Regarded as one of the most celebrated players in the unfolding narrative of Falkland Islands ice hockey, Kathy Aguilera belongs to the first generation of female stars. Revered for her leadership, Aguilera, originally from Chile, enjoys the privilege of team captaincy. Representing an exceptional hallmark, adding another dimension of prestige in a career filled with potential for even greater glories, hockey is a year-round passion, also participating in Dek and Inline.
Although the initial curiosity regarding hockey could have been derailed due to a slight language barrier, an element of teamwork set an empowering tone. With a friend approaching Grant Budd, iconic for his support of the game in Falkland Islands, his encouragement provided a highly positive first impression, setting the stage for Aguilera to develop into a star player.
“I got interested in hockey by pure luck. In 2015, I had finished school. Me and my friend were going home and we walked past the sports hall. I had seen some kids skating around with some sticks.
Although I did not know what they were doing, I wanted to try. My English was not really good at that time and I was a bit shy. Yet, my friend asked Grant Budd for me and it was not an impediment for him to accept me. We borrowed some skates and a stick from the equipment cupboard and off I was learning how to play hockey.”
Akin to many of her teammates on the national team, Aguilera first excelled on a playing surface not consisting of ice. The 2015-16 season marked the beginning of her Inline journey. Since then, clubs that have enjoyed Aguilera on their roster have included Beasts, Scorpions and Ducks. Worth noting, she has appeared in the Russel Smith Memorial Trophy tournament twice. First in 2019 with the Beasts, a team that also featured Grant Budd, while 2022 saw Aguilera in the paraphernalia of the Ducks
Making the switch to the ice proved fulfilling, although the initial experience resulted in one understandable adjustment. As many players in the Southern Hemisphere are accustomed to the Inline game, attributed to the fact that numerous regions do not have ice rinks, extensive practice sessions at tournaments represent the reality of available ice time. In learning to develop her technique, the biggest challenge involved the stop, requiring an efficient use of balance and finesse. Upon finding her stride, the combination of commitment and hard work yielded positive results as the puck handling emerged as a favorite facet of her on-ice game. Having also brought many worthwhile rewards involves the social aspect of the game. From the common thread of beginning inline to the rite of passage found in gracing the ice, the journey provides a shared sense of accomplishment among all players that Aguilera encounters.
“The transition does have its hard parts. For me the only hard part about transitioning into ice was learning how to stop again. Plus, what I like the most of ice hockey is how much easier it is to carry the puck on the ice. Of course, getting to know new people and swapping shirts is also enjoyable.”
Enjoying success in recent tournaments, the C on Aguilera’s jersey, featuring the highly popular Rockhopper penguin motif, enhances such exceptional triumphs. One place that holds a significant place of meaning for Aguilera is Puntas Arenas. The capital city of Chile’s Magallanes Region, also recognized as an Antarctic gateway city, has become one of the hubs for the game in the Southern Hemisphere. As a side note, Puntas Arenas also brought a team further south, participating in a pond hockey tournament on Navarino Island, the southernmost commune in the world.
Home to the 2018 MEGA Patagonian tournament, Puntas Arenas marked the first appearance of the Falkland Islands women’s team. Holding a prized spot on the historic roster, the event provided Aguilera with the first chapter. Worth noting, August 2023 saw Aguilera and her teammates return for the Winter Cup Classic facing off versus the host Puntas Arenas Warriors in the championship game.
Undeniably, her presence allowed Falkland Islands the opportunity to excel, prevailing in a 5-4 final, one of the most emotional victories for the nascent program. Certainly, the triumph may inspire a new generation to place stick in hand, a key source of admiration involving Aguilera as team captain.
Reflecting on the captaincy, helping launch a lineage of leadership that provides a cornerstone for the program, Aguilera remains graceful. Preferring to praise the players, it stands as the best example of her leadership. Recognizing the collaborative effort crucial in building the popularity of women’s hockey in the archipelago, Aguilera’s sentiments set the tone for the program’s culture.
“It was a complete honour to be chosen for that position. The ladies did not really need a captain to keep them together or doing well because every single one of them was exceptionally good at team work. They were amazing players and I am just so proud of the effort and passion they put into every game. I could not have been part of a better team.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”