As the greatest player to have suited up for Colby College, Meaghan Sittler (who logged a program best 199 career points) is still making an impression today. With gifts of compassion and encouragement that go beyond the ice, Sittler has dedicated herself to unlocking the potential of others in her career as a life coach.
Back near the dawn of the millennium, Sittler was one of the most intriguing figures in women’s hockey. Born in Mississauga, Ontario, this second generation star actually suited up for the US National Women’s Ice Hockey Team, an unprecedented move at the time. (A few years ago, Canadian Kelly Babstock tried out for the US National Team)
While her talent and engaging personality made her one to watch on the ice, the fact that she was the daughter of one of the Toronto Maple Leafs greatest-ever players simultaneously brought attention to the incipient game. Her remarkable talents resulted in Sittler even being featured in an article in Sports Illustrated (cover date March 18, 1996), http://www.si.com/vault/1996/03/18/211021/ice-in-her-veins-hard-work-and-heredity-have-made-meaghan-sittler-the-top-womens-player
Playing at Colby College with the likes of California resident Barbara Gordon and Reagan Carey, currently the Director of Women’s Ice Hockey for USA Hockey, Sittler was the top scorer in women’s collegiate hockey during the 1995-96 season. In reflecting on those treasured times, there are many elements that Sittler enjoyed,
“I miss the teammates, the friendships we had. We were all in order, working towards the same goal. It was a great time together, all at a level that we were striving for, looking to overcome challenges. They are all things that I miss a lot. Today, when you play hockey, it is different, as your team changes all the time.
Personally, I miss having those goals. Striving for something athletic, it was something attainable. Today, being healthy and in shape is good, but I miss athletics.”
Having also played for the Brampton Thunder in the former NWHL, Sittler was part of a generation that helped generate awareness about women’s hockey. Despite contributing to a great chapter in the game, one where said game truly experienced a renaissance, Sittler is quick to acknowledge another group that helped accomplish such a reality,
“I feel that many people behind the scenes laid the foundation. We had many volunteers, people that were not even playing at the time. We were fortunate that there were people like them to support us. People who devoted their time, I feel that we benefited from people being able to do that.”
While the game continues to be a constant process, always growing and improving, the impact of such growth is not lost on Sittler. Compared to when Sittler played collegiately, one of the biggest changes is an NCAA-sanctioned tournament, culminating in the Frozen Four title game. Another change is at the IIHF level, where Sittler comments on the great significance of international players,
“Today, the game has grown so much. Players are much more physical and the shape that they are in too. Also, it is great to see different countries playing, as the gap is closing. Other women are now getting opportunities, and there are more options in the game.”
One of the most unique aspects during Sittler’s career was the fact that she was among one of the first second generation female stars to play the game. The daughter of Hockey Hall of Famer, and former Toronto Maple Leafs captain, Darryl Sittler, hockey was certainly in her blood.
Upon reflection, Sittler would be among the first women in hockey with family ties to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Since Sittler played, the number of second (and third) generation female hockey stars with ties to the Toronto Maple Leafs are remarkable.
Over the years, she would be followed by several other players, including third-generation star Gillian Apps (whose grandfather was the captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs). The great granddaughter of King Clancy, Laura Stacey has competed for the Canadian national team at the U18 and U22 levels. Jaclyn Arbour, whose grandfather, Al coached the New York Islanders to four Stanley Cup wins, also hoisted the Cup as a player with the Maple Leafs.
Former Maple Leafs first round pick Luke Richardson has seen his daughter Morgan compete at Cornell University. Having recently graduated from the University of New Hampshire, Hannah Armstrong’s father spent one season with the Maple Leafs. Katie Fergus, who won a College Hockey America postseason champion with the Robert Morris Colonials, is the daughter of former Toronto Maple Leafs alternate captain Tom Fergus.
In the Sittler family, Meaghan was not the only one who suited up for the US National Team. Her brother, Ryan had the opportunity to compete with the United States at the 1991-92 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships, even being featured on a hockey card in the 1992 Upper Deck High Number series.
Although both Ryan and Meaghan were born in the Greater Toronto Area, their father’s trade to the Philadelphia Flyers saw them lay new family roots south of the border. For brother and sister, the chance to have represented USA Hockey remains a proud bond between the two,
“My family moved to the States when I was five. I became a US citizen after living there for 10 years and was first involved with the US U-18 program. I am definitely proud to share the experience of playing for the US with my brother.
It was such a great experience and an honor to be able to do that. The experiences of being on that team, especially traveling. Playing for Team USA, what stood out was my first game, putting on the jersey.”
Bringing her career full circle was the opportunity to grace the ice at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre. With the Toronto Maple Leafs serving as host franchise for the 2000 NHL All-Star Game, an exhibition women’s hockey game was among a week of All-Star festivities at the ACC.
Dubbed the TSN Challenge (and broadcast on national television), it featured the renewal of rivalries between the Canadian and US National Teams, while stimulating interest in the 2000 IIHF Women’s Worlds, being hosted in Misssissauga. While Sittler was donning the US jersey, fans in attendance definitely held a soft spot in their hearts for the daughter of one of their beloved hockey heroes. To have a member of the Sittler family on the ice during a magical time in Toronto only added to the excitement of All-Star Week.
“I remember when we came to play Team Canada in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre. We played in front of over 14,000 fans in that building. Even though we lost 6-0, the energy there was amazing.”
Laying roots in the Greater Toronto Area, Meaghan is also the mother of a one-year old son. Among Meaghan’s work, a labor of love was establishing the Boogha Boogha Inspiration Studio in Lorne Park, offering workshops with the goals to create positive transformation. Bringing an even greater sincerity to such efforts is the fact that the loss of her mother to cancer helped her gain a much more profound appreciation for life and the need to make each day what we make it.
Having studied Sociology, along with social work and energy healing, Sittler is engaging in work as a life coach: http://meaghansittler.ca/. As a former elite athlete, she understands how positive thought and the ability to overcome fears and stay committed to what one wants are just as important as the athletic ability required to succeed.
“When I studied for my Masters Degree, I also studied Social Work along with energy healing. I have always been fascinated with power of the mind to unlock our potential, to use our thoughts and align our goals in life.
As a hockey player, it was part of my skill set. After hockey, I understood that it not just applied to sport. Some athletes have tons of talent, but do not have the great mindset, that mental edge, and cannot go as far as they would like. The higher you get, the tougher it is to maintain. Currently, I do work with athletes, and it is also great to be able to empower people”
Devoted to helping others reach the goals that they wish to achieve, Sittler is helping her clients craft a genuine portrait, helping them reimagine their potential and persevere. Understanding that her own success on-ice also meant feeling good about one’s self and having the inner confidence to produce the desired results, she aims to positively change the lives of her clients in a way that is comfortable and enjoyable to them. It is among the aspects that she enjoys about serving as a life coach,
“I think being able to get people to understand their own potential and how to access it is important. To teach people that they have more control and influence on their own life, I also try to help others be able to create real change and go for the things they want.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”