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My (extra long) hockey season in Great Britain

Yesterday (6th of July) I finished my 2018/19 hockey season on teams around Great Britain. It really ended with a bang. To show you all just how much hockey I played this season, I wanted to explain a little about each of my teams and why I joined them.

Caledonia Steel Queens – Ice hockey

This team is an all women’s university team. I started a little late with them as I already signed for Kilmarnock, a U20 co-ed team. I was unable to play for both due to Scottish ice hockey rules, so I had to make a hard choice. I’d not played a game for Kilmarnock (the season hadn’t started) and I’d been training as the only girl. Not an issue for me at all but I took the view of wanting more ice time rather than being an 18-year-old girl who isn’t built heavily. I took a realistic view for myself, so no one should back away from a team because they’re the only girl. I took a step back and looked at what I wanted for the season as well as pros and cons of each team.

What I achieved with the Steel Queens: I scored five goals and five assists in 16 games (my role is a grinder rather than top points player) so I was happy with this. We also won women’s nationals weekend going unbeaten on the day. I scored the first goal of the semi finals and had another goal on the day.

Kingston Diamonds – Ice hockey

They play in the English Ice Hockey Association (EIHA), which doesn’t have any teams in Scotland at premier/elite level (top two in UK). I worked hard at the premier level and earned a call up to the elite team. Hopefully I’ve proved myself enough to get some more games for the elite team but I’ll have to keep working hard and jump at every chance I get.

What I achieved with Diamonds: I put up a couple of points over the season but as a player I could really feel myself improving. I had people coming up to me at the end of the season saying how much I’d improved and this was a major win for me. We also pushed for a playoff spot and earned our place at playoff weekend. We ended up losing our game but after a hard fought battle we came away knowing we gave our all.

Great Britain Universities Team – Ice hockey

This team is the one that would compete at the FISU University World Championships if our team qualified. I joined the team a little late by getting recommended for the team by my coach rather than trying out as I wasn’t in the country for try outs. I got invited to Finland for a GBU camp and was the youngest player there. It was an amazing experience and definitely one I’m thankful to have under my belt. I was also selected for the GBU All-Star game against the International All-Stars, which was an honour. I hope to remain on the team next season and work towards my first University World Championship.

Glasgow Phoenix – Ball hockey

I originally started my season with Glasgow Ruckus, the team I originally started playing ball hockey with. A few things happened, but to cut a long story short we had a lot of players and ended up having half the team staying with Ruckus and half the team forming Phoenix. Honestly, I think it was the best outcome for both teams, even if we didn’t all realize it at the time. I don’t think there’s any hard feelings but I feel like both teams needed to be on my list of teams even if just for myself. I was part of the half that split away and formed Phoenix so that’s how I ended up with them.

What I achieved with Phoenix: At the start of the season I was chosen to be an ‘A’ by my captain, it was my first ever letter and hopefully not my last. We came into the league not really knowing what to expect as a new team, although we all had experience from the season before. There were I think three new teams, including ourselves so it was definitely going to be a challenge. We, as a team, finished 4th, although the top two teams are pretty much in a league of their own. We do feel like we challenged them and hopefully can push again next season. We were very close to a 3rd place finish, however it wasn’t meant to be, after two deducted points for a team we beat leaving the league, we couldn’t get the points up again. We also qualified for nationals finals weekend, after three gruelling qualifying tournaments, it felt good to make it through. This didn’t go our way either but again some great experiences for us all will help us push for more next season. On a personal note I felt like I had a major contribution in running the team, I even designed the full kit and logo!

Great Britatin Senior Ladies – Ball hockey

I played for the U20 team just last season and definitely didn’t expect anything more than experience when I tried out with the senior team. Turns out I was wrong—I ended up making the team after the first cuts. We’d had a record number of ladies trying out, I think there was about 70 of us trying to make a team of about 23. It was very intense and they really pushed us to our limits. They were still selecting the team down to the very last session, inviting new people, ice hockey players and everything just to get their squad perfect.

We didn’t find out our full squad until very close to flying out. I was very thankful to be a part of this team and gained some amazing experience from being a part of this team. By going to the senior worlds, I could see the massive step up from juniors, and I definitely felt young on the team, even though we had quite a few youngsters coming up from the junior set up. I now know just how hard I have to work to remain on the squad and earn my place on the top lines.

Nottingham Vikings – Ball hockey

The Nottingham Vikings are a very interesting story, which is probably why I left them until the end. I met my coach on a trip that I really shouldn’t have been on going by age. I’d made the U20 Great Britain ball hockey team but I was in Canada so I hadn’t played ball hockey all season. To give me a bit of a warm up before the championships, I was allowed to go on a U13/U16 development camp in Slovakia with the mini GB team.

So here I was, almost 18 years old, on a team with 11/12/13 year olds (there was a few older ones but I was the oldest by a couple of years). The parents originally didn’t know why I was there but when they found out they were absolutely amazing with me. I took all the kids under my wing and feel like I took a sort of parental role when on the court with them—I guess just looking out for them, making sure they were okay and standing up for them when they needed it.

We played against an older team that really tried to take advantage of the smaller players and then me as a female. I ended up punching the boy in his cage (after he’d swung his stick at me three times, pinned me against the boards, and then my 12-year-old linemate jumped in to protect me and when the older boy turned on him, I swung. Nobody’s touching my linemate). I was voted Parents’ Player of the tournament, very much a surprise to me as I was just there for the training. I really loved that trip and still talk to the parents and kids from the trip.

I’d stayed with the coach for a few days before everyone else arrived and we went to Auschwitz and saw some other parts of Poland before going to Slovakia. I contacted him after the trip to see if he’d have space for me on his roster, I’d loved the way he coached and really got along well with him as a person, so it seemed perfect. The only issue was the five-hour drive each way for a home game. We discussed this some more and agreed that I’d sign and commit to playing but not training, although I made it along to some training too. I also got him his top goal scorer too by having him sign my other Phoenix teammate, Matt Mundt.

This worked out really well actually because we ended up dating a few weeks after he signed for Vikings. It meant road trips together and it was a very fun thing to be a part of for sure.

With the Vikings I was the only girl on the team. I loved it, the guys really looked out for me and everyone on the team was amazing. We were a force to be reckoned with. We ended up going undefeated in league and playoff games, winning both the league and playoff titles. It was absolutely amazing to be a part of and I can’t wait for next season to start.

Most people have to go months without hockey, but hey hockey? I’ll see you in four weeks! With some extra dedication and some extra long seasons, I can’t wait to see what I can do with my hockey in the future.

If you stuck around long enough to read this, I just want to thank you and hope you enjoyed it. I’ve got another piece in the making for the senior world championships which will hopefully be more advice and information based.


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