Average to Savage
Average to Savage

Episode · 8 months ago

Madison Packer | Average to Savage EP142

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

This is the one hundred and forty-second episode of the Average to Savage podcast featuring Metropolitan Riveters captain Madison Packer. Paul Guarino talked with Madison Packer discussing her hockey career at Wisconsin, playing in the NWHL now the PHF, and what its like to be a new mom,

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This podcast interview with Madison Packer was originally recorded on September 16, 2021

...this is the average to Savage podcast with paul Guerrino. Everyone in, anyone athletes celebs and much more. Today's episode is brought to you by b usr dot com. You know, everyone always asks me where they should bet and now I got a solution for them, the U. S. R. Dot com slash paul. You deposit 100 dollars, they'll match your $100 in free bets. So you basically get $200. Go check it out. Be USr dot com slash paul. What's up everybody? I'm back for another episode. The Average Savage podcast. Our special guest today is Madison Packer, Madison. How's it going? Good. How are you? Good? I appreciate you coming on. Finally got you on. Mhm. Yeah, I'm easier to nail down to my wife for sure. Let's just go uh into the rebranding of the W. Of the N. W. H. L. Now it's the PS. H. F. Which I think is easier to say now ph F. Um so what are your thoughts on it and what do you think it's going to come with the new rebranding? Yeah. Um Well I could give you a like fancy pr I want the real, the real answer, but uh it's different. I I understand why they did it, it's gonna change is always hard. We've been the Whl for six seasons thinking we were going to be the whl for 1/7. So um having been there from the beginning and kind of helped build that brand and see everything that went into it. Uh it's kind of sad to see that, you know flame go out, but at the same time, it's exciting to see what comes about from the P. H. F. I think it's gonna be a phenomenal business opportunity for the league. I think that in the past there were things done whether intentionally or not by the whl that just maybe left...

...a bad taste in people's mouths and while the has gained recognition amongst fans and things, I think that there were some companies and businesses that were hesitant to do business with the WHL because of past business experiences. So I think that this new brand and this, this rebrand kind of severs ties with the old brand and we have new leadership, we have more teams, new investors. It really is a whole new and not necessarily improved, but it's just a revamped a new group of people working towards the same goal? I think that, yeah, you know, disassociates us from former leadership and will allow a branch out and kind of create, create something new with the Whl, we're building off of that foundation and moving in a positive direction. Yeah, for sure. I know, obviously last year was crazy for everybody, especially your team, believe you guys have to like pull out of the league, um, for covid is protocols and things like that. Um, are you like, how excited, how more excited are you looking forward to this season that you're actually gonna get like to play like a full season pumped. We've, you know, we've started unofficial practices, so we've got, some of the team already skating together, official practice starts in october. Um, but you know the way everything ended last year sucked? It left a really bad taste in my mouth personally. Um, I think we've got a lot of players coming back who feel the same way. I'm obviously biased because I'm a riveter, but I think we had the best team in the bubble and we never really got a chance to showcase what we had. Um, we were just starting to click and get going and then the whole thing got shut down and we never really got a chance to come back and show what we could do. So I think that the group is excited to get back on the ice. I'm excited. Um, and it kind of changes your perspective. You know, I was driving back from the brink on Tuesday and I was talking to somebody about it. I was like, it's just, it's a different...

...feeling this year, like last year it got ripped away from us and we didn't, we didn't know when we were going to play hockey and we didn't know if we were going to be included in that group of people that got to go, you know, uh, to the final, we didn't know, you know, then there were all these changes through the league. I personally didn't know if I was going to be a riveter again because every year is different contracts. Leadership investors whatever some people you might choose to go in different directions. So there was a lot of uncertainty in the way of the season ended and it sucked. So um I'm more motivated than I've ever been coming into this season. I think a lot of my teammates feel that way I was at practice a couple nights ago and I looked around and I was like I mean I feel threatened out there. There's there's people coming from my spot so that that's a good way to feel. Um So I think we're gonna have a big year. Yeah for sure. Yeah I mean you're only 30 years old obviously that's that's young and regular life but you know pro life that's when like kind of things start uh I guess you know you got to start thinking about your second career and things like that. But you so you've been a part of the league for since the inception. Um like what are the things that you've seen like change like improvement wise and things like that. I know even like the teams like there was only four when you started. Yeah we've added teams obviously uh the private ownership has become more prominent now. I think there's four teams that are privately owned even you know the Minnesota and um Buffalo are technically privately owned by W. H. P. Um So you know every team has now it's smaller groups of investment or a single investor focusing on one or two or three teams as opposed to a whole group of people focusing on all the teams at once. Uh, it allows for more recent, more resources to be allocated to individual teams. Obviously there's the increase in the salary cap, which some people scoffed at. We as athletes think it's huge. Um, that just increases right off the bat, it increases our salary, but it also shows that people are willing to invest in...

