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AMBASSADOR SPOTLIGHT: Rachael Irving | Auburn, New Hampshire

Rachael Irving

Meet Rachael Irving!

Tell us about yourself!

In my first season playing hockey at the age of five, my dad asked me a life changing question: “What is more important to you, stopping pucks or scoring goals?” Immediately I answered, “stopping pucks.” I was so confident in my answer because I am a very independent person, and as a goaltender you are all on your own without much help; it is your job to stop the puck and keep them in the game. After all, this lead to my career as a goaltender.

My name is Rachael Irving, and I am a 2006 goaltender from Auburn, New Hampshire. Although I am now a U.S. resident, I was born in Toronto, Ontario. My family and I relocated when I was nine years old, and in fourth grade. I am now an eighth grader at the Derryfield School—a private school located in Manchester, New Hampshire. I have played for many different American and Canadian teams including Ajax Knights, Durham West Lightning, New Hampshire Avalanche, New England Wildcats, Top Gun, and many various summer teams. This year I will be playing for the Top Gun 2006 AAA boys hockey team located in Salem, New Hampshire. This is my fourth year playing with the Top Gun organization, who I have played with since my Squirt Major year.

What made you want to be a WHL Brand Ambassador?

When I was in my Tyke or Novice years of boys hockey, I always roamed around the rinks searching for older Bantam girls like me who have the same goal or passion. As I am now a Bantam goaltender, it has been my dream to give the younger female hockey players role models to look up to within their organization, town, or even the league they play in. Being on the older side of the Top Gun organization, I enjoy seeing all these young female players walk into our home rink (the Icenter) with pride and determination to reach their fullest potential.

What are you most looking forward to as a #WHLAMBASSADOR?

As a Women’s Hockey Life Ambassador, I hope to accomplish many different goals with the team. I hope to inspire many young girls to do what they love, and enjoy their passion like I do. Around the rink, I hope to lead as an example showing them that they can do anything they aspire! I believe hockey should be a woman’s job in their life and not a hobby. Different from the men’s game, every woman’s story is very different. Did they start out playing boys or girls hockey? How long did they play boys hockey? I look forward to sharing my story with others, and learn about theirs as well!

What’s something not a lot of people know about you?

A hobby that many may not know about me is my hidden hobby for writing poetry. In the past few years, I have expanded my style of writing poetry, where I have been able to write “my feelings” out. I use poetry as a way to say everything I would want to say to a person, or to the world. Recently, I wrote a collection of hockey poems that deal with different things people have said to me, goals I want to achieve, my hockey experience, equality, and etc. You should really try it—get out all your feelings and worries in just a few words!

If you could sit down and have dinner with one female hockey player, who would it be and why?

If I could sit down and have dinner with one female hockey player, it would definitely be Manon Rheaume. Manon was the first and only female to have played even a single game in the NHL, and I would love to hear that story from her! Although I have read her autobiography about her experiences throughout her career, I would love to learn more about the journey and the struggles she faced along the way. How did people treat her in the rink? Did they look at her with a grin or a smile when she walked into the rink? What were people’s reaction for the first ever girl to play in the Quebec International Peewee Hockey Tournament that lead to up to 100+ young girls playing in the tournament including myself? How did she get past all the hurtful things people may have said to her? These are just a few of the questions I would ask because many of them can relate to my hockey career.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given in hockey or in life?

For every single game I play I repeat the same three steps to myself: breathe, take one shot at a time, and have fun. These steps are the most important to goaltending because you will either get too ahead of yourself, or you will be nervous and scared of the competition. Whenever I feel nervous in the net, I just breathe and shake out my nervousness to stay in the moment, focus on your breathing and let your mind wander and focus on nothing but breathing.

What’s your dream for women’s hockey?

My dream for women’s hockey is getting to a place where “hockey” has one definition. The mens and women’s game are no different, so why should their salaries or leagues be less advanced? We all play on the same sized ice with skates, so what’s the difference? Although the men’s game may seem more advanced, I believe the women’s game and their society is better. If you were to email any professional women’s hockey player they could easily get back to you within a day, whereas the men who play in the NHL wouldn’t have the time to answer thousands of questions.

In fact, one day I emailed one of my biggest idols, Shannon Szabados, and she got back to me within six hours. Every player or parent involved in the women’s hockey community knows and understands the struggles of each player, so they combine and work together to reach the same goal. I hope one day women can make a living playing the game we all love!

 


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