Homer hockey player to hone skills in Canada academy

Though Mychaela Pitta is only 17, she’s been playing hockey for the majority of her life. She hopped on a pair of skates when she was 3 years old, and now she’s ridden them all the way to Manitoba, Canada, where she’ll spend the better part of the next year.

Pitta, a senior at Homer High School, is one of 18 young women who will play on a team during the Pilot Mound Hockey Academy in Pilot Mound, Manitoba.

The academy has had a male program for a few years now, but this is the first year there’s been a program for girls, said her mother, Lisa Pitta. The players were expected to arrive Monday.

Mychaela and her peers will participate in the specialized program by playing hockey twice a day, every day. There’s also a study hall and the participants will attend the community school. She’s played every position growing up, including goalie. Mychaela now classifies as a defensive forward, she said.

“I think I always knew this was my future, that I was always going to be able to rely on hockey,” she said.

When Mychaela was sought out for the academy while attending a hockey camp, she said she and her family didn’t believe it was real at first. Though she’s nervous about being so far from home, adapting to a new environment and making friends, she said they took some time to think about it and decided she couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

“I think this is a great opportunity for her,” Lisa said. “And … a really balanced method of going even farther out to college, because in this academy there will be support for her.”

At the same time, there are many aspects of the experience Mychaela’s looking forward to.

“I’m really excited for the culture,” she said. “Because that’s where everything started, and I just could soak up all the information and embrace myself with all of this hockey knowledge that I just live for.”

The academy is a stepping stone for youth or high school hockey players to help them reach the next level, Lisa said. Mychaela said that, “if dreams come true,” she’d like to play hockey in college. A few colleges have reached out to Mychaela, but she said she hopes participating in the academy will make her more visible and open more opportunities for her.

“If I get that chance to go any further, that would be great,” she said. “Wherever it takes me is fine by me.”

Everyone in the Pitta family, except for Lisa, is “hockey crazy,” Mychaela said. Both her brother and sister have both coached her in the sport, and her dad was a junior hockey coach when the family lived in British Columbia, having moved from Anchorage, before they came to Homer.

For Mychaela, her teachers are some of the people who have had the greatest impact on her growing up, and were a large factor in her decision of whether to stay or go.

“It was really hard to let them go,” she said. “They molded me to be the person I am now.”

When it comes right down to it, hockey is much more than a sport for her. She’s split time between school and the sport in order to play in Kenai and even Anchorage, traveling multiple times per week, Lisa said.

“Everyone in Homer, I would say, is an artist,” Mychaela said. “And I would say hockey for me is like taking an art class, because I can be as creative as I want to be.”

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@homernews.com.