...female athletes and invest in our sport. And it draws eyes and attention so we get other businesses investing. Um, and so I mean there's more money in your pocket, the more businesses that come to the door. Um, those have been huge from a personal standpoint. You know, personal sponsorships for me and other athletes across the league, that didn't happen at all in the first season unless you were an olympic athlete. Now, it doesn't matter if you're an Olympian or you only play two games. I mean companies are willing to invest in women and I think that that's huge. You're seeing athletes start to build personal brands and really make a living out of it. Um, and so that's, that's been exciting to watch and be a part of and uh, it's only going to continue to grow and go up from here. Yeah, for sure. And those that don't know your hat stands for for you, which is dope, which is the M in the 14. Um, and then just going back in time. Like I know you grew up in, in michigan, How did, how did you end up going to the University of Wisconsin? Yes, I grew up playing for little caesars, played there for four seasons and uh you know when I was in high school, Wisconsin was like the pinnacle school, it was the place to be as a hockey player. Female hockey player, Minnesota Duluth was also really good. Um you know Harvard was in and out of that top mix Minnesota obviously, but really I felt the W. C. H. A complimented the way that I played gritty, you know, I'm not the fastest player out there. East coast is a little more speed and things like that. The W. C. H. A. Is known for a little bit being a little more physical, just bigger players at least it was at the time when I was playing. Um, but most notably Mark johnson was there, you had players like the a Merman's night Decker Duggan better the list goes on and just be angstrom phenomenal players that they were turning out of the U. S. Program and that was my goal was to be an Olympian and I felt like the way to be the best was to play with the best...

...and try and compete with them on a day to day. So I went and I just fell in love with the campus. It was six hours to me is a drive. So that was a drive from home. Um, and so I could be home overnight if I needed to be. It was close enough that my parents were able to visit all the time. I'm a pretty big home body. So I just fell in love with everything about it. And it was a big 10 school. The football part was a big draw for me. Um, and you know, I loved every minute of it. So I don't, I don't, wouldn't change anything about my decision. Yeah, yeah, for sure. And then not to mention you won the national championship your freshman year. Uh, what, what was that like to just win in your first year? It was surreal. I mean, I think that um, you know that year we were so good. Um, we had, we were stacked, we had uh rigs being met Becca roots, there was the backup cool. I mean that's a pretty good backup goaltender. She played it shaddock um, and just talk to bottom Gina pro, Meghan Duggan. Hilary Knight Caroline provo, the Amur Mons, me um, fricassee like everyone on the roster was were phenomenal players. I left a bunch out. But um, I mean every time we practiced it was like, oh my God, like this is who, who I'm trying to go out and like compete for a spot with. So it was, it was Meghan Duggan is probably one of the best leaders I've ever played with, I say that all the time, she just, she's laid back, but she demands excellence and she's was, it was a great person for me to learn from, she was approachable, she was kind, she was always willing to spend time with the younger players and um you know, even if she didn't really care, she always made you feel like she cared about your development and what you were doing. Um and so it was a good environment to learn in as a rookie and I came and injured that, that's really intimidating, I blew my knee out of my last game in my high school season. Um so I'm already coming in a step behind and I'm like, it's a whole new world...

