Senior Jasmine Giles has been consistently improving since her freshman season.[/media-credit]

People who have been around sports long enough will say actions speak louder than words. For Wisconsin captain Jasmine Giles, however, the two go together.

Giles, a senior from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada has been the physical and vocal presence for a Wisconsin women’s hockey team in need of leadership. With only three other seniors in the lineup, Giles has been key to keeping Wisconsin above water this season.

This hasn’t been the only year in which Giles has been an important part of the team. Since her days as a freshman, when she tallied eight goals, Giles has improved her play significantly. As a sophomore, she had 23 points and nearly doubled that total last season. According to Giles, her leadership abilities have improved as well.

“Every day is a learning process — you learn to deal with things differently,” Giles said. “Every day I learn something new about being a captain.”

For somebody who was never a team captain growing up, Giles is doing quite an extraordinary job. Since she arrived in Madison, Giles has played in all 133 games for Wisconsin.

“You have to take care of your body because we work out so much; it’s so easy to get an injury,” Giles said. “I work out hard in the summer, which keeps me strong.”

The streak is even more impressive considering the type of player she is. Although Giles is a forward, she often plays defense on power plays and tied Hilary Knight for the team lead in blocked shots last season. The versatility Giles displays each game still impresses the coaching staff.

“She understands that she needs to lead by example and she’s done a great job of that,” head coach Tracey DeKeyser said. “I give her credit for being a tough physical presence but also doing the little things right as well.”

One of the main duties as a captain is to make sure the team shows up on time, motivated, and working to their full potential. Giles hasn’t disappointed in that regard.

“Once you been here for so long you know not to take this last year for granted,” Giles said. “Sometimes the last place you want to be is out on the ice but those are the days you get better.”

This year, the work has paid off at crucial moments. Against a Minnesota team that had not trailed the entire season, Giles scored the game-tying goal which put a spark in the Wisconsin offense. After goals from three other Badgers, Wisconsin dominated the Gophers in that game.

“She reminds me a little bit of [Erika] Lawler in that she’s hard working and a gritty player,” DeKeyser said. “She’s the kind of player we needed to bring some fire and energy to the group.”

DeKeyser, who is from the same town as Giles, recruited her with the intention of bringing in a player with a lot of passion. According to senior Kyla Sanders, that zeal is especially noticeable between periods.

“She’s a really good leader,” Sanders said. “She’s very vocal and expresses herself.”

With such a disappointing start to the season, Wisconsin has needed players to step up and motivate the team. The Badgers went 34-2-5 last year, but have skated to a 6-4-0 start the new campaign. Nevertheless, Giles believes the team appears ready to break out of the slump. Her strong play recently should help back up her statements.

“I’ve been impressed with our team and how we’ve improved every week,” Giles said. “That’s the most rewarding thing to see.”

One of the main reasons the captain has kept a positive attitude is because she has seen the benefits of hard work. During her freshman year, the Badgers posted a 36-1-4 record in their title run, and last year the team won its last nine games en route to a national championship. Although the freshmen are hungry for their first title, Giles said that winning one title makes you hungry for more.

“It never gets old, I’ve done it twice and it was just as good the second time,” Giles said. “It’s one of those things you could do a hundred times and you won’t get sick of it.”

If Giles keeps the team as determined as she is, maybe her teammates will share that championship experience as well.