Off-Ice News, Women's Hockey

Lilli and Luisa Welcke: The inseparable bond coming to Comm. Ave this season

Lilli and Luisa Welcke playing hockey as kids. Courtesy of Lilli and Luisa Welcke.

Lilli and Luisa Welcke are sisters first and hockey players second. 

The set of identical twin forwards share a special bond — having always played on the same team together — and will carry it onto the Boston University women’s hockey team this fall.

After spending one season with the University of Maine, the second-year twins made the transfer to Comm. Ave.

“They have great experience at the college level, at the international level; they bring all of those experiences to the locker room,” BU head coach Tara Watchorn said. “We’re really excited to see what they’re going to bring.”

Hailing from Heidelberg, Germany, the sisters have done it all. The Welckes have played for the German women’s professional league, the German national team and now the NCAA.

But surprisingly, hockey was not always the plan. With nobody in their family before them playing the game, they fell into the sport by accident. 

“Growing up, we didn’t think we would get this far in hockey,” Luisa said. “We just picked it up and didn’t really know that it even existed before.”

During their childhood, the two enjoyed playing tennis with their older sister, Lea. In the summer of 2010, the sisters hoped to sign up for tennis camp, but after waiting too long, the trio tried out a hockey camp instead. 

Soaking up quality time with each other, it was at this moment that they realized hockey had promise. 

“We had just started playing with our sister, and it was fun to play a new sport all together,” Luisa said. “Then, we just stuck with it.”  

Over the next eight years, the Welckes never had the opportunity to play with other girls. With Germany not offering any female youth hockey programs, the twins had no other option than to play with the boys. 

While the situation all female German players experience is unique, the circumstances only helped the Welckes find a new level in their game. 

“I think it really pushed us,” Lilli said. “Physically, at some point, [boys] have an advantage, and we still played with them.” 

It was not until the 2018-19 season when the sisters came to the United States that they first participated in an all-girls team. The pair left their home country to attend the Kent School — a boarding school in western Connecticut. 

Apart from their new teammates, their environment away from the ice took some adapting to. The Welckes had never been to the U.S. before, and English was not their first language. 

Photo courtesy of Lilli and Luisa Welcke.

“There’s definitely a culture shock,” Luisa said. “They had a really good hockey program, so I don’t think we had any problem adapting to it, but it was still a big change for us.” 

Although not an easy one, the transition was necessary for the sisters’ long-term goal of playing in the NCAA. 

The highest level of play for female German players is the DFEL before playing for the German national team — two feats the Welckes had completed as teenagers. The twins came to the States because they were simply seeking more. 

The Welckes initially committed to Ohio State University, but amid the COVID-19 pandemic, things got complicated. 

“It was chaotic, our recruiting process,” Lilli said. “At some point, we didn’t really have much choice anymore.”

From there, the sisters decided on Maine but notably were unable to physically visit the campus before committing — one reason for their eventual departure. 

Regardless of the situation, the Welckes put up impressive numbers during their time as Black Bears. 

Both sisters were named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team and ranked top three on their team in scoring. Combining for four of Maine’s game-winning goals, Luisa posted 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists), and Lilli recorded 21 points (six goals, 15 assists).  

Fitting enough, the twins had arguably their best performance when the Terriers hosted the Black Bears for a weekend series last December. 

The sisters combined for five points and had both game-winners in back-to-back nights. 

“Those games were some of our best games of the season,” Luisa said. “The atmosphere was just really good, and we were really hyped.”

In spite of their on-ice success, the Welckes did not feel Maine was the right fit for them. Once the offseason rolled around, they entered the transfer portal. 

The Black Bears had a lot of movement this offseason with ten eligible players not returning. However, the Welckes admit this did not affect their decision. 

“We wanted to try something else,” Lilli said. “It’s always been our dream to go to BU, so it was a no-brainer once we had the option to come here.”

When looking at their options, the sisters had no interest in splitting a part. 

“In high school, we made the decision to stick together, so at that point our decision was already made — that we’re going to stay together through college,” Lilli said. 

This season, the Welckes will have the chance to etch their names in BU hockey history as the women’s program enters a new chapter. 

The Welckes’ unteachable chemistry will make them a force in BU’s lineup. Playing on the same line together, the twins will be satisfied when either one of them scores. 

“Some flaws that Luisa has I can compliment and the other way around,” Lilli said. “As long as our line does well, we’re both happy.”

Photo courtesy of Lilli and Luisa Welcke.

Along with the program’s systematic changes, the sport as a whole welcomes overdue change at the college hockey level and beyond. 

This season’s annual women’s Beanpot tournament will host the consolation and championship game at TD Garden. The Welckes never thought they would have the chance to play in the Boston tournament, but with the additional news, they are more excited than ever. 

“It means a lot, especially for women’s hockey,” Lilli said. “You see it on TV — NHL teams playing there — now being able to play there yourself is amazing.” 

The news came just ahead of the announcement of the formation of the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) set to debut in 2024. 

The Welckes are still unsure where they will end up after BU, but they could see themselves playing in the new league in the future. 

“We don’t really know what we want to do afterwards, but the PWHL is definitely growing, and it’s amazing to see the opportunities that women get now,” Lusia said. 

“With the PWHL, maybe in two years when we’re out of college it’s even better, so we’ll see,” Lilli said. 

But before they get too ahead of themselves, the Welckes are focusing on the upcoming season.

The pair already feels comfortable on BU’s campus and are looking forward to getting started. The Terriers open their home schedule against Northeastern University at Walter Brown Arena on Oct. 6. 

Hopefully, the sisters can replicate their showing from the last time they stepped on this ice. 

“We both really like the atmosphere in Wally B, so we’re glad we’re on the BU team now,” Lilli said. “I think we have a really good group here, and we’ll do very well in Hockey East.”

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