Having graced the ice in over 120 combined appearances, Caitlin and Erran Lee are among the most successful pair of siblings in York Lions athletics lore. In a season that saw the Lamoureux sisters Jocelyne and Monique become the first twins to capture a gold medal in women’s ice hockey at the Winter Games, there was definitely a strong sense of pride for Lions hockey, as the Lee Twins enjoyed Academic All-Canadian status in every one of their seasons with the program.
With Caitlin providing depth on defence, while Erran excelled at the forward position over the last four fantastic seasons, such status took on an exciting lustre. Amy and Erin Locke, another pair of hockey playing sisters on the Lions roster (although not twins) gained similar recognition. Coincidentally, both pairs of sisters are majoring in Kinesiology & Health Sciences.
Other members of the Lions roster that gained such vaunted status included Christina Chin, Lauren Dubie, Steffei Samuel, Dana Somerville and Chelsea Tucker. Later in the season, Samuel would play a pivotal part in a pair of milestone points for both twins.
While the Lions’ teammates have become a second family for Caitlin and Erran, there is definitely another strong family influence. Setting the foundation for the hockey odyssey that unfolded, Erran recalls the strong leadership demonstrated by her mother. Raised in Madoc, Ontario (located north of Kingston), their opportunity to compete was attributed to a team that their mother had founded.
Having also competed in women’s ice hockey with York University (back when the program was nicknamed the Yeowomen), her daughters are proud to build on the family’s hockey heritage as second generation women’s players. Undoubtedly, the chance to cultivate their skills through such a positive role model as their mother only served as the catalyst to pursue the game, eventually competing for bigger organizations in nearby Belleville.
“My mom started a girls’ hockey team for my sister and I and some of our friends in Madoc when we were 6 years old. There were not any other competitive sports opportunities for girls our age in our small town. At the time, I did not realize the significance of that.
She gave thirteen to fourteen young girls the opportunity to get involved in such a great sport. I think for my sister and I, it really ignited a passion. Caitlin and I were reading one of her old journals from around that time and on one page she wrote ‘I love hockey so much. I wish it never ended’.
Being able to enjoy our sport with our friends and our mom made it so special. Although that team only lasted two seasons, it was just the beginning of a career of being led and coached by my mom. She was also on the varsity team at York, so by joining the Lions in 2014 we were following in her footsteps.”
Although sporting siblings always endure seemingly endless comparisons, there are also reciprocal effects that take shape. From the outset, a sibling serves as a source of motivation and inspiration, simultaneously strengthening the bond of love and friendship between them.
As Caitlin states, the kind of motivation and support that comes from Erran’s assiduous efforts has definitely paid remarkable dividends. While both are reputed as being among the hardest working players on the ice, their joint efforts were important off the ice, because of their admirable academic goals.
During their undergraduate years, each has enjoyed the distinction of having the highest GPA among all York student-athletes, including a cumulative average of 8.6 in 2015-16. Caitlin would also earn the university’s Stuart G. Robbins Award on two separate occasions. Said award brings with it tremendous prestige as it recognizes the Lions’ student-athlete with the highest GPA among all recipients of the Sport Excellence Award.
“From a young age, Erran has motivated me to push myself because she is consistently the hardest working person. She takes great pride in her work ethic, which I believe is one of her best attributes. This encourages me to do the same and work hard to be the best player I can be.
As twins, we have always been compared to each other in all aspects of all life. Being compared to someone of that character gave me a competitive drive that also transcended into academics and community engagement.”
While both have successfully achieved their mutual goals, including playing together at the university level, along with graduating together, another objective is within reach of fruition. Prior to the start of their senior season, both wrote the LSAT examination. Considering that the next chapter shall involve each continuing their education collectively in law school, the sense of teamwork between the two has reached greater heights for Erran.
“Being able to achieve what we have academically while at York has made me very proud. We really are a team, we have been from the start, and we push each other well to work as hard as we can.
We prepared for the LSAT separately, we usually study on our own, but by the end of last summer we were doing timed practice tests every day together. That’s something I love about being a twin, even though things like the LSAT are obviously independent activities, it has never felt like I am alone.
Caitlin is so smart and so dedicated to everything she does, I am very fortunate to have her to guide me when I need it.”
With so many tremendous achievements on and off the ice, Caitlin’s remarkable approach to success also incorporated an element of levity. During her sophomore campaign, she reveals the embracing of a humorous label bestowed upon her the season prior.
Akin to so many other individuals entering university, the first year is understandably one of adjustment. Revealing how she overcame being introverted, participating in the team “dance off” was one that became equally heartfelt. Taking into account how Winter Games silver medalist Erika Lawler once revealed on The Ellen Show that she liked to dance before games, boogying quickly became an enjoyable ritual for Caitlin,
“The dance off initially started in my second year. As an incoming rookie, I was extremely shy, but had to participate in the dance off at my rookie party. It was quickly recognized that I lacked any dancing ability, and I was deemed the worst dancer on the team.
As I gained more confidence in my second year, I embraced the title and challenged our then captain Amy Locke (another very awful dancer) to a dance off the night of the athletic banquet. We had a few weeks to prepare and dance props and costumes were permitted.
