Get ready for the Women's Ice Hockey Championships
Tell us about yourself and your ice hockey career so far
I’m Sarah, I’m 32 and I work in mental health research. I have two dogs and a 1-year-old daughter! I’ve loved sport my whole life and have tried to play as many sports as I could, but hockey is my first love. I grew up in Canada, but I’ve been living in Australia since 2011.
I started playing hockey when I was around 7 or 8, but I started skating as soon as I could walk. Hockey is such an important part of Canadian culture, so I lived and breathed hockey. I played recreationally during primary school, then played the highest level of women’s hockey in my home province. I took a short break when I moved away to start university and when I had my daughter but have been playing for over 20 years. Since moving to Australia, I’ve played for my club team the Monarchs in a mixed-gender league. I play for Melbourne Ice Women in the Australian Women’s Ice Hockey League (AWIHL) and will also be playing for Victoria in this weekend’s national tournament.
What are your earliest memories of playing sport/ice hockey? Did you have any sporting role models growing up?
Hockey is everywhere in Canada – I have so many hockey memories from when I was very young. I would go skating with my family on outdoor rinks in winter, I would practice shooting pucks in my driveway all year round, and I would watch hockey every Saturday night with my dad. If I wasn’t at the rink, I was probably playing hockey in the street with friends.
My favourite player growing up was Hayley Wickenheiser. She was the captain of Canada’s national women’s team and is a very highly respected player. There wasn’t much televised women’s sport when I was growing up, so I loved that Hayley was iconic and everyone talked about her as an elite athlete at a time where female athletes weren’t often a focus. She went on to go to med school after her playing career and now she works as a doctor and also works for a professional men’s ice hockey team. Amazing!
How does it feel to represent your state? I've heard it's been 12 years since Victoria was able to play - why is that, and how does it feel to be putting on the jersey again now?
I’m so proud to represent Victoria – it’s been my chosen home for the last 11 years and I love living here. This tournament has been on a hiatus due to the growth of the Australian Women’s Ice Hockey League (AWIHL). The AWIHL is a national level competition that runs all summer and Victoria’s team, Melbourne Ice Women, travel around Australia to compete against the other capital cities. The return of this tournament while the AWIHL continues to grow signals that women’s hockey has grown both in popularity and quality.
What would you tell a young person who wants to be involved in ice hockey but doesn't know where to start?
Hockey is really fun, fast paced and you get about 15 instant friends when you join a team. If you’re not sure where to start, you can come and watch the women compete this weekend, or attend an AWIHL game this summer to watch Australia’s best female players compete. You can get a feel for the game, and for our community.
There are also lots of ways you can try hockey! If you’ve never skated before, you might like to try out a public skate at one of Victoria’s three rinks. You can go also sign up for a hockey program where all equipment is provided. You learn the basics like passing and shooting and build up from there.
If you could change one thing about your sport, what would it be?
There are so many things I love about hockey, and it’s given me so much. I love the speed of the game, the way it brings people together and my teammates are some of my closest friends.
But, like many other women’s sports, it’s not given the resources or promotion it deserves. Female players are often pushing for equal ice, resources and respect while juggling jobs, study or families. Many of my teammates give a lot back to the sport to ensure that there are pathways for female players coming up, and so that women’s teams can continue to compete at an elite level. If women’s hockey is given equal support, this would allow female players to focus on their training and performance and would help to grow the game and level of competition.
I’m excited that women’s sport has been gaining increasing attention and support, and I hope the same is true for women’s ice hockey in Victoria so that it is a welcoming, respected and high-quality place for female athletes play, whether at a development or elite level.
The 2022 Women’s National Championship is set to run from 20 October 2022 to 23 October 2022 at the O’Brien Icehouse in Melbourne, Victoria.
Tuesday 18 October, 2022