Engineering undergrad is an expert on ice
What do you get when you mix two NCAA women’s hockey championships, a lot of math and a few cranberries? The answer is a glimpse at the life of Rachel Bible, a junior materials science and engineering student who plays defense for the women’s hockey team.
A native of Black River Falls, Wisconsin, she grew up on her father’s cranberry farm. “I learned to skate when the cranberry beds froze in the winter,” she says.
Bible’s hockey days began at age 5 when she watched her older brother, J.T., try on hockey gear. “I thought the equipment looked cool, so I tried it,” she says. Bible played on a variety of youth teams, including the Madison Capitols, before coming to UW-Madison. “I knew I wanted to play for my home state school,” Bible says.
Her career has been marked by her effort and consistency, according to Assistant Coach Dan Koch. “A lot of girls feed off of her energy,” he says. “The team gets around the net before a game, and Rachel’s the one in the middle of the crowd leading the chant.”
Koch says Bible has been on the lineup since joining the team in 2005. “Rachel gets in there and battles. She’s not big, but she competes,” he says. Bible is 5’6”.
Hockey practice and weight lifting—dubbed “dry land” work by Koch—take up three-and-a-half hours each day. Bible describes hockey as a full-time job in addition to her full course load. “It can be hard, but I’ve learned time management skills and how to get everything done,” she says.
Bible says engineering is something she “fell into and went with” after a conversation with her dad during high school. She says she’s studying materials science because it will help her pursue her interest in aerospace companies or ammunition development. Additionally, the course load for materials science is more manageable with a sport schedule, Bible says.
Bible has also found time for professional experience. She’s worked for two summers as an intern and purchasing/production assistant at the Sparta, Wisconsin, based Multistack, which produces commercial air conditioners.
She is one of two engineers on the hockey team, and she says she offers advice to Malee Windmeier, a freshman student intending to pursue engineering. Koch says in his seven years as a coach, Bible and Windmeier are the only engineers he’s seen on the team.
“Rachel is very intelligent and that carries over to the ice,” Koch says. “She really understands the game and it shows.” Koch says that as a junior Bible is expected to be a leader for the three freshmen who joined the team this year on defense. The extra responsibility to offer positive comments and encouragement hasn’t appeared to faze Bible. “Rachel doesn’t get stressed out,” Koch says. “She’s calm most of the time and if she’s nervous, she doesn’t show it.”
When she does have some rare free time, Bible says she visits home and her parents, James Bible and Rebecca Brandon. In addition to her older brother, she has twin 7-year-old siblings, Ethan and Emma. “Right now I’m Ethan’s idol,” Bible says with a proud smile. “He lives hockey.”