“I just wanted to essentially go watch them play versus kind of where we are now, it’s completely something I didn’t imagine to be happening,” said Kampa. “I was adopted from Bogota, Colombia as a kid by a Minnesotan family, so I’ve lived in Minnesota my entire life and grew up there. That’s kind of how I got introduced to hockey in general.”
The 23-year-old defender played in the NCAA with Bemidji State and is now the director of hockey operations for Dartmouth College’s women’s team. She spent last season as an assistant coach with Hamline University, and founded Minnesota Unbounded with Meredith Lang, an organization dedicated to creating spaces in hockey for girls of colour. She first found out about the Colombian national team two years ago through the NHL’s William Douglas.
“It’s allowed me to connect with some roots that I didn't really know about before,” said Kampa. “Every time I’m in that locker room, I just have a different feeling I guess, and that’s the coolest thing. I feel that part of it is representing your country, but the other part of it is being in a room full of people that you know and you love, and you’re all fighting for the same things.”
“[Tina has] almost this God-given skill,” said Colombian national team coach Sam Uisprapassorn. “She’s just an awesome skater, so I’m excited to see her in this environment [at the Development Cup]. We have some veterans coming back, like Lorena Pedraza. We have Carolina Mendoza. I’m excited to see these veterans coming in and then I’m also excited to see the new players that are joining us. We’ve got a fresh crop of players coming in who are coming from the roller program.”
With there being no ice rink in Colombia, the national team typically arrives for tournaments several days early to get as much time on the ice as possible. At home in Colombia, skills are built on roller rinks. Uisprapassorn, who has been coaching for 17 years in California, and coaches both the women’s and men’s Colombian national teams, describes roller hockey as the “gateway” to ice hockey.
“I think they do a phenomenal job with the dedication and the expectation of where they want to go and how they want to get there,” Kampa said of the Colombian Ice Hockey Federation. “We have the passion, the grit, the determination, the discipline to do all the work. It’s just a matter of the ice. The biggest thing I learned with this group is you get them on the ice from day one to day seven and it’s actually a drastic change.”
Prior to travelling to Kuwait, Colombia’s women’s team competed solely in other international tournaments such as the Pan-American Ice Hockey Tournament in Mexico and the Latam Cup in Florida.
“The interesting thing is, this group is used to [travelling], whether they’re doing it for roller, whether they’re doing it for ice,” said Uisprapassorn. “Have we ever travelled [as far as Kuwait]? No.”
Colombia opened up the Women’s Development Cup with two wins, a 7-2 victory over hosts Kuwait, followed by a 7-3 victory over Ireland. 21-year-old Uribe is tied with Luxembourg’s Bailey Habscheid in scoring, leading the tournament with an astounding seven goals (and one assist) through two games.
“We’re there to win a tournament, but at the end of the day, we do want to see our players develop. We do want to see what our players look like on the ice, and then also find a path for them [to continue developing],” said Uisprapassorn.
“It’s the first time that we’ve played on a big international stage, and even for me personally with my background, it’s the first time that I’ll be on that stage as well, so I think that it will be a really surreal moment, a goosebump moment for sure,” said Kampa. “It’s something that’s going to be really important to our program and the way that we’re able to grow and I think any time you can play on the international stage and represent your country, to showcase your story and your abilities, that’s something that not everybody gets to do every day.”
Heading into the third day of competition, Colombia and Luxembourg lead with two wins each, with Colombia taking the top spot in the standings with the leading goal difference (14-5). The team at the top of the standings following the final round robin game will be declared the inaugural Women’s Development Cup winner.