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March 30, 2023

See How She Got Started: OUA & Nipissing University Ice Hockey Player Emma Thomas


See How She Got Started in the OUA

Anchored in the efforts to spotlight Ontario University Athletics (OUA) student-athletes, the initiative See How She Got Started showcases and tells the story of how some of the conference’s talented student-athletes first got involved in sport and have made their way to the varsity stage on which they currently shine.  It is also hoped that their stories can inspire young athletes to aspire to compete in varsity-level sports.



Meet OUA Student-Athlete Emma Thomas

University - 

Nipissing University


Sport -

Ice Hockey


Year of Eligibility -

2nd Year


Hometown - 

Winnetka, Illinois, United States of America 


Program of Study - 



How did you first get involved in your sport?

I used to live behind a hockey rink and so I would go and watch the players skate.  I always knew that I wanted to play hockey.


What most interested you about your sport that made you want to pursue it at a high level?

I have worked with a lot of different skills coaches over the years. They all have helped me understand that there are lots of different aspects in hockey that you can constantly improve upon. Working with them helped to have the drive to continue developing my skills for as long as I could. Fortunately, I do think putting all this hard at improving my game has been an important part of why I earned the opportunity to play university hockey.


Was there a specific moment/experience that led you to believe you could compete in your sport at a high level, and if so, what was it?

I think one specific moment that made believe I could play at a high level would be when I was selected for the USA U16/17 National Development Camp. At the end of this camp, I finished with the most points earned overall.  It was an amazing accomplishment given I was only 15 year old.   


What is your fondest memory/experience of being involved in your sport thus far?

My fondest memory would definitely be the day I lifted my first puck in practice. I had gone to shoot the puck and somehow it lifted in the air. My coach came over to me and said where did that come from, and I told him that I had it in me all along.   


Is there someone who inspires you to continue to pursue your sport at this high level (i.e., coach, professional athlete, family member, etc.) and what makes them an inspiration to you?

My dad inspires me to continue to pursue my sport. I always remember how many days off of work he took to get me to tournaments and how many early mornings we had for my private skates. He has helped me get to where I am today. It makes me motivated to want to be the best player not just for not only myself, but for him as well.



What excites you most about continuing your athletic journey at the varsity level within the OUA?

I think the competition level available in the OUA excites me the most. Each year there are new athletes in the league and teams continue to get better and better every year. This continued improvement makes the competition all that much better. 


If someone else was looking to start playing your sport, what one piece of advice would you give them to get them started?

I would say to have fun with it and don’t take it as seriously while you're young. I think that enjoying the game is what pushes athletes to show up and try their best. So make it an enjoyable environment.  


What is one critical thing that you do to try to continue to experience improvement within your sport (i.e., specific drill/exercise, training regimen, routine, etc.)?

I constantly am on the ice when I am in my hometown and I think that really helps. At Nipissing University, we have a serious off season training routine and that helps too. But I think that being on the ice helps me the most with development as a player and with respect to my hockey skills.  


What would you say to your 10-year-old self about playing and staying in sport?

I would tell my 10-year-old self to not give up. If you're having fun, stick with it because it could be the best decision of your life.    


Is there one strategy that you find works well for you in creating a positive student/athlete balance in your life?

I would definitely tell someone to focus on time management. It's crucial to use the resources your teachers provide and leverage the academic support that your school provides you as a student-athlete. 



Head to the SWSCD Athlete Advisor, your online athletic business directory. Find, rate and review programs, local community offerings and businesses that will help you do your thing.  

Start a group around a physical activity in your neighbourhood. Explore events. Check out our SWSCD Hub.

Look for advice, stories, news and more on our Ice Hockey activity page.  

Have a sport, recreation or physical activity accomplishment you'd like to celebrate and shout out through SWSCD?  Become a SWSCD member and share your story directly on SeeWhatSheCanDo. Or, simply add the hashtag #seewhatshecando to your public social media posts and SWSCD can help you inspire others around you.


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