I started playing ice hockey at nine years old.
There were no girls’ leagues in my hometown, so I was one of five girls to play with the boys. By age 13, I quit playing because of the constant teasing and bullying by the boys. My last year of playing I had dreaded going to practices and games, begging my mom to let me skip. The game had lost its fun for me, but my mom forced me to go, and I never missed a game or practice.
I didn’t play much for the next eight years except for a few games with my high school team. So when I started at UTM two years ago, I was ecstatic to find out that there is a women’s ice hockey team.
Nervous and terrified, I went to the first tryout praying that the other girls would be great and that I would make the team. I never lost the passion for the game and wanted to start playing again.
Thankfully, there were and still are no cuts made for the team. All the girls on the team are nice and welcoming. Over the years, we have become great friends. We have all sorts of skill sets of players, from superstars to beginners. Jasmine Sheehan, our coach, pushes us to be our best while still keeping the game fun. This year is the first time I’ve had a female coach with such a wealth of experience and tremendous skill level.
While our practices are at 10 p.m. on Wednesday nights, I have only missed one since I started with the team and take the bus home after (I don’t get home until 12:45 a.m.). It is not the most ideal of situations, but I made a commitment to the team and cherish every moment I can spend on the ice.
The team has also participated in a local summer league for the past two years. Sheehan brought in reinforcements for the league whom she either played with or against during her time playing for McGill’s varsity team and a few girls who play in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. It is a learning experience that has elevated my game and given me the experience of a lifetime—these girls have played with and against Olympians.
This year, about half of the team are new and the majority of those girls are defensemen, so I’ve switched from defense to offense. The last time I played offense was my first year of hockey when I was still learning the game. Now, I am relearning the game and realizing how much more skating forwards have to do over defensemen. We are always looking for new players of any skill level, so don’t be scared—we don’t bite, nor are we allowed to hit, but we have a great time.