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How Playing Hockey My Whole Life Impacted Me as A Young Adult

Growing up with two brothers, I was always surrounded by sports. Specifically, we were at the rink. I can’t remember a winter weekend when I wasn’t at the rink, sitting in the stands with my parents, watching one of my brothers play.

I’ll never forget the day that I was outside with them while they played hockey on our driveway. Since I was the little sister, they, of course, put goalie equipment on me and started shooting pucks at me. Thankfully I came out unharmed, ran into the house and told my mom I wanted to play hockey. As traumatizing as that experience might sound, I’m forever grateful for it.

I played hockey from six years old until I was 18 years old when I graduated high school. Those 12 years helped me grow not only as a player, but as an individual and as a young woman. First of all, I truly believe that playing hockey helped my independence, given that it is a male-dominated sport. I started off playing in a boys’ league with only one other girl on my team. As a young kid, this didn’t scare me at all; in fact, I embraced it. I remember when we were so young, that rather than our last name, we could pick what we wanted the back of each of our jerseys to say. I chose “Chick with Stick” because I wanted everyone to know I was a girl on that team (as if the long ponytail coming out of my helmet didn’t give it away). I think I did this because I grew up watching my brothers play without a single girl on their team, so once I was on my own team, I wanted it to be known.

I eventually moved on to play in a girls-only league, as I had made a few female hockey friends and we were getting old enough that the boys' leagues were getting more and more competitive. I stayed with this league for the rest of my minor hockey career and started playing at the representative level when I was 12. Aside from the boost in independence, I’d like to think playing a team sport for the majority of my life truly impacted the young adult and woman I am today. I’ve learned valuable life skills such as teamwork, time management and that when I truly enjoy something, it feels great to put my all into it.

However, one of the most valuable lessons that playing representative hockey taught me was to stand up for myself and my teammates. Picture this: a room full of 16, 17 and 18 year-old girls who see each other six times a week. There’s bound to be some drama, right? Of course, there was. I learned to deal with this drama respectfully with my best interests at heart, but also keeping my team and our dynamic in mind. What I think I’ll truly value from sticking up for myself are my various interactions with my coaches. I’m thankful to say that I have never had a coach that ruined hockey for me, but I did have multiple issues in feeling disrespected by an authority figure. I’ll never truly find out if this was because I was a younger girl that looked up to her coaches, or if it was purely for the love of the game, but I believe that coaches across all sports often take advantage of their power when speaking to their players. Recognizing the difference between constructive criticism and a personal attack against a minor hockey player was definitely needed.

These few occasions taught me to stand up for myself, mainly as a woman who falls under a man’s authority. I stand by the commitment that I’ll never allow myself to be spoken to as an inferior or be belittled, especially when doing something I know that I am good at and that I love.

All in all, I’m forever grateful for my 12 years of minor hockey for helping me grow into the woman I am today. I’ve found my strengths and weaknesses in so much more than just the sport and have gotten to learn my worth as a team player.

Olivia Egan

Wilfrid Laurier '23

Third year Psychology student at WLU
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