I can remember it like yesterday. I gathered my skates, my stick and placed a hockey puck in my pocket. I headed out the back door and down to the pond my Dad spent numerous hours perfecting. Not only were my hockey skates at least 2 sizes too big, but also my stick was about 2 feet longer than needed!! But I didn’t care – I was playing hockey with my big brother and there was nothing else in the world that I would rather be doing.
I think I can speak for a number of girls when I say I started playing hockey because of my big brother. Day after day you could find me on that pond, and before I knew it, I was playing organized hockey with Aylmer Minor Hockey Association. I remember my first hockey picture – I had pink laces, a blue helmet, red pants, maroon socks and green gloves – needless to say, I did not stick out solely because I was a girl! I was the only girl on my team and this continued to be the case until I was 13 years old. At that point in my hockey career, I made the switch to girls hockey and began playing with the Belmont, Aylmer, Dorchester (BAD) Girls Association. The following year I played for the London Devilettes and continued to play in this organization until grade 12. In my last year of high school, I had committed early to Boston University and could not wait to move to the big city! It was during my grade 12 year that I was also invited to my first U-22 Canadian National Tryout Camp. It was such a great learning experience, as I got to witness firsthand the effort, intensity and commitment that goes hand in hand with having an Olympic Gold Medal hang from your neck.
Over the next 4 years, my summers were committed to training and preparing for the U-22 Conditioning Camps and Tryouts. It was never easy, but it was my passion and I wanted nothing more than to wear the Canadian jersey and sign “O Canada.” In 2008, my dream became a reality. I vividly remember staring at that red and white jersey with “Shaw” on the back and pulling it over my head. It was both a privilege and an honor to wear that jersey and represent my country; all while playing the sport I love. The path was never easy: 3 out of the 4 times I was at the U22 Tryouts, I heard those dreaded words, “we have decided to release you at this time…” and took that long walk back to my hotel room to pack up and head to the airport. But there is not one thing I would change. Because the morning I heard “Congratulations….” made all that sweat, pain and those days I could barely lift my legs, completely worth it. I could finally go back to my room and call my family and tell them I’d be in wearing the red and white; and for me, that was worth it all. My family has always been my biggest support and to be able to hear their joy and excitement made that moment even more special.
At Boston University, I was a part of the first ever division one women’s ice hockey team. We made impressive strides during my four years: my senior year we were ranked as high as 4th in the Nation, we made the Hockey East Semi-Finals, and most importantly, 4 classes of talented hockey players placed BU on the women’s hockey map as one of the top teams in the Nation.
After graduating from BU, I decided to pursue a professional hockey career in Zurich, Switzerland. This was an opportunity that I could not turn down. I was extremely excited to start a new chapter of my life and take in the Swiss culture. The intensity that surrounded the game was not nearly as demanding as BU, which was a nice change of pace. Not only did I get to travel around Europe and take advantage of living overseas, but I also got to play the sport I loved while doing it.
Hockey has presented endless opportunities to me and I could not be more thankful for that. I never thought I’d ever get changed in a janitor’s closet because there were no girls change rooms, but I did. I never thought that I would be more concerned about what N’Sync song was being played in the change room between the first and second period, but I did. I never thought I’d be a member of the first ever Division 1 Boston University women’s ice hockey team, but I was. I never thought I’d carry a Gold medal around my neck while singing O Canada, but I did. I never thought I’d ever see the Matterhorn (the Toblerone Mountain!), but I did.
As you can see, hockey is much more than what you see on the ice, it’s all that and then some.