Defender Paige Faber always seems to go where Maple Grove needs her.
When her team needed a goalie, Faber filled in against White Bear Lake in a shutout victory. The 79ers lacked defense this season after seniors graduated. Faber has played there, too.
The senior has been a defender in her final year with the Maple Grove adapted floor hockey team after playing primarily on offense since seventh grade. She has scored more than 100 career goals for her team and is one assist from triple digits in that category.
She plays all three adapted sports — soccer, floor hockey and softball — in the cognitively impaired division. The Maple Grove floor hockey team is 10-4 this season heading into its section game against South Suburban (6-7) on Thursday.
“You run more on forward than defense,” Faber said. “[Now], I protect the goal.”
Faber isn’t the only hockey player in her family. Her ninth-grade brother, Brock, is committed to Notre Dame for hockey. He currently plays for Osseo-Maple Grove in Bantam AA.
Brock and Paige pass the puck and work on stick handling in their basement when the two are not playing with their teams. This time of year, the Faber family often has two different state tournaments to attend: one for Brock and one for Paige.
“It’s cool because we both play hockey; we both can relate,” Brock said. “It’s fun watching her and how much we both love it.”
Paige started playing for Maple Grove in seventh grade after a gym teacher told her older sister, Payton, about the adapted sports. Maple Grove had a lot of players Paige’s first year, and she mostly played on the wing. She started moving to different positions the following season.
“She’s been a top player since she joined the team,” 79ers coach Kelli Waalk-Gilbertson said. “Paige is out there competing with the boys and we kind of have a saying — play like a girl and show the boys how it’s done.”
Paige’s team is made up of three different school districts: Maple Grove, Osseo and Park Center High School. Many of the same players are on an adapted soccer team named Park Center in the fall, then many are on Osseo in the spring when they play softball. Waalk-Gilbertson coaches all three sports.
When they are not competing, the 79ers go to Dave & Busters and Wild Games. The mothers of the players set up times for the team members to hang out.
“Everyone is kind of in the same boat. These kids throw out the idea, and the moms help with the logistics of it,” said Karri, Paige’s mother. “They all have so much fun together.”
Paige has also eclipsed 100 goals in soccer. The team has claimed three consecutive state titles in the sport. Though Paige was a scoring threat for her team, Park Center lost their goalkeeper to graduation and Paige switched from forward to goalie. They won the state tournament with her in front of the net last season.
Karri said Paige is also willing to help out at home the same way she is with athletics. Paige offers to fold the towels from the dryer and take the Faber’s black Labrador for walks.
“If anybody asks her to do something, whatever it is, she says, ‘Oh, I can do that. No big deal,’ ” Karri said.
Paige played first base last season for Osseo High School in the spring. Waalk-Gilbertson mentioned that her softball team’s pitcher graduated last year.
“I’ll be pitcher,” Paige said.
Jack White is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.