Former UND goalie Kristen Campbell fulfilling a dream at the 2022 Winter Olympics
After the Fighting Hawks women's program was cut, Campbell won an NCAA title at Wisconsin and is now aiming for Olympic gold.
GRAND FORKS — Erik Fabian remembers what Kristen Campbell told him during the recruiting process.
"She said, 'I want to play in the Olympics,'" recalled Fabian, the UND assistant coach at the time. "She wanted to be there. That's what drove her. She wanted to be the best."
The former UND goaltender made it.
Campbell is in Beijing hoping to bring home Olympic gold with Team Canada, which won Pool A with a 4-2 victory over the United States on Tuesday morning.
The Brandon, Man., native has served as a backup to star Ann-Renee Desbiens and Emerance Maschmeyer.
"Obviously, Canada has good goalies, but man, Kristen has worked for it," Fabian said. "She's one of the most driven people you'll ever meet. I'm so happy for her and her family. She's sacrificed a lot to get here, and she's gotten here."
Campbell spent two years at UND — one as a redshirt and one as part of a goalie tandem with senior Lexie Shaw.
Campbell was on track to become the primary starter in 2017-18, but then-UND President Mark Kennedy cut the program in March 2017, just days after the end of Campbell's second college season.
Campbell was the last player to remain in Grand Forks after the program was cut, spending the spring and summer working out with Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
The Lamoureux twins went on to win Olympic gold the following season with team USA. Campbell transferred to Wisconsin.
"She took it the hardest," Fabian said of the program getting cut. "I didn't know how it was going to go for her. I was nervous for her. She went somewhere, she found herself and she performed as well as I thought she was going to."
Campbell instantly took over the No. 1 goalie job in Wisconsin, where she led the Badgers to the NCAA Frozen Four in her first season.
The following year, Campbell was named Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Frozen Four, leading the Badgers to the NCAA national championship. Campbell didn't allow a single goal during the entire NCAA tournament.
Her senior season ended abruptly due to the COVID-19 pandemic just before the NCAA tournament was set to begin.
Campbell's college career ended with a 91-16-7 record, a 1.34 goals-against average, a .929 save percentage and 28 shutouts.
"I knew that was the goalie we recruited," Fabian said. "I knew that was the player she was."
Campbell worked her way into the Canadian National Team, too. She was part of Canada's 2021 World Championship gold-medal winning team. Now, she's the first UND player to earn a spot on the Canadian Olympic team.
"She deserves it," Fabian said. "She's deserved it ever since she was trying to make U18 teams. She's made herself ready for it.
"She's fulfilled a dream."