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.
Year of Eligibility -
Kirkland Lake, Ontario
Program of Study -
How did you first get involved in your sport?
I grew up in a very small town where everyone was involved in hockey somehow. It meant going to support and watch games or playing. I was one of the very few girls who decided to play boys hockey. We didn’t have any girls teams to play on. So, if you wanted to play, you had to play with the boys. Hockey quickly became where I felt at home and had the most fun.
What most interested you about your sport that made you want to pursue it at a high level?
While I played with boys growing up and enjoyed some success doing it, I did want to see what I could do in an all girls league. I continued to develop my game while playing with girls and quickly started to hone my skills and improve with each practice and game played. I had the opportunity to move away from home at the age of fifteen to further my opportunities for success in hockey at a higher level of play.
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?
For me, it was my first year away from home. I had a great year playing in Markham with my team and I knew I wanted to compete at a higher level when I felt I was ready. The next year ,I moved from Midget (U18) AA to Intermediate AA (Junior). In my first year of playing junior level hockey, I committed to Ryerson University to play at the OUA level of the game.
What is your fondest memory/experience of being involved in your sport thus far?
I have had so many great years at Ryerson University and now Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU). I’ve experienced both injuries and success while playing, but hockey continues to be my safe place through it all.
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 family has always been my biggest support system. I have also had the chance to meet so many amazing people - many of whom have became good friends along the way. I want to continue to show them what I can do because of the support they have given me and to make them proud.
What excites you most about continuing your athletic journey at the varsity level within the OUA?
I absolutely love playing in the OUA. I personally think it's a very underrated level of play because it doesn’t not have American College Division 1 status similar to the teams that are in the United States. There are so many talented women who play in the OUA Conference and it continues to be the best hockey I’ve had the chance to play.
What is/are some of the more unique aspect(s) of your sport that others may not know about?
I don’t think people realize just how much work we student-athletes put into succeeding in our sports. We are at the rink 5-7 hours a day, on top of school work and attending classes. We are very driven and persistent individuals who are passionate about our sport. We dedicate most of our time each and every day in order to be the best student-athletes we can be.
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 tell them to push through the pain and never give into injuries or self-doubt. It can be challenging at times. But if you are persistent, believe in yourself, and work hard, then you'll get results you want. All of your hard work and sacrifice will pay off in the end.
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 am a big stickler for my routine. If I break from my weekly routine, I find myself getting stressed and anxious. It's important for me to keep a steady and consistent routine in order to feel my best and perform to the best of my abilities.
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 let hateful comments and jealous people get the best of you. You are a girl trying to succeed on what has previously been known as a “man’s sport”. The reason they are making hurtful comments is because they see your potential and the success you can have if you keep improving. I would also tell that her that you are talented and not to underestimate yourself.
Is there one strategy that you find works well for you in creating a positive student/athlete balance in your life?
As I've mentioned earlier, I really prefer to follow a regular routine. As a student-athlete, it can be extremely challenging to have a healthy balance of both student and athlete life if you don’t focus equally on both. Try hard to put an equal amount of effort into both your studies and your training. The goal is to have success in both aspects equally.
I also think it's important to have good friends and family around to give you a healthy support system. It can get stressful at times and sometimes you'll need people around you to lean on when times get tough.
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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.
Blog by Caroline Wiley. Caroline bridged her 20+ years of professional experience in the sport and recreation industry together with her passions for photography and supporting women in sport to create SeeWhatSheCanDo. Her vision is to create a welcoming space where active women find a sense of belonging within their own local community, see themselves in authentic and awe-inspiring ways and find resources to help them be their best active selves.
Photos courtesy of Ontario University Athletics and SeeWhatSheCanDo unless otherwise indicated.
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