...now, you go to college, it's already a step faster than what you're used to and I'm, you know, to step slower because I'm coming back from a knee injury. Um so it just was, you know, the minute we got on the ice it was like, wow, this is gonna be a special season and I think we, I think we only lost three games all year um which was pretty cool and we won, we won um the dog and one the petty cash, we won the national championship, we won the regular season and we don't want the wch a championship, so it's set the bar pretty high because then we never got back to that peak of successful I was there, but it was pretty cool to experience that you still have the ring. Yes, right there. I don't know if I have to ask because sometimes people like lose the rings and I'm just like, like how did you lose it? No. Yeah, I still have it. Put on this, like we actually be on. Yeah, we played bu that year in the farm. Yeah, that's great. Um, yeah, and then I know you had a few injuries over your career. Um, well, like what motivated you like through those injuries to come back? Mhm. Um, I think, um, for the most part, and I get everyone gets banged up here and there. Um The biggest one, the hardest one to come back from was my hip where that was a couple of seasons ago and I just remember how hard it was to come back from my knee injury. I had total reconstructive surgery on my knee. I blew my uh, my A. C. L. M. C. L. Meniscus all at the same time and it was just such a grind and I had phenomenal doctors, a great rehab team at the University of Wisconsin. Does Helen who's no longer there? But he was phenomenal in working with me for hours at a time every day. I moved to Madison almost right after I had the surgery. And so then when, I mean when I had to have labor of surgery, I was just like, oh my God, I can't imagine going through that again? Like, I just I don't have I don't have someone to hold my hand like I did at Wisconsin to walk me through every step of the process.

Having I'm having surgery in new york city ahead of the Ny, you dr Lomas did and same thing, he's a world class surgeons. I woke up and walked out of surgery, felt great, but it was just intimidating to think about that rehab process because at the time we didn't have the same resources that we have now um from a legal standpoint. Um but I kind of, you know, a couple of weeks after surgery, I was, I thought to myself, you know, I feel pretty good and I think I could probably play again, so I got connected with some people and um went through the rehab and PT and got back on the ice and I felt great and in that journey of figuring things out for myself, I learned, I spent a lot of time focusing on, like, nutrition and learning how to actually take care of my body, which has made it now easier. I'm in a lot better shape now than I was four or five years ago, which makes it easier as I get older to continue to compete, but also just, I've actually get injured less because I took from that injury and learned how to be better going forward and yeah that's awesome. Um And then just like like what were your thoughts like while you're in college? Like I know there was like a Canadian pro league but I think they don't pay players, is that right? They didn't at the time. I think I think they did I think they did for one season when they paid players but when I was in when I graduated uh I graduated in december 2014 and there was no N. W. H. O. And I thought about still playing but I was like I was gonna like there were the closest team to me I think was in brampton Ontario and I was like or maybe Toronto, I don't know, I moved back home in Detroit and I was like I could go play in Canada but like I'm not going to get a job in Canada and we have to pay to like commute for practices. It just I could play like pick up men's and like the women's league would probably be better because I'm playing against all...

...these former college athletes but this was a lot of lot to put in. Um And then it just kind of lucked out that uh the l form I got an email like this women's professional league starting and I was like all right, we'll check it out I guess. And they were having a free agency camp in Windsor so I drove to Windsor which is about an hour from Detroit And I went out and I like no disrespect to the other players that were there, but I think I might have scored like 30 goals in the, in the hour and 15 minutes like scrimmage shape. And then Dani Rylan was there, the former commissioner and she was pulling players aside so I'm kind of stand off the side listening to her talk to people and she's like, yeah, so you know, we're having another skate in boston, you can come and I'm thinking to myself like I can't do that. I can't take time off of work to go out to boston to like hope that I get a spot on the team somewhere. So I'm up next to talk to her and I'm expecting her to give me the same field and I have to say thanks for the opportunity, but it's just not gonna work for me. And she's like, so you know, I really like what we saw and we'd love to assign you to a contract in new york. And I was like, yeah, I mean like, I mean I was was that was six years ago. I was like, yeah, I mean still living at home. So I probably asked my parents, but I'm in so I packed up my car and I moved to the East coast expecting to play one season of hockey and then moved back to the midwest and now I'm married with a son and a mortgage in Connecticut uh huh and that's the end of the podcast now. Anyway. Uh but yeah, no, that's like crazy to think about. Like, so like I'm saying like you were in college, but you had no idea like if there's ever going to be like, kind of like a pro, like lead basically. Yeah, no, I mean it was, it's actually like crazy, like whirlwind of emotions. So my senior year were playing in the national championship in uh, quinnipiac I think. And um, yeah, and uh, we lost to Minnesota in the semis and I had...

