MEET HAZEL KIRWAN!
Tell us about yourself!
I was so excited to be trying out for my first official team, in the same organization as my brother, the Chicago Jets. Not only did I make the team, but I was the only girl on the team and was so proud of myself. I had a fun year and made lots of new friends, but wondered where all the girls were. After the season ended, I got the chance to play a few games with an older girls team. I don’t know why, but I was really nervous at first. It was so much fun to be with other girls that loved playing hockey as much as I did. Not only did I make a ton of new friends, I met Coach Nick, my most favorite coach who taught me to believe in myself and gave me the courage to play with the older girls. I played with the girls during the summer and at the end, I was asked to tryout for the U10 Glenview Stars Girls team.
I made the team and I wasn’t even eight yet! Playing with the older girls in the summer was fun, but now that it was for real and the actual hockey season, I definitely had butterflies in my stomach. All I could think about was that I was their only goalie and they were all 2-3 years older than me, what if I let them down? But the moment I stepped on the ice, I knew I could do it. I had the support and strength of an entire team behind me. My teammates were always there for me and I was always there for them. We won the President’s Cup, NIHL Championship and came in 3rd place in State.
This upcoming season will be my third year with the Glenview Stars Girls team and I am even more excited than I was when I tried out for my first team. I love playing hockey and I love being a goalie more than anything.
What made you want to be a WHL Brand Ambassador?
My mom told me about WHL and said they were looking for ambassadors. I asked her what that was and she explained how they were helping to support women and girls in hockey. I saw a lot of older girls that were part of it, but didn’t see many my age. I just did a school summer project and learned the quote, “If not me, who? If not now, when?” I learned that it is important to do what you can to make things better and to try and do that now and not wait. I wanted to be an ambassador so I can help make a difference for other girls.
What are you most looking forward to as a #WHLAMBASSADOR?
I am looking forward to being part of another team that supports girls in hockey. Not just girls my age, but even younger and older girls. I started playing hockey because I saw my brother playing, but I think it is important for girls out there to know you don’t have to have a brother to play hockey. I am really looking forward to sharing my story with other girls. Hockey is an amazing sport and so much fun, everyone should be allowed to play. And like Coach Nick always says, “It’s not girl’s hockey, it’s girls playing hockey”.
What’s something not a lot of people know about you?
One thing most people don’t know about me, is that reading is a challenge for me. This is hard because sometimes I am embarrassed and I want to hide. When I stand in my net, I feel like a super-hero who can do anything. Hockey has helped me have more confidence with reading. I think to myself, if I can take pucks to the face without flinching, I can read!
If you could sit down and have dinner with one female hockey player, who would it be and why?
Kendall Coyne! Kendall is from Illinois and does so much for girls hockey here. She is so busy, but always takes the time to make each one of us feel special. I have met her a few times and would love to talk to her more about hockey and the Olympics. Maybe even try on her medals again!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given in hockey or in life?
The best advice I have been given in my life is from my parents, who always say to me, “Believe in yourself, as much as we believe in you.” I even wear a goalie necklace with that on it. The best hockey advice always comes from my goalie coach, Coach Bobby. Coach Bobby taught me how to turn things that upset me or frustrate me into “tackling fuel” (my mom says it is a line from one of his favorite movies). But most importantly, he taught me that the most important save, is the next one.
What’s your dream for women’s hockey?
My dream for women’s hockey is for women’s hockey to be equal to men’s hockey. If we can get more and more girls playing hockey and showing just how amazing we all are, maybe we can make that happen!