If baseball is America’s pastime, hockey is Canada’s lifeblood. Growing up in Canada, you’re privy to a show of hockey fanaticism at its finest, and chances are you’ll be sucked into the sport at a young age and stay loyal to your team for life.
UTM’s Katey Teekasingh felt compelled to try the sport after watching the NHL’s best duke it out during Hockey Night in Canada with her father. “I started playing at the age of six and have never looked back since,” says Teekasingh, a first-year student hoping to major in sociology and CCIT and one of the three goalies on U of T’s Varsity Blues women’s hockey team.
A Toronto native, Teekasingh got her start in hockey as a forward in a house league and eventually found her calling between the pipes as a goaltender. “Coaches really make sure that every player has a chance to play every position, including goalie, at least once,” explains Teekasingh. Though she was nervous about playing in net, she was pleasantly surprised at how rewarding she found hearing the cheering fans and teammates, which she felt gave her position importance.
Teekasingh remembers a specific save she made that elicited wild cheers, which made her realize she had potential in this role. “It was like I had just made the save of my life and the highlights were going to be featured on TSN that night,” she says. “I went home later and told my parents that I wanted to play goalie again because I loved being on the ice for the entire game and I loved how loud people got when I made saves.”
Honing her talents over the next few years, Teekasingh attended goalie school and eventually found a spot on the Mississauga Chiefs Midget AA team. With the support of her parents and coaches, she continued to improve her goaltending. Her inspiration was one of the greatest NHL goalies of all time: Patrick Roy. When the opportunity arose to play hockey at the university level, Teekasingh decided to take it. “It has always been a dream of mine to take my hockey career all the way to university and the dream was so big that I was willing to do whatever it took to play, wherever it is that I ended up at,” she says.
Vicky Sunohara, the head coach of the Varsity Blues women’s team asked Teekasingh to attend training camp at U of T to assess her performance. “We were on the ice two hours every day,” says Teekasingh. She was asked to play between the pipes in an exhibition game against Laurentian University on September 13, in which she earned a shutout and gave U of T the victory. It was after this game that Teekasingh was asked to be the Blues’ third goalie. “By far, [that was] one of the top three best days of my life,” she says.
So far, Teekasingh is loving the experience of playing for the Blues. “It’s been absolutely amazing and I can’t be more thankful. I truly believe that my first year at university wouldn’t be as great as it is without the team,” she says.
Teekasingh hopes to improve her game during her first year with the Blues, and is taking advantage of the expert coaching offered through the program. “There are some technical things I would like to improve on: for example, better controlled rebounds, being more consistent, and a couple others as well,” says Teekasingh. “I mainly want my coaches and the rest of the team to see that I deserve to be there as much as the next player.”
Off the ice, Teekasingh coaches at a Markham goalie clinic every Sunday as part of M-Power Hockey’s programming. “The experience is great; I really love working with these girls because they remind me of myself as a goalie at their age,” she says. “It really helps me improve because I’m able to see what the mistakes look like from an outside perspective, so that when I go in to practice I can do a better job of making sure I don’t make the same mistakes.”
“It’s also a lot of fun shooting on them, because as goalies, we don’t ever get a chance to shoot on another goalie,” she adds.
Teekasingh has already established herself as a Varsity Blues goaltender, but hasn’t yet reached her goal. “I’m the third goalie, and my long-term goal is to be a starter in my last couple of seasons with the team. But for now, I just really want to continue to work hard day in and day out, get better each day, and prove that I deserve my spot,” she says. And with more than 11 games left in the season, Teekasingh is bound to see more starts before the season is over.
UTM students can cheer Teekasingh and the Blues on in their final two games of the fall semester on November 30, when the Blues face Laurentian University, and on December 1, when Nippising University comes to the Varsity Centre.