The phrase is used a lot to represent the fan base at Concordia. While that may very well be true, to be an athlete at the university brings a whole new level of Stinger Pride.
For proof of that, look no farther than the captain of the women’s hockey team at Concordia, Andrea Dolan. The 24-year-old Montreal native is the undisputed leader of her team, and her pride about being a Stinger and the captain of the team cannot be measured. Dolan grew up in Montreal West.
Now in her fourth year with the Stingers, Dolan says that the feelings that were there when she started are still there today.
“I still feel overwhelmed with honor and pride every game when I put on the jersey,” she said about wearing the colours of the team she watched while growing up.
Named as captain at the beginning of the season, she acknowledges her role in leading the team, especially with the influx of young players on the Stingers this season.
“This team means everything to me and to be chosen to represent them is not only an honour but a responsibility that I take seriously. I am proud to be a Stinger and I hope that as a leader I am able to instill those feelings in younger players who will go on to one day be captains of this team,” she said. “I look at the captains I have had in my years here and I feel I learned a lot from them about what kind of a leader I did and didn’t want to be. I try to lead by example on the ice, whether it is the championship game, or a practice at the beginning of the season. You have to earn respect and trust by what you do,” she continued.
“We have great leadership,” said Stingers coach Les Lawton during the Theresa Humes tournament. “Andrea really leads by example on and off the ice,” he said.
Last year, Dolan was named Concordia’s academic achievement award winner at The Buzzies.
“It is nice to be recognized for things outside of hockey. It is important to be a well-rounded individual and I have dreams and goals that extend beyond hockey so I appreciate having those achievements recognized,” Dolan, who is taking a specialization in psychology.
Most of this generation of women’s hockey players all have stories of playing hockey with boys at a young age instead of ringuette. While now minor hockey leagues around the world have leagues for girls, it wasn’t always the case. Dolan said that she faced a lot of adversity when she made her decision to try-out with the boy’s intercity team at the age of 10 and ended up making the team.
“Many of the parents weren’t happy. They felt that I was taking the spot of a boy who actually ‘belonged’ there. The coach was very supportive though and never gave in to the parents complaints… Even the administration wasn’t pleased. They felt that there was a ringuette team for the girls and that if I wanted to play hockey I could play in the house league.”
Dolan also mentioned that when the boys scored, there was a normal goal celebration, but when she scored, for the first while, there wouldn’t be anything said to her.
Before coming to Concordia, Dolan played at John Abbott College for two years, and played two years for the Montreal Wingstar (which has since been renamed the Axion). When she went to the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL), she was one of the youngest players in the league because the league is and was predominantly for players after they finished their university careers.
“It was an amazing experience. I got to play on a team with and against girls who had so much experience. I played either with or against most of the National Team members,” she said. “I remember being in the National finals one year against the Calgary Oval and I was back checking and sort of panicked when I looked up and was like ‘Oh my god, I’m back checking Cassie Campbell!'”
Women’s hockey is currently in a growth period, and is seeing steps being made to gain more and more exposure, and the NWHL is at the forefront. Although, for most, women’s hockey is only a hot topic every four years when the Olympics are taking place.
“The NWHL is blossoming, players from the States are coming up to play here. We are not even close, yet, however, to where we should be,” she said.
“The NWHL has the best players in North America, and yet often the players pay thousands of dollars over a season. The league is working hard at gaining exposure, but at times have little help in doing so. The game is not the priority it should be,” she said.
The league has made one key mindset in the heads of women’s hockey players though, according to Dolan.
“It is important for little girls to have female heroes, and have dreams of the ‘big leagues’ in women’s hockey,” she said.
“We are still pioneers of the sport and I think that it takes time, but that women in this sport are determined to do whatever it takes to help this sport grow.”
Stingers Struggles Continue
What was supposed to be a new start for the Stingers women’s hockey team has quickly turned into a never-ending nightmare. The Stingers followed up a win against the Ottawa Gee-Gees and two wins in the Theresa Humes tournament with three straight conference losses to Carleton and the third on Friday night at the Ed Meagher arena.
Bianca Chartrand opened the scoring for the Stingers in the first period, but the Stingers allowed four second period goals, falling 4-1. Meggy Hatin-Leveill