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A small player with a tough personality

by Nicholas Di Giovanni October 18, 2016
A small player with a tough personality

Women’s hockey player Tracy-Ann Lavigne talks about being a captain and her playing techniques

Despite her small stature, Concordia Stingers women’s hockey captain Tracy-Ann Lavigne has a big personality. The five-foot-three centre is completing her fifth and final year with the team, and beginning her first year as captain.

Lavigne has a never-back-down attitude. On the ice, she’s a grinder and not afraid to get physical with her opponents in the corners. Likewise, she doesn’t back away from a challenge off the ice, whether it be in the gym or the classroom.

“I’m a go-getter. I have to go get [what I want], and I won’t quit until I get it,” Lavigne said. “I know I have to work hard in the gym and on the ice.”

Lavigne was one of two co-captains last season, and this season her teammates voted for her to become full-time captain.

Some players change when handed a leadership role, as the task of commanding a group can skew their personality. Lavigne, however, has no intention of changing her style now that she’s captain.

“I’m really proud [to be captain], but it won’t change how I’ll play,” Lavigne said. “I will always stay the same person, and I will do what I have to do.”

“I lead by example but I can also talk,” Lavigne said. “I like to communicate a lot with my teammates [on the ice].”

As the captain of a team, Lavigne’s attitude and emotions rub off on her teammates, so she said she tries to stay as positive as possible.

“I’m never negative towards my teammates,” Lavigne said.  “I’ve always been positive because I don’t like when someone’s negative next to me because it will bring me down. Now that I have the ‘C,’ I have to always be positive, but it’s easy for me.”

For student-athletes, a positive attitude is not always easy to maintain. Between studying and playing hockey, Lavigne said her teammates often get overwhelmed and need a boost at times. Lavigne is the first to console a teammate and try to put a smile on their face.

On the ice, she is the one to tap a teammate on the knee or offer a fist bump and words of encouragement. When her teammates make mistakes, she reminds them to put it behind them and learn from them. Off the ice, if Lavigne sees a teammate in a funk, she will go talk to them and try to cheer them up.

This is Lavigne’s fifth and final season with the Concordia Stingers. Photo by Brianna Thicke.

“I sit with them sometimes if it’s really intense. I just talk to them, and I just try to cheer them up,” Lavigne said.

Lavigne describes herself as a “goofball” on the ice with her teammates. After learning how to skate at the age of two, Lavigne played boys hockey until she reached the Bantam level at 13-years-old.

Girls playing boys hockey before their teenage years is not uncommon, however, Lavigne faced adversity along the way.

“I had to [be tough]. I was the only girl—I had to prove myself all the time,” Lavigne said. “I would always have to be ready to work hard.”

The Montreal native was much smaller than most of the boys she played against, and she is still unafraid to go up against men now. When asked if she would like to go on the ice with the men’s hockey team, who was practicing during the interview, Lavigne seemed excited about the challenge.

“Seriously, I wouldn’t mind going there and trying to go hard against them,” Lavigne said with a smile.

Lavigne only played against other girls once she started playing at the higher levels. She played Bantam and Midget AA hockey for the Canadiennes de Montreal before playing at Dawson College for three years.

Lavigne said this adversity and the constant need to prove herself is reflected in her style of play. She admits she is tough to play against and isn’t worried about going up against bigger opponents. She is the player on the team who will do the physical work so her teammates can get the puck in an open space.

“I’m the grinder. I’m the one that’s going to go in the corners and won’t be easy to [play against]. I just want to get the puck out when I’m there,” Lavigne said.

Lavigne spoke about her rugged style of play with a sense of pride. She added she will not become physical enough to merit a penalty. For such a tough player, her penalty time—56 penalty minutes in 85 games with the Stingers before this season—is surprisingly low.

Lavigne has been with the Stingers since the 2012-2013 season. The finance student said she is happy and “feels at home going to Concordia.”

By the end of this season, Lavigne will have played over 100 games wearing the Stingers maroon and gold. Over her career, she has had many great memories, but the one that sticks with her the most is friendship.

“I’ve been here five years so I see people come and go, and I meet new people,” Lavigne said. “All the friendships that we make here are what I appreciate and what I like the most.”

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