Growing up living around the block from a rink, Denise Cattani, was always around ice skating, so it was no shock when her son, Chicago Blackhawks prospect, Evan Barratt, grew a passion for ice hockey at a young age.
Barratt was invited to try-out for the United States National Development Program (USNTDP) when he was fourteen years-old. After successfully making the USNDT, he moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, after his sophomore year of high school.
In the 2017 NHL draft, Barratt got picked by the Blackhawks in the third round, 90th overall. “It was an amazing experience for Evan and our family when he was drafted,” Denise said. “We were all so nervous for him because we knew how bad he wanted it to happen. Being drafted by Chicago Blackhawks in Chicago was one of our most memorable moments in hockey.”
Since then, Barratt’s been playing college hockey for Penn State University while his mother continues to surround herself with ice skating.
Denise lives in Bristol, Pennsylvania and commutes for about an hour to ProSkate Ice Arena in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey, where she’s a General Manger. When asked how she came upon working at ProSkate she said, “I have been in the industry for a long time and I worked at almost all the rinks in the area. ProSkate is the nicest facility, with an awesome staff, and friendly clientele.”
Being a hockey parent while working in the same industry proved to be difficult for Denise. “Being in the recreation business required working on weekends and therefore I missed a lot of Evan’s games, that was really hard,” she said.
ProSkate has a new importance in the hockey world. This season the rink now hosts NWHL team, Metropolitan Riveters. “We are very happy to host the Riveters at ProSkate. It brings another level of hockey to our facility,” Denise said. “It does have some minor locker room challenges, but I feel we have a capable staff and our travel program is very supportive with helping us accommodate the Riveters. We have quite a few girls playing ice hockey at ProSkate in our in-house Junior Stars Program and our Stars Travel Teams. This is an opportunity to have the girls in our Program witness a well-established Women’s Team.”
Denise’s advice to parents who have kids dreaming of playing professional hockey? “Focus on the moment – not the future – when it comes to sports with children. It is our job as parents to find an activity that a child really loves and wants to do day in and day out. Keeping children involved in a specific sport is sometimes hard because children can’t decide what they like best when they are really young. As the child gets older, it’s wise to start to narrow down a specific sport and pursue it! Becoming a professional athlete requires drive, talent, and a ton of luck.”