Kendall Cornine, a fourth year Exercise Science major and forward for the RIT women's hockey team, was recently drafted by the Metropolitan Riveters of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL). Not only was she the sixth pick in the 2019 NWHL Draft, but she is the first ever player from RIT to get drafted to the league.

Cornine is appreciative to have this opportunity to achieve such a feat and she credits her team and coaches for helping her succeed. 

“It’s exciting. I’m glad that I have been given the opportunity to get there,” she explained. “The coaching staff [at RIT] have been so supportive.”

Cornine's career at RIT is not the only factor that helped her become a skilled player. It was a dream that stuck with her from childhood to adulthood. 

A Love Found on the Streets

Cornine has been playing hockey with her brother by her side, ever since her youth on the streets of Kinnelon, N.J. Although she grew up playing along side her brother, the birth of her career can be attributed to her older neighbor. Seeing the enjoyment he was getting out of hockey caused her to have a high interest in the sport.

“He [the neighbor] was four or five years older than my brother and I. We would see him out playing street hockey and we would play with him,” she said.

When high school came around, Cornine took hockey from the streets to the rink as opportunities began to come at the most unexpected moments. Her neighbor’s father invited her to go to a training session to learn how to skate on ice instead of concrete, and learn the basic mechanics of professional hockey. Cornine picked up skating quickly with the help of her early interest, and soon gained a greater love and understanding for the game of hockey. 

At Morristown-Beard School she played 74 games, earned 104 goals and 95 assists. High school hockey was a learning experience and helped shape the player Cornine is today with the help of her coach and former NHL star, Bruce Driver. He pushed her to become more competitive, along with giving her a better understanding of the game that helped her become completely comfortable on the ice.

"High school hockey was a lot of fun," Cornine said. "I was playing with all my friends from school and club hockey."

After graduating high school, she new she wanted to take it to the next level. It was a dream and goal at the time to play Division I hockey.

Cornine knew she liked RIT the moment she stepped on campus her junior year of high school, but we were not the only school that wanted Cornine. Luckily the enticement of RIT was enough to keep her away from other schools hungry for her talent. 

“I kinda just fell in love with the campus,” she recalled. “I loved the atmosphere and I knew they had the major I wanted to study. It was a really good fit.”

She was recruited by former Head Coach Scott McDonald. McDonald reassured Cornine that she would be able to make an impact as a freshman, along with her being a good fit for the team in general. Specifically, she was the well-rounded team player that would help the team win and build the hockey program. Being part of a strong team, a strong school for her major and eager to contribute to the team, Cornine was ready to start her college career at RIT. 

A Natural Leader

The two words that Madison Farrand, third year Mechanical Engineering major and teammate, used to describe Kendall Cornine are "hard-working" and "devoted." These traits are exhibited in her day-to-day life at RIT. 

Cornine's typical day involves a lot of practice and hard work academically in addition to physically. She is a morning person, which allows her to get up early to do her assignments. From there on, she spends the rest of her day focusing on practicing and becoming a better hockey player.

“I’m not a big procrastinator. I like to get everything done immediately when it is given so I don’t have to worry about it later. I get it done in the morning, so I have the rest of the day to practice and work on my game,” she said.

Acting as the captain since her third year, Cornine is looked to as a leader among her teammates. Farrand spoke about her observations of Cornine’s work ethic on the ice.

“Kendall leads on the ice. She carries the team, and everyone wants to be her,” Farrand explained. “You need someone like Kendall to show up every day for the team and pushes us to higher standards with our game. She leads by example. One of her best qualities is her devotion to the team. She also puts in the extra work and is always in the gym,” she stated. “She always shows up ready to go.”

Not only do her teammates feel she is a devoted leader, but so do her coaches at RIT. Assistant coach, Hannah McGowan, could attest to Cornine's leadership on and off the ice.

“Kendall is a natural leader,” she said. “She leads by example. You can see it in her demeanor.”

McGowan is not just a coach to Cornine — they have a very close mentorship and friendship. McGowan used to play in the NWHL as well and helped Cornine through the recruiting process. She had reached out to NWHL coaches and was Cornine’s main line of communication to the league.

Through the hard work and determination on and off the ice, and through a group of supportive teammates and coaches, Cornine was more then appealing to the NWHL.

Looking Towards the Future

Cornine is still playing strong with the Tigers for the remainder of the season and is determined to complete the team goal of winning the College Hockey American (CHA) Championship this upcoming March.

Although she still has strong dedication to RIT, Cornine is also looking forward to playing in the NWHL and helping to grow the league, which was founded in 2015 with only four teams. 

“I would love to play in the NWHL [long-term]. Getting the opportunity to get drafted and help grow the league is a goal for myself. I would really love to see myself in it,” she mentioned.

In regards to long-term future goals, Cornine would love to be an Olympian if the opportunity was presented to her. Playing in the Olympics requires immense work, so it would be a challenging hurdle for Cornine to get over, but she is more than willing to put in the effort.

One thing is certain for the future though: that Cornine will succeed in the NWHL as her teammates and coaches all believe in her abilities.

“Her devotion to the team and getting better [at hockey] just shows how much she cares about the game, which will help her when she goes professional,” Farrand mentioned. “I’m not surprised she’s going pro.”

When it’s all said and done, Cornine always looks to a quote that she lives by.

"It’s all about not worrying about the little things, because in a week or even year they may not matter anymore," she said.

Great opportunities can come from little moments, early mornings, hard practices and an unwavering dedication to the team and they make Cornine the remarkable player she is. With her being drafted into the NWHL, she exemplifies the belief that anything is possible if you work for it.