...been released from the national program. So I wasn't playing with usa hockey anymore and I'm sitting there thinking to myself, I'm sitting in the corridor of the ring talking to my parents and I was like, that's it. Like my coffee clears over. I just went from playing on one of the best college teams in the world tonight. I'll never play another competitive hockey games the rest of my life. It was like such a heartbreaking experience. And I couldn't for like months, it was depressing and I couldn't wrap my head around how this thing that has defined you right because you go to college, you're a college athlete. But like if there's classes that conflict with with practice, maybe you don't get to take those classes. Like it depends, you know, it all depends. And so all of a sudden this thing that is completely consumed you, it paid for my education, it drove me to where I where I was, it just means nothing now. Um and then obviously the league form and that's changed for me and I've been able to make a career out of that sport for a long time but it could have gone a very different way and I um and that for me like that was really like for a long time, I I've talked about that a lot like it's just that's depressing like there were no resources and that was what it was so crazy is like you go from having all of these resources as an athlete like down to like meal cards like they hold your hand with everything, which is great. We were completely pampered at Wisconsin but then the minute you're done being an athlete it's very isolating and confusing and um you just kind of left to fend for yourself, I think that you know, former athletes who are still in Madison every have done a good job of creating resources and starting some programs to help athletes out. So that doesn't happen. Um but yeah, it's unfortunate that the end of it all started when it did because you know, I don't know how it would have been without that. Yeah. Yeah, that's why it's just crazy to meet for me. Like think about like how do you mentally like, like you obviously probably want to go pro if you're at one of the big schools and then you're just like there...

...is no pro really? Yeah like it's just crazy to think about all right now I'm gonna put you on the spot. I'm gonna ask you the same question when she comes on. How did you guys meet? So so when I when I retired retired when I decided I wasn't gonna play anymore, I announced my retirement, I was done. I was having hip surgery blah blah had surgery came back, felt good, decided I wanted to come back and play called chad Wiseman who was the coach at the time and he said sounds like a good idea what are your teammates think? So I started calling my teammates one by one and was like, hey I want to come back but I want to make sure you're good with it so if you're not I won't play. This is why I want to play. Are you cool? Called everyone on the team. Everyone was good with it. One of my teammates suggested that I call on you to at the time on your Battellino. She was the head of the P. A. And you know she could probably help me in getting you know back with the league and whatever. So I called her and I said you know I had surgery and I had just I told her I had just gone I had just broken up with my former um longtime girlfriend. I was like, I just went through a breakup, like I just want to play hockey again and I can do it and whatever, and she goes, okay, yeah, I'm happy to help in any way I can sorry to hear about the break up. You know, if you ever want to talk whatever, I'm a resource for you didn't talk for a while, then we just started kind of texting about hockey and whatever and she asked me out a couple of times, I grab a drink and I was like, yeah thanks, but no thanks. Like I'm just going to do my own thing for a while and she was pretty persistent. So then I'm coaching Beantown, this was like over the course of maybe eight weeks. And she text me and she's like what are you doing this weekend? I said I'm coaching Beantown. Oh my God, me too. No way! So a bunch of coincidences happened throughout the weekend and she's like, I just got done coaching. Um What about you? I said, yeah, I finished at whatever time, if you want to come by my hotel, we can grab a beer in the lobby, but I've got a coach early in the morning. So she drives in my hotel, we grab a beer, we ended up...

