There are many details that seem to have come together at the right time under the right circumstances to shape and ultimately define Carly Moran’s high school hockey career with the Winona Winhawks. She developed an early interest in hockey, which she inherited from her father, Mike, who became attracted to the sport while living in Bemidji and watching his friends play. In addition, she lives in a town small enough to allow her to play on the high school team at a young age.
But one of the most defining moments, one that Moran sees as more significant now than it did at the time, occurred when her older brother, Jay, home from college, and invited her to play a little hockey with him and a few of his buddies.
“When I was a sophomore, my brother came home from college and got together with some of his friends who played high school hockey with him,” Moran recalled. “They invited me to play with them and they didn’t go easy on me. It was just fun playing on a higher level.”
So Moran laced up her skates, and for a couple of hours out on ice at the Bud King Ice Arena on Front Street, she played with her older brother and his friends, keeping up with them and experiencing a higher level of competition than she was used to.
“We just scrimmaged, pretty much,” Jay remembered. “She wasn’t used to the speed of passes and the kind of hockey she experienced that day. Girls' and guys' hockey is different. I think it helped her because she got a little taste of a different style of hockey than she was used to playing. It made it easy for her to expand her skills a little bit.”
Even her father noticed the change in her skill after that game.
“My dad said from then on I played much better,” she said.
“Carly is one of those unique players,” WSHS girls hockey head coach Tom Sanvik said. “I think she is one of the best players in the state – that nobody knows about – and I strongly feel that way.”
For the 2013-2014 Minnesota high school girls’ regular hockey season, Moran finished sixth in goals with 44, was 13th in points (which is the combination of goals and assists) with 62, and tied for 87th place in assists with 18. She has played on the varsity squad since seventh grade and has made Big 9 All Conference since eighth grade. She earned All State Honorable Mention last year and she is set to receive that honor again, or even be named All State. Hockey aside, Moran has excelled in other sports such as soccer (All State 2013, with numerous honors), track (made it to State, even though she said that she “really [doesn’t] like track”), and tennis (varsity for her seventh and eighth-grade years). Recently, she was named as a Winona Senior High School (WSHS) Triple A finalist, an achievement that recognizes her outstanding participation in not only athletics, but academics and the arts.
“She holds all of the WSHS scoring records, but you know that,” Sanvik said.
Moran, on the other hand, is not as quick to talk about her records. “I think [I hold scoring records],” she said in a nonchalant tone. “I don’t know exactly which ones. I think I have some soccer and hockey records, but I’ll have to look that up.”
Her humility and ability to play with any member of her team is something that stands out to other players as well as to her coach.
“She has been the best player on the team for a couple of years, but she’s still incredibly humble,” Sanvik said.
Family has always been important to Moran. Early on, her parents early on showed dedication to her hockey career, driving her to practice and tournaments throughout the state. She's also quick to point out that tagging along with her older brothers Marty and Jay as a kid had an impact on her skills.
“She just has that hockey in her blood,” Sanvik said. “She has two older brothers who roughed her up a bit, and her mom, Sally, is a competitive person. Even when they (the Moran family) play a game of Monopoly, there’s a sense of urgency to win.”
Moran’s favorite hockey players, the ones she looks up to the most, are not the Minnesota hometown favorites like Gigi Marvin or T.J. Oshie; instead, her biggest influences come from a closer, more personal source.
“My brothers,” Moran responded, when asked which players she admires most, with no pause in her voice to mull the question. “I have always looked up to my brothers and how they’ve excelled in athletics and leadership.”
As she has gotten older and accumulated more and more honors both on and off the ice, Moran’s relationship with her big brothers, though always constant, has grown as well.
“My brothers are my biggest supporters, and even though they live far away, they still come to as many of my games as they can,” she said.
For her brothers, the feeling is mutual.
“Carly is absolutely amazing at everything she puts her heart into,” Jay said. “Everybody loves her and respects her for taking people under her wing and handling different situations. As she’s gotten older, we’ve gotten a lot closer. Growing up with her has made me appreciate her a lot.”
Moran plans to play hockey at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls next year.