“It’s a big blow”: the National Women’s Hockey League prepares to step into the spotlight

What started as a group of graduate students in film, public relations and physics has now become four Penn Staters sharing their passion for music. Thanks to their group, the National Women’s Hockey League, the future is bright.

Since the band’s inception in the winter of 2019, Kristen Nodell, James Russin, Liam Nee, and Julie Larson have made music and established their musical careers in rather unconventional ways.

“I knew Julie from the Comedy Club,” said Nodell, the band’s lead singer. “We were writing sketches and silly songs for these shows. Then I met James and Liam at film school.

While some of the members already knew each other, Nodell was the first to come up with a concrete idea for the group when she explained how she wanted to start a group in Penn State KLIO Magazine. Percussionist James Russin was the first to respond, gracefully slipping into his DMs. And, as Nodell likes to say, the rest was history.

But just as the new members were getting the group off the ground in early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic quickly derailed their plans. That hasn’t stopped them from making the most of their opportunities in quarantine.

Together, the band wrote, performed and produced their music remotely, while working together across the country to complete their first four songs. The National Women’s Hockey League also intended to tour or play in smaller venues in the northeast, but the pandemic had other plans. So they played a virtual version of the Penn State Student Programming Association’s NoonTime program a few times in front of a Penn State audience.

In 2022, the group returns to performance and expands its identity. The band’s second EP is also set to be released in the coming months.

After winning Movin’ On’s Battle of the Bandsthe National Women’s Hockey League is set to open the Penn State Year-End Music Festival on Friday, April 29. The group is thrilled to return to Happy Valley after a tough few years in the entertainment industry.

“I’m so excited to share the stage,” Nodell said. “I grew up at State College, so I’m sure I’ll see a lot of familiar faces. It means so much to be surrounded by support.

Russin also spoke on behalf of the rest of the band and their excitement for this new venture in the band’s musical career.

“It’s important for the band’s resume,” he said.

The National Women’s Hockey League is certainly planning to have a big stage presence when they start their set on Friday. On top of that, being one of Jack Harlow’s first acts is definitely a boost in the experience section of their story.

Although playing with the National Women’s Hockey League is currently a hobby for all four members, they would love the chance to make it their full-time job one day. The camaraderie and humor inspire each person to maintain their witty and entertaining spirit every time they take the stage.

“I really like being silly and goofy as a band,” Nodell said. “It’s fun to watch us if we’re having fun. Have fun.”

Besides music, the four members have found a family in each other through their dedication, hard work and, of course, their shared love for their mothers.


“We didn’t know what was going to happen,” said bassist Julie Larson. “If you’re nervous about something, or not sure if you’re good enough, give it a try, and something really cool might come out of it.”

And as the most recent National Women’s Hockey League EP would say, “We are young, we are hot, [and] We are best friends.

If you want to know more about the band, be sure to follow the band on instagram and click on the Spotify link here to listen to their catalog.

Mara is a freshman writer specializing in English and public relations. She loves all things sports and anything with peanut butter in it. You can usually find her obsessed with country music and wondering when Luke Combs will return to BJC. Also, go birds. Feel free to reach out to her on Twitter @MckeonMara and for more formal matters her email is [email protected]

Corina C. Butler