...talking, we had one beer in the lobby hotel and I ended up sitting there talking until like six am, I didn't I never went to bed, just talked all night and then I went and coached in the morning and yeah, she texted me and I was like, yeah, I really enjoyed hanging out. Like we should grab dinner or something sometime. So we went out to dinner, she took me to this like super fancy french place because she thought I was like boujee and so we would sit down to eat, I can't pronounce a single thing on the menu. I'm like, I guess I'll get the quail because it sounds kind of like chicken and we could happen to the meal. It's like do not like it. I was like, honestly I'm more of like a burger kind of girl. And she was, oh my God, I thought you were like super high maintenance. She's like, let's leave until we wouldn't grab burgers. And I found out months later, I didn't know months later, I think it was after we were engaged, she wasn't coaching Beantown, she was at her apartment in Connecticut and jumped in the car and drove to Beantown to meet me for a beer and then just turned around and drove back. I can't wait to hear her story now. It makes me sound like a real jerk, like she's like mad. It was like, no way, thanks, but no thanks, I do. It's very, just like no thank you, I'm all set. Mhm That's hilarious now. I know you guys had your son last year. He he just turned one. So happy birthday again. What? How is that like changed you? Um It's the best thing in the world, it's like immediately your life changes in a way that like, I can't even explain, but um it's just you look at everything from a different perspective um and and you really wanted a baby girl and so I really wanted a boy, so I was like so excited when I found out we were having a boy, but it's just fun like to have this little human who relies on you for everything and looks up to you and like he does everything I do he and it mimics. Um and it's exciting, I think that um you know, he...

...comes to practice with me every now and then uh it's completely changed my priorities and made me like reconsider why I do everything that I do because like this next generation, he's obviously a boy, but you know, this next generation of kids that we talk about in pioneering in sports and just in the world in general, this next generation of little humans, like they're not just this idea now we're raising this next generation of people. Um So it's there's a weird light pressure, but it's also like I I can't describe it, it's just it's the coolest feeling and there's so much love, like I didn't think it was possible to love something so much, like I love him more than anything in the world and it's just, it's completely filled our lives and there's never a dull moment. There's never a spare moment, but we wouldn't change it for the world. Yeah. You guys definitely have some funny videos with them too. I saw. And you were doing the curl ups and you've got him on the bar to, uh, um, and then going back into hockey, I forgot to ask you like, what does it mean to you to be like the captain of your team? Mm. I think, um, it's obviously an honor anytime you get a letter in that kind of recognition from your coaching staff for your teammates, whatever. I think I've been around for so long. I'm like the fossil at this point. It's kind of like who else. Um, but I say this all the time and I really believe it. I think that we have to think if I weren't there, there's a long list of players in our locker room who are phenomenal leaders. Um, I think that's what has made me being a captain for as long as I have been so easy. It's just that, you know, there's, I have a lot of other leaders around me to rely on And it's, it's easy to do the job. It doesn't, it's not like a pressure and there's not this extra, it's not like a job on top of a job. It's just you go...

...to practice and you've got a lender on your chest. But I've got 20 other teammates who could have the same one and do the same thing. So um it's a nice kind of pat on the back, but I don't necessarily think it changes anything um from like my role standpoint, it's just, it is what it is. Yeah, sure. You're just humble. Yeah. Just going, it's a non uh hockey stuff. Uh like what else do you like to do in your free time? Um We travel, we don't travel a lot, which we travel like for long periods of time. Um I like to be in the warm weather. I love to ride my bike uh in the off season. I ride like 2030 40 miles a day. Um So I got a new bike like last, right when Covid hit um about a new bike right before the national bike shortage occurred. Um And so now we go down, we've been going on the floor in the last two years, we go down to like eight weeks in the off season. Um And that's just, that's what it's been really good for my training, my mental health, my like rejuvenated to be outside in the sun. Um So we go to florida every year for a couple of weeks and my family has a place in Northern michigan, we go there for six or so weeks, we'd like to be outside on the water. Um and and I both are pretty involved in different mental health campaigns and things like that. So that's something that I'm increasingly getting involved with and more passionate about. Um I also have another job outside of playing hockey so I don't have a ton of free time, but most of my free time I'm either on my bike just trailer so I can bring away along with me. Um but usually outside doing something. Not a big hiker though. I can't hike. I can't camp. All right. Um And then what about like, I don't know if you guys, I don't know if you guys are allowed to do it, but if you could do it, who would you want to do? Like a jersey exchange with...

