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Ashley Burrill Provides Strong Role as Builder for Women’s Game

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Since hanging up her skates, Ashley Burrill has remained very busy. Not only is she a Hockey Canada Certified Coach, her decade-plus experience as a coach and on-ice instructor complements another remarkable role in her distinguished hockey career.

Currently serving as the Co-ordinator for Membership Services in Women’s Hockey with CARHA Hockey, it has proven to be a labor of love. Having worked tirelessly to help build the game in Canada’s capital region, along with the rest of Canada, Burrill has also served as one of the league executives for the Ottawa Women’s AA Hockey League, working with the likes of fellow East Coast Edge instructor Krista Black, league games are contested at the Carleton Ice House,  

“It has been my occupation for five years now and I co-ordinate women’s programs there. I help provide programming, services and opportunities for female adult recreation hockey players across Canada.

I helped start the program for women’s hockey. I have worked towards building it every year. I continuously try to build more programs and educational opportunities for women’s players across Canada.”

While Burrill’s impressive background includes work as an instructor at the East Coast Edge Hockey Camp (which included former Hockey Canada competitor Stefanie McKeough), the Jacques Martin Hockey School and a Hockey Canada Initiation Program Instructor in 2013, she has assembled a solid playing career. A member of the Ottawa Gee-Gees program from 2006-10, she played alongside the likes of Mandi Duhamel and Marion Hilliard Award winner Danika Smith, appearing in the CIS Nationals.

“I played at the University of Ottawa for four years under Shelley Coolidge. While I was there, Danika Smith was my captain. I graduated in 2010 and I always wanted to work in sport. Right out of school, my passion was in sport. Luckily enough, I found it in hockey and I ended up getting a job in that sport (with CARHA).”

In her final season with the Gee-Gees, Burrill registered a respectable 8 points (on the strength of six goals). Of note, her final CIS goal came in a 5-3 win on February 6, 2010 against the Concordia Stingers, scoring on Audrey Doyon-Lessard, with assists credited to Kayla Hottot and and Blair Kitlar. Her final point would be an assist in a February 20 loss to the Montreal Carabins. Coincidentally, it was an assist on a goal scored by Hottot.  

Of note, teammates from her final Gee-Gees season would become teammates on the Ottawa Vanier Women’s Ball Hockey League’s Ottawa Rebels including Fannie Desforges, Dominique Lefebvre and Erika Pouliot. Having spent six years with the Ottawa Rebels, she would be part of a bronze medal effort at the 2015 CBHA Nationals. Although the bronze medal was a visceral match against fellow OVWBHL franchise, the Vanier Mooseheads, the event provided a memorable experience for Burrill,

“Absolutely it was great. It shows that Ottawa has a lot of depth. The league in general is fairly competitive. To play another Ottawa team in the semis, it was almost like our league final (laughs). They are very good friends and I would rather play an Ottawa team for the bronze than anyone else. It is always fun to play against your friends.

I helped organize our team for the nationals but a lot of girls help organize with our team. Whether it be obtaining jerseys or recruiting, every one of the players plays with a role.”

Currently, Burrill is involved with another remarkable hockey event, poised to become a staple in Canadian women’s hockey. Of note, she is involved with the 2016 CARHA Hockey Women’s Cup in Windsor, Ontario, taking place from April 3-10, 2016. Taking into account that it only occurs every four years, it holds a remarkable amount of prestige. The 2012 CARHA Hockey World Cup (which also hosted the first women’s tournament) was a Finalist for the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance’s Event of the Year.

“It will be a week-long event with 15 different countries. More than 120 teams will come from around the world. It is the World Cup of Adult Rec Hockey Leagues. Every four years, it is always in a select Canadian city.

I have been building the women’s division since the 2012 edition of the championship, which was in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. That was the first time that we had a women’s division, so this will be our second installment.”

Destined to be part of her legacy in the event is the opportunity to expand the women’s game through the involvement of international teams. Truly contributing to the concept of borderless hockey, where the real prize is the celebration of the women’s game, Burrill is looking forward to the event with great anticipation,

“I think there will be more of an international flair. We have also had a lot of interest from American teams to come over.”

Throughout the last few years, a fellow Ottawa women’s hockey mainstay has been a key part of Burrill’s career. From playing alongside her on the Rebels to working together as instructors at the Next Generation Hky instructional school, Chelsea Grills has become a valued friend. Having won a pair of championships in a coaching capacity with Amherst College (Div III) and McGill University (CIS), the former St. Lawrence scoring sensation is an individual whose focus is akin to Burrill,

“One of my teammates from the Rebels works with me at CARHA Hockey, Chelsea Grills. Our values are definitely aligned as we have the same outlook towards the program. It is always nice to work with someone who has the common goal, and the same passion as well.”

As Ottawa continues to emerge as one of Canada’s premier communities for women’s ice hockey, the efforts of accomplished women such as Ashley Burrill are very essential towards an even stronger future. Focused on providing more opportunities for women to participate, CARHA is a key player for providing resources and services, a role that Burrill is happy to contribute to,

“With the CARHA, I think seeing the women’s program grow is great. Being able to provide more opportunities for women, many of them never had when they were younger and they are diving into it now.

The games bring so many people together and there is great camaraderie and friendships. For me, I play with so many of my best friends, and that is one of the best things.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

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