One of the most accomplished two-sport stars in women’s ice hockey, Amber Bowman continues to add to her sparkling athletic legacy. As one of the most decorated participants, female or male, in the incipient history of the World Firefighter Challenge, with 16 gold medals to her credit, every win for Bowman represents a subsequent win for women’s ice hockey, continuing to elevate the prominence of its skaters as role models.
Having found new sporting ambitions after competitive hockey, Bowman has engaged in a series of extraordinary adventures. Her world-class achievements in competitive firefighting have transformed her into a trailblazer for the growing sport. Simultaneously, she has represented the potential for women to stand shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts.
With so many remarkable achievements, a fascination has developed, transforming her into a beloved icon in her community. Having also recently engaged in public speaking at the Richmond Hill Women’s Conference (located north of Toronto), it symbolizes a growing appreciation and gratitude.
Recently, Bowman gained the opportunity to revisit the site of one of her greatest glories in competitive firefighting. Traveling across the Atlantic, Bowman returned to the modern-day utopian paradise of Dubai, where she captured the inaugural Abu Dabi Firefighter Challenge in 2014.
Successfully defending her championship, the experience proved to be much more gratifying with the achievement of a personal best in the Female Individual Race, finishing 11 seconds faster than she did in 2014. In addition, Bowman would finish in first place in the inaugural Female Tandem race, and the Co-Ed tandem, racing with individuals such as Jackie Palmer and Trevor Fera. Adding to an amazing legacy was matched by the overall feeling of victory that came with an increased number of female competitors, ambitious, determined and hard-working, due to the introduction of the empowering Female Tandem race.
While such glories are an extension of Bowman’s world-record run of dominance in the sport, bringing with it an aura of invincibility, there was a human element that only proved to make her more compelling. From injury, underdog status and a larger field of competitors, the phenomena produced at Dubai in 2016 only added to her mythology.
Considering that Bowman’s training regiment took place in a much different climate, having to adjust from preparing in the winter solstice, to excelling in the warm desert sun. It is testament to Bowman’s character and maturity that she has the ability to understand remaining a competitive athlete also means learning to make adjustments, the sign of greatness and wisdom.
“This competition meant a lot to me. First off, having to train in snow and not ideal summer conditions made it completely different. I gym trained a ton, used hockey treadmills, played hockey, ran through snow banks, cross country skied … all to train for this race! I was at a complete disadvantage over some of the other competitors but it made me stronger overall.
This was also a race to defend my 2014 title In Dubai but also to come back from Worlds 2015 where I placed second in female individual. Having to be the so called “underdog”, made me find new ways and weakness to focus on!”
With a well-deserved rest in Ola, Greece, it allowed Bowman to engage in some levity, posting a photo on social media where it gave the impression that she added to her exceptional endeavors with a marathon race, “I did NOT run a marathon in Greece. It was a fun joke where I ran along some of the racers. We did hike everyday and walked a lot of miles to site see Greece. I would not have been able to run a marathon after training for the toughest two minutes in Sports!”
While Bowman’s hockey career has involved a memorable run with the Ohio State Buckeyes, where she served as captain, followed by an opportunity to be among the playing pioneers in the CWHL and complemented by an OWHA Senior A championship with the Aurora Panthers, there is more than just a successful playing career when considering her legacy.
Equally accomplished on the other side of the game, it represents a duality in Bowman’s career. Garbed in the paraphernalia of a referee, Bowman is still heavily immersed in the game. Serving in an officiating capacity, she experiences the game from a different perspective.
Considering that officiating can at times be a thankless job, the fact that many officials volunteer their time makes them the unsung heroes of hockey. In this capacity, the increase of women becoming officials adds more value and importance, while continuing to elevate the prominence of women in all facets of the overall game. In recent years, many former players have remained part of the game as officials. Among the most well-known is Elizabeth Mantha, a former competitor at the CIS level with Les Carabins de Montreal, who not only officiates at CWHL games in Montreal, but has experienced the thrill of IIHF-sanctioned events.
Although officiating was an unforeseen aspect of Bowman’s hockey odyssey, her dedication shone through. As Bowman reveals, the foray into this aspect of the game was more than just a labor of love. It represented investing so much of herself as she successfully balanced coaching, refereeing and playing. The reality is that her actions represented a remarkable vitality and high energy, an indomitable spirit that made her a true champion.
“I referee for the OWHA, yes. I am one of their elite female officials who covers the PWHL and OUA games, as well as local Aurora Panthers and Barrie Sharks rep games.
Refereeing was never something I thought I would do. I started because of being traded from Brampton CWHL to Toronto was a bit of a waiting game. Which lead me to still want to be a part of the game while I was not playing, at the time.
I started doing games in Mississauga and then on the way to CWHL practices. Over the past few years I have done around 100 games a season. I see the game from a different view again. I have played and also coached PWHL hockey, Oakville in 2010-2013, and then I reffed.
Being a ref makes you appreciate the rules of the game and what the game is missing if there was not people who basically volunteered to ref! You do not always get treated the greatest but having played at a high level, I can skate the game and anticipate plays before they happen. I think it has made me a better skills coach and player because I have learned another key point a view of the game!”
Part of Bowman’s current sporting experiences also involves an aspect of entrepreneurship. As the founder of “Fit by Fire”, she continues to charge through life, ready to enlighten fitness enthusiasts with her style of training while also hosting boot camps and providing personal training while positively helping others push their limits and reach their goals.
Her raw talent as an athlete is only matched by her empathic effort to bring substantial impact to others through fitness. Also sharing her stories through blogging and social media, it definitely adds a more personal feeling. With great candor, Bowman discusses all aspects of being an athlete, from preparation to nutrition, even courageously discussing the occasional bad day, a symbolizing conviction that even the greatest of athletes are human.
Although Bowman’s hockey experience can sometimes mesh into her powerful, vivid and inspiring messages, it carries an appropriate tone. Bowman proves that the achievements of women beyond hockey can still matter because they still inspire others. The result is a positive one, while exemplifying the growing impact and importance of female athletes as positive role models.
“I have gained a few followers over the past couple of years! I would love for everyone to learn something from me and my experiences in athletics.
Fit by Fire is a mix of everything; hockey to fitness to mental work. I am fortunate to have so many great and maybe not so great experiences in my athletic career. I would love for followers to relate to me or learn from what I have and currently still go through.
If everyone could be a bit more healthy in their lives, then we all would be living longer and more functional lives daily! Life is a journey, and I want everyone to enjoy it to its fullest potential!”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
To learn more about Fit by Fire, please visit: http://www.fitbyfire.com/
Image obtained from Facebook