseman Aurora Kennedy (Mississauga, Ont.) and forward Patricia McGauley (Wilcox, Sask.).

"We have a very committed and dedicated group of players returning for next year and we have been working diligently in the weight room as well as doing extra conditioning to help us reach our goals for next season," said Tomimoto. "I am so proud of the work ethic we have shown thus far and I am certain that we will be a very competitive and successful team next year.  The coaches have done a fantastic job of recruiting and building the program, and I am excited to help integrate the new recruits into the solid core group we have returning."  

In addition to being one of Yale's top players, Tomimoto has also excelled academically. Her 3.78 grade-point average helped her earn the team's Brodhead Award this past season, given to the player "who has contributed significantly to the success of the team while excelling academically."  An economics major, she will earn her third ECAC Hockey All-Academic Team selection this year. She will spend this summer back home in Calgary pursuing an internship while also starting work on her senior thesis about oil sands. She also has been invited to attend former U.S. Olympian Jenny Potter's elite training camp in Minnesota.

Tomimoto is particularly interested in energy policy issues, and is a member of the Yale Undergraduate Energy Club.  She was recently elected to that organization's board to serve as activities director next year, organizing speakers related to the energy sector.  Her involvement in this club helped her choose her senior thesis topic.   

In addition to her academic work, Tomimoto has also been involved in multiple community service efforts. She recently received the Amy Rossborough Fellowship through the Yale Women's Center for her service project to help introduce New Haven girls to sport. She will direct a weekly sports clinic for New Haven girls next year.  

Tomimoto and her teammates also work directly with a pediatric patient from Yale-New Haven Hospital named Giana, whom the team adopted three years ago as part of the "Yale Bulldog PAWS (Pediatric Alliance With Student-athletes" program started by senior Alyssa Zupon (Basking Ridge, N.J.), Yale's 2012-13 captain.

Tomimoto has also been involved in two annual community service events in memory of Yale women's ice hockey player Mandi Schwartz '10 (1988-2011), who passed away in April of 2011 after battling cancer for more than two years. The Bulldogs play a "White Out for Mandi" fundraiser game at Ingalls Rink each fall to raise money for the Mandi Schwartz Foundation, the charity started by 2011-12 team captain Aleca Hughes '12. And every spring, Yale hosts the Mandi Schwartz Marrow Donor Registration Drive at Yale. Those drives have added nearly 4,000 potential marrow donors to the Be The Match registry, and located at least 17 donor matches for patients with life-threatening illnesses who are in need of transplants.

In addition to the drive at Yale, Tomimoto also organized a marrow donor registration drive in Calgary in June of 2011. That year her best friend from high school, Evann Parker, passed away due to leukemia within four months of Mandi's death.

Tomimoto captained the Calgary Bruins prior to coming to Yale, earning recognition as the top defenseman in the AMMFHL. She also was invited to Team Canada's Under-18 Strength and Conditioning Camp and U-18 Evaluation Camp in 2008. She was selected to Team Alberta in 2008 and competed in the 2008 U-18 National Championship.

Tomimoto is the second Alberta native to captain the Yale women's ice hockey team, joining Erin Duggan '05 of Beaumont, who captained the team in 2004-05. A graduate of West Island College, Tomimoto is in Calhoun College at Yale. At West Island College Tomimoto was valedictorian of her senior class and received the Governor General's Award, given to the student at every high school with the highest academic average.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity