As the communications coordinator for Hockey Canada, Lipscombe is at the heart of the action. Whether it is at the Under-18, Under-22, or senior level, she is helping to give women’s ice hockey an identity in the hockey landscape. One of her most recent assignments was handling media relations for the senior team at the 2012 IIHF Women’s World Championships in Burlington, Vermont. A former member of the nationally prominent Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, Lipscombe is no stranger to the frozen surface. As a native of hockey hotbed Kingston, Ontario, hockey is in her blood.
Outlook: What was your influence in deciding to play hockey?
Lipscombe: Growing up, my parents encouraged me to join many different activities, and I tried everything from Scottish highland dancing to figure skating, but hockey is what stuck, and I absolutely fell in love with everything about the sport. Part of my hockey passion stems from the fact that we were a typical Canadian family – both my younger brothers (Bryan and John) played, my Dad (Ken) coached, my Mom (Marg) drove us from arena to arena in our minivan and we had an outdoor rink in our backyard. We even had a skate sharpener in our basement! All the neighbourhood parents and kids would stop by to talk hockey and get their skates sharpened by my Dad. Another major reason why hockey has been such an important part of my life is because of the friendships I made growing up in Kingston, and the values instilled in me, as a result of playing such a fun team sport, from self-confidence to sportsmanship. Hockey has made me a hard worker, a great friend and a strong person. I owe a lot to the sport I love!
Outlook: Growing up in Kingston, you played for the Kingston Kodiaks. Another female hockey hero, Jayna Hefford is from Kingston. Did you ever play with her growing up?
Lipscombe: As Jayna is a few years older than me, I never had the opportunity to play on a Kingston team with her, but her mom, Sandra, managed my Kodiaks team for some time. I also played against Jayna many times in high school, when I was with K.C.V.I. (Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute) and she was with Holy Cross Secondary School. Sometimes during high school tournaments, I would play goalie just for fun, and in one game when I was between the posts, she scored tons of goals on me, but I remember stopping one of her shots, and the whole rink erupted in cheers! She was always such a talented player on the ice, and everyone in Kingston is so proud of everything she has accomplished. When I was a young female hockey player, she was an incredible inspiration to me and my teammates, and even though I’m not a competitive player anymore, she still inspires me to be the best that I can be, in whatever it is I choose to do. Kingstonians are very fortunate to call Jayna one of our own.
Outlook: Having played for the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, what stands out as your best experience?
Lipscombe: Just making it to that level as a hockey player was an honour and a huge accomplishment for me. I was always a strong, dependable player but I was never a superstar, and I worked hard to make that team and continued to work hard so that we could be successful on the ice. As a stay-at-home blueliner, I didn’t rack up the stats (unless you count penalty minutes!), but in one game against the University of Guelph during my second year on the team, I took a beautiful shot from the point and scored an important game-winning playoff goal. When I walked into the dressing room, my teammates dumped a cooler of ice over my head, cheered loudly and hugged me in celebration. That was the first time I’ve ever been congratulated quite like that, so that is a wonderful memory that really sticks out in my mind!
Outlook: Were there any players on the Golden Hawks that had an influence on you as a player?
Lipscombe: All of my teammates influenced me in a positive way, particularly in my rookie year. A lot of the women I had the opportunity to play with during my first year had worked really hard to grow the team and get Laurier accepted into the OUA and CIS (then CIAU), so I had a lot of respect for all of the time and effort they put in to building a solid foundation for women’s hockey at Laurier, and developing it over the years into one of the top teams in the country. My fellow Golden Hawks were very passionate about our sport, and I was proud to skate alongside them. As a side note, National Women’s Team alumna Cheryl Pounder played at Laurier and graduated the year before I joined the team, and National Women’s Team alumna Lara Perks played on the team when I was in my second year, so we had some serious women’s hockey talent come out of Laurier!
Outlook: Your first experience with Hockey Canada was as a promotions assistant at the 2002 Four Nations Cup in Kitchener. What was the experience like?
Lipscombe: It was such a fun and rewarding experience, which is why I kept volunteering for Hockey Canada, and dreamed of one day working there full-time! Fortunately, that dream came true, and I get to keep experiencing amazing international women’s hockey moments, just as I did at the 2002 4 Nations Cup In Kitchener, and the 2004 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Halifax, where I volunteered as website content editor. I am proof positive that following your heart can make your dreams come true!
Outlook: For a brief time, you lived in Atlantic Canada. How much did you enjoy freelancing as a Cole Harbour correspondent for the Pittsburgh Tribune Review?
Lipscombe: I actually lived in Halifax for about seven years, so quite some time, and after graduating from the University of King’s College, I worked there as a reporter at both The Chronicle Herald and Metro News. Print journalism is another passion of mine, and I also really loved living in Halifax, which now feels like my “home away from home.” I met many of my very best friends there, and I go back to visit them and the place I love most in the world often. I think it’s truly one of the best places on earth, and Nova Scotians are the “salt of the earth,” as they say! While working as a reporter, I took on some freelance pieces for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, acting as a sort of “correspondent” from Cole Harbour when their hometown hero led the Penguins to the Stanley Cup Finals for two straight years. It didn’t feel much like work because it was so much fun, especially when Sid the Kid brought the Cup to Cole Harbour and the whole community celebrated. What a magical moment to be a part of, and for Nova Scotia as a whole!
Outlook: Having travelled throughout the world with various national teams, is there a particular country that stands out as your favourite?
Lipscombe: To be honest, it’s not so much the places as the people that stand out in my mind. The hockey world is full of passionate, enthusiastic and very friendly people, and whether it’s in the Czech Republic or here in Canada, it’s always wonderful to meet those who have helped make hockey what it is today – the best sport in the world!
Outlook: As the media relations and communications coordinator, what would you say is the favourite part of your job?
Lipscombe: Wow, it’s hard to choose one favourite part of my job! But again, I’d say it’s all of the amazing people I encounter, especially when on the road, whether it’s at national championships or international events, from players to reporters to volunteers. There is something really special about “hockey people” and it’s always so nice to meet those who are truly excited and passionate about what they do, and about our awesome sport.
Outlook: Something that fans may not be aware of is your charitable work. You founded a Chapter for Human Rights at the University of King’s College, and you also volunteered for Oxfam. What inspired you to get involved in a humanitarian role?
Lipscombe: Both academics and athletics were important to me growing up, and still are today. I have always strived to lead a balanced lifestyle that includes interests and ambitions outside of sport, which is why I covered everything from crime to music to politics as a reporter, and why I continue to pursue passions such as human rights, international development and environmental sustainability. Hockey is a very important part of my life, but it’s not the only important part of my life, and I enjoy getting involved in other activities and organizations, including Journalists for Human Rights and Oxfam. These are two of my favourite non-profit groups and I hope to do more work for these and others in the future.
Outlook: In travelling throughout the country to cover various events for Hockey Canada, do you still marvel at how excited fans are to meet their hockey heroes?
Lipscombe: I think it’s so important for our national team players to serve as role models, and for young players to have positive idols and “hockey heroes” growing up! I know I looked up to many National Women’s Team players when I was as young female player, and they helped inspire me to set my standards high and reach for the stars. Hopefully, I can help inspire young women who are interested in sports media to get involved in what is a traditionally male-dominated field. It’s also important to have positive women’s hockey representatives as we continue to grow the female game both at home and abroad.
Outlook Hockey would like to thank Kristen for taking the time to make this interview possible.