skip navigation

Following A Family Tradition, Goalie Cecilia Wielenberg Also Plays The Violin

By Ross Forman, 05/22/24, 2:00PM CDT


When not stopping slapshots for Team Illinois or co-op Naper Valley High School, Cecilia Wielenberg is a bit more laid back, simply delivering soothing violin sounds.

Wielenberg, 15, a Downers Grove resident and freshman at Downers Grove North High School, plays violin in her school’s orchestra, following the musical path set by her mom and great-grandmother who also played the instrument – and she plays on her great-grandmother’s violin.

“Violin helps me on the ice because it teaches me discipline and attention to detail,” said Wielenberg, who formerly skated for the Naperville Sabres and has earned many hockey honors, including All-State accolades this past season.

She will play in the fall for Team Illinois and the co-op DuPage Grizzles high school club.

“Hockey helps me with violin because it teaches me how to focus on multiple things at once. For example, in hockey, I must focus on the puck and the backdoor pass, while in orchestra I must focus both on the director and the sheet music in front of me.”

Her hockey career includes skating in the USA Hockey Nationals in 2023 for Team Illinois, with her butterfly approach and athletic style of play.

“Jason Walbert was my coach at (the) Sabres and has always been one of my biggest cheerleaders. He introduced me to the prospect of playing AAA hockey,” Wielenberg said. “Larry Pedrie gave me my first opportunity to play for Team Illinois and has supported me ever since. Sanya Sandahl has inspired me to continue to learn and adapt my playing style, to never get complacent, and to always strive for the next level.”

Sandahl, the U16 head coach and girl’s director for Team Illinois, said Wielenberg is “an elite goaltender with an extremely high compete level.” Sandahl – who has been coaching for 20 years, the last 10 at the AAA level in Illinois – added: “As an assistant captain for our U14 team, she led by example and with the passion she has for the game.

“Ceci is a well-rounded student-athlete balancing club hockey, high school hockey and extra-curricular activities at school, all while maintaining strong academics.”

Wielenberg enjoys playing the violin, especially the time it gives her with friends and knowing that it makes her parents and grandparents proud.

Wielenberg is a member of Tri-M at school, a national honors society for fine arts, “where we are required to do volunteer work and prepare performances for the rest of the members,” she said.

“I’ve only talked with one of my teammates about orchestra because she played bass, and I’ve had one teammate that used to play the saxophone in her school’s band when she was younger.”

Wielenberg is a member of Downers Grove North’s PE Leadership Program, which includes two semesters of leadership classes. “Once I have completed the two semesters, I will assist in leading/teaching the freshman gym classes,” she said. “I applied and was accepted this year, and next school year I will complete my first required semester.”

In addition, Wielenberg is a counselor-in-training for a girl scout’s summer camp program, and she volunteers at a local library.

“There have been a few instances in which I’ve had to miss hockey practices due to an orchestra rehearsal or concert and vice versa,” she said. “I used to have private lessons in violin, but I had to stop attending because I just didn’t have time due to my hockey schedule.

“PE leadership will help me be a leader to my peers in both orchestra and my hockey teams.”

Wielenberg dreams of playing Division I hockey in college and wants to major in biomedical engineering.

Slapshots With … Cecilia Wielenberg
Favorite NHL Team:
Chicago Blackhawks
Favorite NHL Player: Jeremy Swayman
Favorite Sports-themed Movie: The Mighty Ducks
Favorite TV Show: The Office
Favorite Pre-game Meal: A Fiber One granola bar and a Body Armor
Favorite app: Instagram
Celebrity You’d Like To Meet: Steve Carell
Best Hockey Tip: “Just have fun and don’t think about it too hard.” – Her dad
Best High School Uniform (other than Naper Valley or the Grizzlies): Barrington Fillies