Dakota Becco, who will be a senior in the fall at Prospect High School, has won four hockey state championships at three levels: AA, back-to-back AAA, and girls high school varsity. She also in 2021 won a USA Hockey regional tournament, thus advancing to the USA Hockey Girls AAA National Championship.
Becco, 17, who lives in Mount Prospect, played this past season for the Barrington Fillies who won state, and also for the co-op PREP Hockey JV Team while the PREP varsity also won state. She mostly plays center, though she started her ice career as a defenseman.
“I was hesitant to join (Barrington) because of my commitments with PREP, my part-time job, my jewelry-making business, AP courses in school and so many activities, including our award-winning marching band, Prospect Marching Knights,” Becco said. “But I pulled it off and cannot be happier in my decision.
“It was a different atmosphere being on the Fillies, a team with many double-rostered (players), even occasionally playing (against teammates) on different (AAA) teams on the same day. Ultimately, the amazing talent and contributions from all my teammates resulted in a winning season, especially when it mattered at the state championship (game) at the United Center. Winning state was the goal, but I think the steppingstones to get there, from the killer snapshot Ella Pukala has on net; to having a goalie (Riley Sherrin) skate out is evidence of the true dedication these girls have to experience cold steel on ice. It’s a team sport and I appreciate every moment my teammates put into the game.”
Becco added, “The whole day (at the United Center) was so cool. I enjoyed the privilege of being in the ‘restricted areas’ and exploring the underground of the United Center. The Chicago Blackhawks and the United Center personnel made the entire day unforgettable. I couldn’t have been happier when the final buzzer sounded, and we all knew we had just won the state championship. After the game I was able to watch the PREP varsity win the combined division state championship and was interviewed live.”
Also this spring, Becco skated for the Illinois team in the annual America’s Showcase St. Louis.
Becco admitted, she wasn’t certain she even wanted to play this past season.
But playing for PREP her ambitions and constant hunger for the sport flourished.
“Under head coach Tony Gattuso and assistant coach Jimmy Panos, I was able to increase my determination mentally and physically,” she said. “It had been a while since a girl played in the PREP organization. Despite that, the coaches, teammates and families were amazing supporters. We finished second in our league, and that accomplishment shows the grit of our team despite having late games on the weekend, or games in the middle of the week during busy school days, among other school activities.”
Becco formerly played for the Glenview Grizzlies, Glenview Stars, Northshore Warhawks, Chicago Young Americans and Team Illinois. She was alternate captain on the Glenview Stars.
“I am an aggressive, gritty, yet agile player, with an eye out for the team and a need for speed,” she said. “I prioritize my teammates over myself, which allows me to be the start of a game-changing play. Whether that’s winning a face off, or making a stretch pass out of the neutral zone, I usually later find myself celebrating in front of the opposing net with my teammates after a goal.”
She also has tallied goals herself, such as at USA Hockey Nationals. “I had a goal directly off the face-off. I thought that was the coolest thing because it shot off my off hand and still ended up in the back of the net. Racking up points at Nationals is a rewarding experience,” she said.
Just as rewarding: her off-ice accomplishments.
Becco was a Student Team Member Visionary of the Year for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Each team had eight weeks to raise as much money as possible, competing against other teams, and her team had about 20 people.
“Everyone contributed,” she said. “The main thing was, outreach emails and letters explaining what the charity was about and what the money was being used for. Each team member was required to do at least one fundraising event, silent auction, or corporate sponsorship.”
The funds raised are used for patient and family care, cancer research and development, and educational resources and programs for student patients.
“A good portion of my donations came from parent’s connections, family and friends. A significant amount of the money I raised came through dine and share programs at restaurants like Panda Express and Panera Bread,” she said.
Becco’s team, Fighting for Families, reached the highest goal in the Chicagoland campaign: $172,000.
“The amount of people who put in so much effort to making themselves available for support to complete strangers inspires me to keep going,” she said. “Although cancer takes the lives of many, some people in our campaign barely even knew family or friends who fought or succumbed to the disease. It is rewarding knowing that the hard work and donations will go to something that may help a child have the necessary resources to fight cancer.
“I know a lot of people say volunteering and charity work is a thankless job. To that, I couldn’t disagree more. I received so many thank-you’s from family and friends who donated, as well as many thank-you’s from the campaign leaders, and most importantly, the children and adults who fought and are currently fighting cancer. It’s not easy knowing that along the campaign some died, and some went into hospice, but it keeps so many people going. What’s the harm in asking businesses for a dine and share, while some people out there are fighting for their lives?!
“That’s my drive, and it’s so meaningful; there is still research and development needed for effective treatments and a cure.”
Becco plans to study advanced practice nursing in college and hopefully minor in music as she’s a percussionist. She also wants to continue on-ice. “It doesn’t matter if it’s Division I or Division III, as long as I can take away key aspects from the sport and apply (them) to situations in the future,” she said.
Slapshots With … Barrington Fillies Center Dakota Becco
First-Ever Game: “It was quite funny. I was playing on the Glenview studio rink; I fell and immediately threw up. It didn’t faze the coach; he just wanted to know if I still wanted to play. At that point, I knew this was the sport for me.”
Influences: “My parents … to get up in the morning for an early Sunday championship, to comfort me in a devastating end of the season loss, the amount of time my parents have put into this sport to develop me to my highest abilities never ceases to amaze me. To my mother, who drove and flew with me to countless AAA tournaments in the Midwest and East Coast. Her excitement shines every time I score a goal. Yes, I look to my mother first after I score. I couldn’t have a better cheerleader in the stands! To my father, who has driven me to countless practices, who has watched every game online that he has not (attended) in person, and who has continued to be my biggest advocate for self-reflection after every game; I cannot thank you enough. He couldn’t be a bigger influence. His love for the sport boosted mine to an infinite amount. So, thank you, parents! I also want to thank my friends, family, and supporters, who have been influences through making me feel like a superstar.”
Best Advice I Can Give: “Take away at least one good thing from every team, player, or coach you interact with. If you see an outstanding play, understand why the play was significant and implement the positives into your game play. Applying good habits into your everyday life will be key to your success.”
Favorite NHL Team: Chicago Blackhawks
Favorite NHL Player: Bobby Hull
Favorite Sports-themed Movie: The Cutting Edge
Favorite Pre-game Meal: A granola bar
Celebrity You’d Like To Meet: Patrick Sharp
Best High School Uniform (other than Barrington): Chicago North Hockey Club