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#NWHLxWISS: Riveters' Goalie and Archiectural Designer Kimberly Sass

By Amanda Ghysel, 10/18/18, 8:15PM EDT

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#NWHLxWISS is a series in partnership with accounting firm WISS that highlights the careers, interests and stories of women in the NWHL as well as women working at WISS.

Kimberly Sass, a goaltender for the defending Isobel Cup champion Metropolitan Riveters, is in her second season with the team and third in the NWHL after spending a season with the Buffalo Beauts. A native of East Amherst, New York, Sass graduated from Colgate University and is an architectural designer for Jack L. Gordon Architects in Manhattan. We sat down with Sass to learn more about her career and her passions.  

What did you study in school?
I majored in studio art and geography at Colgate. After taking a couple art classes, I decided to major in it. I had taken so many geography-based required courses, and I was really drawn to some of them like The American City. At that point, I had so many, I figured I might as well major in it. My one architecture program kind of tied everything together with geography and being able to recognize data and why people choose specific locations to inhabit.

When you were deciding where to go to school, playing in college was the pinnacle of women’s hockey. How did you consider both hockey and your education when making decisions about your future?
I knew I was interested in art and some of the more creative things, but I was also interested in science and math, so I was looking for something that could balance all of that. As a goalie, the whole process [of choosing a school] was more complex. My dad and I made a spreadsheet of what year goalies were graduating from different schools and which of those schools also had a major I was interested in. And you also have to look at financial aid packages and if you like the campus and get along with the team after your visit. If you weren’t on the national team or going to play overseas, [college hockey] was pretty much it, so you had to think about being multifaceted.

What is your job title and what are your job responsibilities?
I’m an architectural designer at Jack L. Gordon Architects in Manhattan. My job responsibilities are to be involved in the design of a ground-up building or renovation projects. Many of our company’s projects are either in health care or education or sports facilities, with some residential.

When we get awarded a project, we meet with the client and our design team, which consists of our two principals and a project manager and an architectural designer or two. We brainstorm and start the conceptual and design development. I’m basically the person who takes those ideas, sketches, drawings and organizes the information from paper into the computer. I also meet with the engineers – mechanical, electrical, plumbing, civil – going back and forth through the design process, pushing the set along. Then we check back in with the whole design team and check in with the contractors to make sure they’re building the building the way we’ve drawn it.

How did you get into the architectural field?
Combining my interests in art and geography and space. I was always painting in college. My thesis was a 2D painting on a 3D canvas. I was always playing with dimensions. I thought architecture was the way to go in terms of having that stability in terms of a career while also getting that creativity piece. After I graduated, I decided not to play in Europe. I went straight back home to Buffalo and started my journey to get my master’s in architecture, which was a three-and-a-half-year program. I started that at University at Buffalo, and that was a pretty grueling program – a lot of late nights, a lot of drawing, a lot of model-making, a lot of coffee, little sleep. I had an architecture internship at Musho in Manhattan in 2014. Musho does more residential renovations and lobby renovations. I realized I really enjoyed interior architecture. Picking up finishes is my favorite part of my job, paying attention to the details. That internship helped me find my passion within architecture and find another city that I fell in love with. I heard about the league that year. I was finishing up my thesis while playing on the Beauts. Then I started a full-time job at Foit-Albert in Buffalo. I took the next year off from hockey, focused on my career a little bit. Then I got the call from the Riveters. Since I really enjoyed the city, I moved back and started working in my current job in October 2017.

What’s the most fulfilling part of your job in architecture and the most fulfilling part of being a professional hockey player?
In my architecture job, the most fulfilling part is being able to either have the contractor sending photos or walking into a physical space that you’ve seen from it’s conception – seeing the sketches of the design and you were able to make it a physical thing.

In hockey, in goaltending specifically, the most fulfilling thing is being able to help your team meet a goal that’s greater than yourself. I like the responsibility of my team depending on me, and it’s kind of the same in architecture, being able to contribute to built things. Also, the autograph line after every game is amazing. I love seeing the younger generation aspiring to make their hockey dreams a reality. To them I say, even if by then hockey can be their only profession, it’s important to still try to be well-rounded. It never hurts to have multiple passions.

What skills have you learned in hockey that have contributed to your work, and what skills have you learned in your career that have impacted your life as an athlete?
The whole communication and teamwork thing, knowing when to step up and when to step back and let another person lead – I’ve learned that from a young age being involved in sports. I was an assistant captain at Colgate as a senior and involved in the leadership academy at Colgate, and I think that helped in my professional career.

In my career, with architecture and math, as a goaltender I’m able to use angles to my benefit.

What are your other hobbies?
I have an Etsy business called Rusted Tower Design because I also fell in love with water towers. I have a favorite water tower in Buffalo. It’s bright blue and you can see it in the skyline. I have a tattoo of it on my back. My boyfriend, my friend and I were inspired by it, so we made a shop and we sell custom fabricated gifts.

I also am a rider experience associate at Swerve Fitness, a team indoor cycling place, because it’s one of my favorite ways to work out.