...mm mm Grant Mentis. All right. Grant Mentis or um maybe Dempsey Just because like we're like two of the two captains that have just like always been there. Yeah grandma grandma is a pretty good hockey player. I do like that. You guys get new like new design jerseys every year. I think that's pretty cool. Yeah. Um Did you? Yeah, I don't know if those are the ones that it was like they mocked him up I guess there. I don't think they're real right. The mock ups that they came out with like last week, maybe they were like, like the retro like retro, there's like a tease. They're really going to come out with them or they're not or like yeah, the miracle or something Toronto six was like if you if you think the T six was like if we get enough interest maybe we'll do a special on these. Those aren't going to actually be the jerseys. I don't think I don't know. I haven't seen our jerseys yet. I heard we're getting three jersey. Isn't it pretty cool or maybe they released him and I just didn't see it on social media. But yeah, I was gonna say, I think I saw one team released their jerseys. I don't know. I don't know because those other ones messed me up because that's always confused about if those are real or like alternates or what? Yeah. What about what something people don't know about you so then people don't know about me. Um I'm afraid of the dark sure. And I'm actually very sensitive. All right. Like I'm very sensitive. I was I was driving one of my teammates the other day and she's like you're really sensitive and I was like, yeah, I know it's actually like people think I'm not and then they like say things and I'm just like I'm actually super sensitive.

I put on a good front though because I'm like out on the eyes like all tough and tumbling but I'm very, I'm soft inside. I got you. Oh yeah that that's what that before when I lost my train of thought now I remember what we were talking about and just our age because I'm 29 2 and now I feel like old even though we're like not old, but like just like we're going younger people now, I'm just like wow, this is like kind of weird And I'm sure that's how you feel with like younger players, like you're playing with, like you can play with 22 year olds now. Mhm. Yeah, it's uh it's fun, it's like also my dad pokes fun at me sometimes because like Uh two seasons ago I played with Brook Baker who was on the 12 you little caesars team and I used to go out and coach them and like I was skating in summer skates this summer training, like I went out to train kelly nash was running some skates and I was like doing drills against kids that I coached like a couple of seasons ago who are now in college and are out of these skates and we're going against each other in drills and I was like, can I hit them like what? But that's kind of weird. Um But it's also fun because it's like yeah there's there's like a 56 year age gap, but Brooke area is one of my best friends and there's like five years between us, I think Rebecca russo is my best friend, there's three or four years between us. Um So yeah, there's an age gap, it's like, but I mean like you in college there's that 34 year age gap, but it's been uh interesting. You learned, I learned a lot. I mean, you learned from the older players too. But I feel like I learned a lot more from the younger players because it's also like now it's at the point where there's that four or 56 year gap where things that are important to them are things that weren't even on my radar when I was their age. Like, especially like the,...

I've always been passionate about mental health. But these younger generations of kids like, and they really talk about it. They talk about it openly. They talk about like their experiences with it. They just talk about in a conversation. Um, and there's just, I mean, there's other, they don't even get me started on Tiktok and social media stuff like we talked about like how do you like music? They're like path to make a playlist. I'm like, you don't wanna listen to music. I've been listening to the same playlist since like 2010, but so it's fun because there are so many different interests, but like there's so many common interests. Um, and I probably learned a lot more from them than they learn from me. So yeah, I mean, I think the younger people make you make you feel young too and like keep you up to date with the hip, new trending stuff. All right. Well, I appreciate you coming on. And uh, could you let the listeners know where they can follow you at? Yeah, you can find me on twitter. It's Madison underscore packer. Uh, I'm on instagram and pack of 14. I am on Tiktok now also impact or 14 Paul pushed me to get on Tiktok, but no videos yet, but we will have some content soon. I promise. I'm just big into the Tiktok. So you're she went viral. Yeah, Yeah. And I've got a new coming out with some new stuff soon. In the next um couple weeks probably. I'll have a shop up on power forward. All right. And I appreciate it. And best of luck this upcoming season. Thanks bob. This episode has been brought to you by B USr dot com. Go check it out to get your free $100 bet when you deposit a $100 at B. U. S. R. Dot com slash paul. Okay. Yeah.

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