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March 30, 2023

See How She Got Started: OUA & Toronto Metropolitan University Ice Hockey Player Tori Butler


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 Tori Butler

University - 

Toronto Metropolitan University


Sport -

Ice Hockey


Year of Eligibility -

5th Year


Hometown - 

North Saanich, British Columbia 


Program of Study - 

Biomedical Engineering



How did you first get involved in your sport?

Growing up I was a very active kid.  I was involved in dance at the age of 3 and then hockey and figure skating at 4 years old. I am the second child in my family, so I have my older brother to thank for getting me involved in hockey. I was always at the rink watching him and I couldn't wait to get out there myself. My parents put me in figure skating - which at the time I called Ballet Hockey - as well as Tim Bits Hockey so that I could get some skating fundamentals. I did find switching back and forth from figure skates to hockey skates was very tough to do. I often would forgot about the toe picks and then would end up face-planting every time I stepped on the ice.  


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

Coming from Victoria, British Columbia is amazing but also tough. It's tough because it can be difficult to take your sport to the next level. Especially for girls - you often have to leave the Island to play sport at a higher level. Heading into Grade 10,  I had to choose between hockey and dance to take to the next level. I always found that when I headed to the rink, I was so excited and couldn't wait to practice or play games. But when I headed to dance,  I found myself dreading going while on the way to the studio.  But, once I was arrived at the studio, I had tons of fun dancing too. I guess for me, the primary reason I picked hockey over dance was more because the opportunities I experienced as hockey player were incredible. Playing hockey as enabled me to have friends all over the country and to be able to live and travel to many cool places.  


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?

There wasn't a specific moment or experience that led me to believe that I could compete in my sport. Although I have always had the opportuity to play on the top teams growing up, I do work very hard on and off the ice. I do think my motivation and dedication to the sport has allowed me to get where I am today.   


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

Some of my fondest memories in hockey include winning the CSHL Championships in 2016 at OHA.  It includes the road trips and overnight stays in hotels as well as travelling to different cities across Canada and the United States.  

Another fond memory I have actually doesn't involve me as a player but as a spectator instead. In 2010, I had the opportunity to attend the Vancouver Winter Olympics. I was able to watch lots of amazing events including the ice hockey games. And, to have the chance to watch both the Canadian Men's and Women's national ice hockey teams win Olympic gold that year was epic. I will never forget it.  


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?

Someone who insipires me to continue playing my sport include my parents and myself. My parents have sacrificed so much to give me the opportunities to play hockey at a high level. Without them I would not be where I am today.

However, with each year I continue to play the game, it's hard to say that I play hockey for them alone. I know that if I didn't enjoy hockey anymore, my parents wouldn't be upset or disappointed in me. Knowing that, I do believe that I continue to play for myself because I love the game of hockey and I want to be the best player for my team.  


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

For me, it's my teammates and all the experiences that I get to have while playing at the OUA level. I have created so many friendships and connections over these last 5 years that I know I will have for the rest of my life. I love hockey so much. So it's a bonus that I get to play the sport I love while at school. Also, I would definitely describe myself as a giant social butterfly, so getting to meet new people is what I love most.   



What is/are some of the more unique aspect(s) of your sport that others may not know about? 

Some unique aspects of hockey that some people may not know about is that goalie pads can be referred to as pillows. Often, in the older days of the game, they would actual pillows as goalie pads. Another unique thing that people might not know about hockey is that there are 2 different rink (surface) sizes. The standard rink size is 200 feet by 85 feet. Where as the dimensions of an Olympic rink size are 200ft long by 100ft wide. A difference of 15 extra feet.    


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

If someone were looking to play hockey, I will tell them to take skating lessons. If you can't skate, the game of hockey is nearly impossible to play successfully. 


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.)?

There are a couple of critical things I try to do to improve my game and keep up with all the young girls who are come up behind me. I always go to power skating sessions. I also work on lots of individual skills.

During the off-season, I  am able to train with boys who are play in the Western Hockey League (WHL), National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and various western provincial universities. Having the chance to practice with these elite players enables me to push myself outside of my comfort zone and helps me to become a better player. 


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

I would say to my 10-year old self to know that all your hard work is going to pay off. I would tell her not to get discouraged and be sure to enjoy every second of it. Once it's done, that's it. 


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

As a student-athlete, something that works well for me in ensuring a more balanced life between sport and school is to create friendships wherever and whenever I can. I choose to put myself out there.  Especially if sometimes hockey doesn't work out or I don't get to play, I can look forward to spending time with friends.  



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