21 October, 2012

Kim Pearce

I have been playing hockey for as long as I can remember.  I got into the game the same way many other girls my age did – we had older brothers who played and we simply did not want to be in the stands watching.  When my parents first put me into hockey when I was about 7 years old, they had no way of knowing how the sport would transform my life and really open doors to a world of opportunities.  They had no way of knowing that the game would actually set me on a completely different life track than that of my peers.

I have always just wanted to play as much hockey as possible for as long as possible.  At one point I was playing on 3 different teams, and fortunately I had dedicated parents willing to ensure that I made it to every single practice and game.  When playing on boys’ teams, there was always a dressing room full of guys who dreamed of playing in the NHL.  When playing with girls’ teams, there was always a room full of girls who dreamed of wearing the red and white in the Olympics.  I would be lying if I said I never dreamt of playing professional hockey and not much would top the feeling of pulling the red and white jersey over my head.  But, I was never overly driven by the thought of playing in the Olympics.  Rather, I wanted to keep playing the game I loved and hopefully be able to use it to get as far in life as possible.

By the time I started high school I was pretty set on doing everything possibly to ensure that I could play hockey at an Ivy League school.  I’m not sure exactly how that became my goal but I knew that I wanted to use hockey to get a great education.  Starting in grade 9 a series of events transpired that truly shaped the rest of my life.  The combination of not enjoying my high school and meeting the coach of the Connecticut Polar Bears (a travel team that plays the best teams in the US and is heavily scouted by college coaches) allowed for my parents and I to get introduced to the world of prep schools.  I am from Ottawa and my parents and I have never really even heard of prep schools in the US, let alone knowing what they entailed.  But after talking to the coach of the Polar Bears we realized that a prep school had a lot to offer me considering where I was in my life and what my goals were.

It quite possibly was one of the hardest decisions my parents and I have ever had to make.  I was 15 years old and we were seriously talking about me moving to Connecticut to go to a boarding school.  I knew no one in Connecticut and really had no idea what to expect.  Yet the fact that I would be getting educated at one of the top high schools in the US, would be on the ice every day in the winter, and would also be able to play with the Connecticut Polar Bears was just too good of an opportunity to pass up.  So we decided that after grade 10, I would be making the big move to the US.  After researching and visiting carious schools, I decided that The Taft School in Watertown, CT was the best match for me.

I still vividly remember the day that my parents dropped me off at Taft.  I remember saying my goodbyes and then they drove off.  It was only at that moment that it truly hit me what the full impact of my decision was.  I was sitting in my dorm room, in a foreign country, not knowing a single person, or how the remaining years of high school would play out.  Very quickly I fell in love with Taft and the life style at a prep school.  I was surrounded by similar students in the sense that they were driven and passionate not only about academics but also about extra-curriculars.  Not everyone played sports, but everyone had a passion and the school provided forums for students to further develop those passions.  One thing that I did not full appreciate before attending Taft was just how academically demanding the curriculum was.  I cam from a mediocre high school in Ottawa so the demands that were being place on students at Taft caught me off guard at first – never had so much been expected of me academically.  Friends and people back in Ottawa always thought I was just down in the States going to a “hockey school” – not many people truly comprehended that academics came first.

I have great memories from Taft and the decision to go there truly was life altering.  It shaped who I am as a person and provided me with the skills to excel at an Ivy League school.  Working with the college counselors at Taft and with lots of help from the coach of the Polar Bears, I was able to achieve my goal of using hockey to get into a top university.  I was accepted into Princeton and spent the next 4 years of my life in New Jersey taking full advantage of everything Princeton had to offer.  I loved it there academically, socially and could not be more proud to have been a Tiger for 4 years on the ice.

Over the years I was always interested in the law and the field of criminology and those interests solidified over my time at Princeton.  I knew by about halfway through my undergrad that law school was going to be the next step in my life.  After being away in the states for 7 years I decided that I wanted to come back to Canada and I attended Queen’s law school in Kingston, Ontario.

Not only was I moving onto the next chapter of my life in terms of attending law school, but I was also facing the scary reality that my competitive hockey career was over.  My life had evolved around hockey for as long as I could remember so the thought of not playing truly devastated me.  Fortunately I was able to stay involved with the game by being an assistant coach for the Queen’s varsity hockey team for my three years of law school.  I never thought I would coach but it turned out to be more fulfilling and rewarding than I every expected possible.  While at Queen’s I also played on the men’s law intramural hockey team.  It was a great way to keep playing the game I love, but also provided me with a means of integrating socially into the wider law school community.

My hockey background turned out to be very beneficial during the interview process for post-law school employment.  All my interviews were interested in my playing and coaching background and were aware that hockey was much more than a game – it was a means of instilling values such as hard work, dedication and working well with others.

So my hockey story is not one of being driven by playing for Team Canada but rather just to play the game itself.  My story is one of being fortunate enough to be able to use the game I love to get a great education and meeting incredible people along my journey.  Looking back at the last ten years of my life, it amazes me how much a sport can shape who you are.  The game, coaches I have had, and all my teammates over years have molded me into the person I am today.

It truly astonishes me how much the game has given back to me over the years – and even when I thought competitive hockey was over, I got re-introduced to the game in the form of coaching.  As a coach I viewed the game from a different perspective and learned so much from the players I had the privilege of coaching.

I am now moving onto the next chapter of my life – the real world!  I am finally done school and will be starting work in the summer of 2010.  I know I am prepared for anything the real world throws at me since through hockey I have encountered numerous challenging situations that have tested me and enabled me to develop the skills necessary to succeed.

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