When Kaylyn Forliti graduated from North Branch High School in the spring of 2018, she realized her hockey career might be over.
That made her realize something else: Forliti was not ready to stop playing hockey.
“I realize that hockey for me isn’t a lifetime thing, because there’s no NHL for women or anything like that,” she said. “But hockey is something that makes me happy. It relives stress, and it’s a way for me to work on my time management skills. I thought it was beneficial for me to keep playing.”
So Forliti is still playing the game she loves, taking regular shifts as a forward on the women’s team at Bethel University.
“When I toured Bethel, the coach and I made a huge connection,” she said. “He made me feel as if I could make a difference at Bethel, both on the ice and in the classroom. Bethel felt like home, and those are the main reasons I chose Bethel.”
Forliti quickly learned that there are big differences between high school hockey and college hockey – and the differences go well beyond the improved level of competition at the college level.
“I have to put more time into both hockey and into school [now that I am in college],” she said. “In college hockey there is some travel, and at times I need to talk with professors if I have to miss their class. And there is weightlifting – right now we lift weights at 6:15 in the morning every other day.”
Forliti admitted her love of hockey was tested in her freshman year.
“I had to figure out how to play hockey and go to school, so it was hard to adjust at first,” she said. “But now I love the sport just as much as I did when I was a kid. It helped me understand why I love the sport as much as I do. If you don’t have the dedication and the heart to go through this, you wouldn’t be able to get up at 6:15 in the morning to lift. You have to love it.”
This season Forliti has played in all 12 games for Bethel, which has a 4-8 record. She scored a goal in the Royals’ 6-3 loss to No. 8 Wisconsin-River Falls on Friday, Jan. 10, giving her eight goals for her career.
Her best game last season included a hat trick in a 5-3 victory over St. Benedict on Jan. 11, 2019.
Off the ice, Forliti originally intended to study athletic training and biokinetics, but she said last year she changed her major to social work, with plans to graduate in the spring of 2022.
“With that degree, I’d like to work in substance abuse rehab centers or work in family services,” she explained. “I will probably go to graduate school after that, hopefully to become more knowledgeable in those areas.”