Sister Act: Gazdik twins tear up the ice

For the Gazdik twins, their love for the sport of hockey can be traced back to when they would get up early to go skate with their father while carrying around a bag of cheetos at the age of four. 

JuliAnna and Jenessa Gazdik are freshmen on the Minnesota State women’s hockey team. 

The pair from Somerset, Wisconsin helped Gentry Academy win 4A and 4AA section championships in 2021 and 2022. Their team also placed second and fourth in state tournaments during those respective years. 

One of the biggest differences they have noticed between high school  and college  hockey is the speed and strength of their opponents. 

“Being in the WCHA, we get the best game every night from every team. Like high school I thought some games it’d be super hard, and others it’d be like 10-1 games. What’s more fun? Those close games,” JuliAnna said. 

During their time at Gentry Academy, Jenessa was a three-year captain and JuliAnna was a captain for two years. Characteristics such as their extreme competitiveness and having grit and determination, they say, helped them lead. 

“Being around some of those same girls at Gentry helped us to fulfill those roles and really excel all over the board,” Jenessa said. 

They were thrown into the deep end right away as their first league game was against the 2022-23 National Champions, the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

The veteran players on the team helped ease the transition for the Gazdik twins. 

“It was a really welcoming environment. I felt like there wasn’t really much doubt instilled in yourself, and if there was, it wasn’t there for long,” JuliAnna said. 

Just like any other siblings, they say they bicker from time to time. But the disagreements don’t last. 

Their relationship is centered around complementing each other and making the other better. 

Some people even say that they have twin telepathy. 

“We’ve played together for so long and I know what she’s going to do with the puck and most of the time she knows what I’m going to do with the puck,” Jenessa said. 

A pre-game  for Minnesota State’s freshmen is to sit on the bench together and visualize the game before the team heads out for warmups.  

One thing JuliAnna does that is very different from her sister is braid her hair before a game. 

“I can’t wear a braid in my hair because I broke my wrist the one game I did that. I’m never doing that again,” Jenessa said. 

The Gazdik twins’ impact at Minnesota State isn’t limited to the ice. In January, they signed one of the first big NIL (name, image and likeness) deals at MSU by partnering with Nautical Bowls. 

Greg Glynn, founder and CEO of Pliable Marketing, helped the twins secure the deal. 

While Glynn is their marketing agent, he wasn’t the only one to have his hand in the pot while this partnership between the Gazdik twins and Nautical Bowls was being cooked up. 

Former teammate at Gentry Academy Cara Sajevic, who attends the University of St. Thomas, is a Pliable Athlete and a brand ambassador for Nautical Bowls in DinkyTown in Minneapolis. This allowed Glynn to strike up a relationship with the owner at the Nautical Bowls. 

“So then I said to her, I’ve got two other athletes, they’re down in Mankato. Are there any people you know down in Mankato that would be interested in partnering with two more athletes?” Glynn said. 

Once Glynn was able to get in contact with the owner at Nautical Bowls in Mankato, Devin Pokorney, things were off and running. 

Promoting a product that they love is something that was appealing to JuliAnna and Jenessa. 

“Growing up we always used to go there. There’s one close to Gentry. Being an athlete, that’s a good way to fuel your body. So I knew that was a really good decision, and something that we could help promote knowing that we eat,” JuliAnna said. 

This deal further pushes the mission that Glynn has for his company that he talked about with the twins at the beginning of their partnership called mission E50. 

Mission E50 is an initiative by the company to increase the popularity of women’s sports. 

“If you look up hashtag mission E50, you will see the amount of female athletes that I work with, and some of the stories. Whether they’re media stories, posts about NIL opportunities or brands they’re working with. That is a very small screenshot on what is going to happen on a national level,” Glynn said. 

Header Photo: Minnesota State women’s hockey players JuliAnna and Jenessa Gazdik signed NIL (name, image and likeness) deals with Nautical Bowls in January. (Courtesy Pliable Marketing)

Write to Mohamed Warsame at mohamed.warsame@mnsu.edu

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.