I easily defeated Locke, and was put forward to challenge a rookie the following years. I lost to Leah Hibbert (who actually can dance) in my third year but regained the title of “best worst dancer” of the team in my fourth and final year.”
While Caitlin’s senior season is one filled with many memories, the most favorite of her cherished career actually took place during her freshman campaign. Challenging the Brock Badgers on October 12, 2014, she scored unassisted in the first period against backstop Stephanie Loukes for the first goal of her Lions career.
In addition, Caitlin would log the assist on Lisa Stathopoulos’ second goal of the game. Worth noting, she was one of three Lions to record a multi-point effort in the contest. Along with Stathopoulos, the other Lion was Kristen Barbara, who would capture a Clarkson Cup title in 2018 with the Markham Thunder. Statistics aside, the game had a much more profound meaning, as it was one that served as a defining moment, establishing the character that she would be revered for,
“My favourite moment would have to be the first CIS game I played in my rookie year. I was not picked to dress the first regular season game but was selected for the following game. I scored on my first shot and I can remember the adrenaline rush that day. I was proud of my hard work to make lineup and how I really appreciated and used the opportunity I was given.”
Caitlin’s final goal would take place on November 12, 2017 vs the Laurier Golden Hawks. Placing her name on the scoresheet in the second period, scoring on Hannah Miller, there was a strong sense of emotional to said goal. Of note, the aforementioned Samuel gained one of the assists, the other assist belonged to Erran, bringing a storybook element to their senior season.
Statistically, the final points of Erran’s career took place in back-to-back games, both wins for the Lions. On February 16, 2018, which was also Senior Night, she would score against Valencia Yordanov from the University of Toronto Lady Blues at the 5:46 mark of the third frame. Logging the assists were Ellen Donaldson and Sarah Power in what proved to be the final goal of the game.
The following day, Erran was a key contributor in an important road win. Taking place down the Queen Elizabeth Way against the Brock Badgers in St. Catharines, there was a high sense of motivation as it would signify the final game for the Lions senior class.
With the score tied at 1-each in the third period, Erran assisted on a goal by Samuel, one which also proved to be the game-winning tally. Taking into account that Erin Locke, one half of the other sister playing duo for the Lions, scored twice in the game, including the final goal, it added a remarkable sense of serendipity to this milestone game from Erran’s senior season.
Another key milestone that took place for both Caitlin and Erran was somewhat unforeseen although very well deserved. Prior to senior night, the combined legacy of their academic achievements and strong on-ice leadership were celebrated in a special pre-game ceremony.
Taking place before a contest against the eventual national championship silver medalist Western Mustangs at Canlan Ice Sports, it was a fitting tribute which saw them joined by their proud parents at centre ice. In spite of the fact that the Lions never appeared in the postseason during their playing careers, the constant drive and effort towards success provided positive effects for their teammates, elements that could not be measured in simple terms of wins and losses.
This celebration of character accentuated an inspiring comeback for Caitlin. Although she has been a symbol of durability on the blueline, the 2016-17 season was most visceral. Sidelined for a span of 11 games (lasting two months) due to concussion woes, the chance at a clean bill of health resulted in 24 on-ice appearances as a senior.
Serving as prologue for the ritual of senior night, signifying a rite of passage for all student-athletes, the obligatory feelings of both melancholy and merriment were evident. Understandably, there is the mourning the end of an enjoyable and formative time, a realization that the teammates from the university years are the closest ever. Reflecting on the senior night festivities, Caitlin absorbed the sense of commemorating a rich narrative that shall be treasured long after she hangs up her skates.
“On senior night I was very emotional. I was proud of what I had accomplished at York and the challenges and injuries I had overcome. I was also very sad to see this huge chapter of my life ending. My time as an athlete at York fostered some of my favourite memories, and it was bittersweet to be graduating and leaving a team of some of my best friends.”
Aptly, the postseason would supply one more treasured opportunity to honor the legacy of the Lee twins. Caitlin was among the six York University Lions student-athletes that were finalists for the Charles Saundercook Memorial Trophy, which is also known as the Heart of a Lion Award.
With criteria including recognition of key values, such as perseverance, sportsmanship and enthusiasm for life, another key standard, the consideration of others certainly defined Caitlin’s stretch as a student-athlete. Complementing the sensational comeback heading into this season involved Caitlin’s leadership skills off the ice. Serving in a pair of admirable initiatives, including a role as a PAWS mentor, she also held esteemed status as an academic resource for other student-athletes, truly expanding the concept of teamwork.
Employing an amazing work ethic on and off the ice, Caitlin and Erran are poised to continue to experience success in their future endeavors. Exemplifying the potential for greatness that student-athletes can achieve, demonstrating a positive example, they were certainly once-in-a-lifetime teammates that enriched the spirit of competition and fair play in Lions athletics. While they both possessed a peerless presence, the chance to contribute towards the culture of both the academic and athletic community is one that has made a lasting impression, as Erran recounts with both pride and praise,
“What I will miss most about being a Lion is the community we have amongst the athletes and the family of our team. Being an athlete changed my entire experience at York because of the relationships that grew from sport. I will be forever thankful for the four years I had as a Lion.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Images obtained from facebook and York Lions athletics
Photo credit (Caitlin Lee vs Waterloo): Jon Halpenny