Published October 29, 2019
For a goaltender, it’s all about the angles. A goalie must keep every corner of the net covered, know where the puck is at all times, and always make the cage seem smaller.
While balancing two full-time careers—as an architectural designer and professional hockey player—Kimberly Sass has seemingly covered enough ground to reach all her goals. Still, never content to sit on the sidelines, Sass is poised to take on yet another role—as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) IF/THEN ambassador—in which she will mentor the next generation of women trailblazers.
Sass has been on the ice for most of her life. After an unsteady start as a figure skater, the East Amherst, N.Y.-native switched to ice hockey and immediately felt at home. As an undergraduate at Colgate University, Sass studied fine art and geography while spending most of her time outside the classroom in the rink. Through her art studies, Sass discovered architecture and returned home to complete her master’s degree.
After graduating from UB, Sass relocated to Jersey City, New Jersey, and landed a position as job captain for New York City-based HLW, one of the oldest design firms in the United States.
Around the same time, Sass earned a spot in the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) as a goalie for New Jersey’s Metropolitan Riveters, helping the team to win its first cup championship.
Despite her success with the Riveters, Sass experienced the pay gap firsthand and was determined to take a stand. Earlier this year Sass joined more than 200 fellow athletes who left the NWHL to form the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association (PWHPA), a global organization dedicated to creating a single league for women players that ensures fair and equitable pay and benefits.
She now sits on the PWHPA’s board and serves as a player representative for the tri-state region. On the league’s Dream Gap Tour, Sass both competes and helps run youth clinics and community events that raise awareness of opportunities for girls in professional hockey.
At HLW, Sass works both in the office and on-site to ensure each project is built according to design specs and meets clients’ needs. She’s currently working on a complex, multi-floor renovation project for a high-profile financial service based in Jersey City.
For Sass, the two roles work well together. “I think sports and architecture have a lot of similarities: attention to detail, teamwork, spatial awareness, and knowing when to lead and when to take a back seat and let someone else step up to the plate,” Sass says.
It is this grit and aspirational spirit, well encapsulated by her name-play catchphrase “Stay sassy,” that grabbed the attention of the AAAS IF/THEN initiative.
Sass is one of just 125 professionals from around the country selected to promote young women in STEM fields as ambassadors through social media and television.
Earlier this month, Sass appeared on the CBS Saturday morning program “Mission Unstoppable,” which profiles innovative women in the STEM field, to tell the story of her dual-career path.
“I never really felt like there was anything that I couldn’t pursue or try based on my gender,” Sass explains. “That’s what I’m trying to achieve for the younger generation, so they can see more women architects or hockey players in the media.”