This season, the Mount Allison women’s hockey program is growing and changing faster than new head coach Warren Mason can skate.
Due to the growth of former head coach Zach Bell’s family, a replacement was necessary. Former assistant coach Mason took over the head coaching position, while Bell took the assistant position.
Throughout the past five years, the pair has had a powerful dynamic, the result of filling their coaching roles in a friendly, relaxed manner. This is highlighted by the perception that the team views them as “co-head coaches,” forward Kara Anthony said.
“There has been more to deal with being head coach, but it’s been really good,” Mason said. “[Mason] is very goal-oriented. There is one communal goal, and that’s something we’ve never had. It was always known, but never vocalized,” Anthony said.
The team’s objective is to qualify for nationals. In a league where any team can win on any given night, it is more than possible. Mason’s objectives are “to get better every single game, find things to continually get better [at], and if we do that, we will reach our end goal.”
“There is a lot of parity, there [have] already been upsets to start the season, and teams you thought would be leading the way are not. It’s only a couple of games in, but it’s clear that if you don’t show up, you’re going to lose,” