Cayla Barnes was not the strongest, fastest, or even tallest kid on her sports teams back home. Just the opposite - she was typically one of the smallest. Cayla grew up in southern California and established her foundation on the ice as a figure skater. Her four older brothers played ice hockey and the more Cayla was exposed to the game, the more she craved to play and compete. In Cayla’s hometown, girls hockey teams were nonexistent; if she wanted to play hockey, she would need to play on the youth boys team. Cayla’s passion to play could not be challenged by adversity and she competed with the boys’ teams until she was 14. “I did not recognize the magnitude of that fact at the time, but it was really cool to set that example for other young girls."
Pursuing her Passion
Cayla knew that to reach the highest level of her sport and follow her dreams, she had to explore her potential.
At age 14, Cayla made the tough decision to move away from home to get the practice experience she needed against female hockey players. “My family is my biggest supporters. Whenever I voiced my doubts about failing, my mom would always ask, ‘What if you don’t fail, what if you fly? And I have that tattoo on my body to remind me to keep going.”
The Olympic Arena
It was no easy feat to get to the elite level of female competition. At 5’2 and 18 years of age, Cayla found herself playing defense for the 2018 US Olympic team as the smallest and youngest player on the team. “I was playing against 30-year-old women. I was never the strongest or fastest-I had to combat that physical difference to sustain my performance and train to get strong.” Practice with the national team had a much quicker pace than any other team practices she’d experienced. It’s longer hours of skating on the ice, and at a much higher intensity. With the daily increase of intensity came the need to recover quickly and efficiently.
From Skates to OOFOS
Cayla was first introduced to OOFOS from world-renowned strength and conditioning coach Mike Boyle. Mike trains professional athletes and fitness enthusiasts in the greater Boston area and has been an avid partner of the OOFOS brand. With Cayla’s history of plantar fasciitis coupled with the amount of time that she spends in her skates, Boyle knew she would benefit from an impact-absorbing technology like OOfoam™. Hockey skates are rigid and stiff. In fact, most hockey players wear their skates a size smaller than their shoe size. The goal is to ensure minimal movement in the skate for better control on the ice. Slipping your feet into OOFOS after being cramped in skates allows the feet to evenly distribute across the footbed and cradle the arches so that the foot is in a more natural position.
In conjunction with balancing the demands of being an Olympian, Cayla is one of the starting defenders on her collegiate hockey team. She is majoring in Communications, with a minor in Management and Leadership and plans to start grad school in January. Given Cayla’s schedule, her free time needs to be intentional. “I don’t have a lot of time between games with the long collegiate season,” Cayla explains.
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“I have to find ways to recover when I am busy. Wearing my OOFOS to the grocery store and around campus - they do a really great job at alleviating pressure. They help me recover fast and play at 100% for the next day.”