PHOTO CRED: Troy Parla
“Every time I drive to the rink, I have a smile on my face,” said Micaela Long, second-year forward with the Connecticut Whale. “Every morning I drive to work, I have a smile on my face,” said Micaela Long, fifth-year teacher at the American School for the Deaf. “How many people can say they’re living two dreams?”
This is Long’s remarkable life. Yes, it can be filled with, um, long and exhausting days, but they are rewarding. She gets back even more than she gives.
Long teaches physical education at the American School for the Deaf, the oldest school for deaf people in the United States and the birthplace of American Sign Language. Between 8:30 – 3:30, she works with more than 60 students ages 3–19 (many with special needs beyond their hearing impairment). When the final class is dismissed and she says goodbye to her students, she heads back to the school gym to begin her own 90-minute workout regimen.
“With the full-time job, I’m not on the ice or working out with my teammates as much as I’d like, and really, as much as I need,” said Long, 29, who played four years at the University of New Hampshire and was 13-38-51 in 33 games in her senior year. “I was more of an offensive player in college, but with these women in the NWHL getting so quick and so strong and me being 5-4, my focus has to be on forechecking, being relentless, building my speed and endurance. I have to try to make up for the time away from the rink with my personal workouts.”
And on Tuesdays and Thursdays, her day is extended by the 30-minute drive from West Hartford to Northford for the Whale’s 8:30 – 10:00 pm practices. Then there’s one, sometimes two NWHL games on the weekends.
Thanks to the support of her teammates at school and on the Whale, Long loves every grueling, inspirational, challenging, heartbreaking moment. When Long and the Whale have their home opener on Saturday, more than 25 of her colleagues from ASD will be in the stands to support her. Several of her students went to Whale games last season – before one, a teacher and student signed the National Anthem – and will be back this season.
(Connecticut Whale teammates from left to right: Sam Faber, Jordan Brickner, Micaela Long)
"We’re proud of Micaela’s hard work as both a teacher and athlete,” said Jeff Bravin, executive director of the American School for the Deaf. “In every way, she is a role model for many of our students here."
Long graduated UNH in 2010 with a degree in Psychology, minoring in Deaf Studies. She earned her Masters from Boston University in Education of the Deaf. After two solid seasons with the Boston Blades of the CWHL, she was out of professional hockey for three years before the NWHL started in 2015. You would think three full years out of the game – aside from some beer league play, plus a whole lot of CrossFit and long distance running – would generate too much rust to be able to make it back to the pros.
(Micaela's coworkers and "super-fans" from the American School for the Deaf)
But this is Micaela Long.
“It took a while to get my feet going, but I was determined,” Long said. “I love hockey. I love this league and the Whale. And I’m fortunate to have this career with these amazing children at a place like ASD, where the support for everything I do has been phenomenal.”
Asked how many more years she could envision maintaining this personal pace, Long let out a long sigh before thoughtfully responding.
“If my body can sustain another season after this one, I would love to play,” said Long. “I know there will be a time when it will be impossible to play at this level any longer, but as long as I can give my best to my beautiful students and my teammates and coaches at the Whale…
“Let’s put it this way: I’ll do my best with the time that I have. I leave my heart on the ice every day.”
And everywhere she goes.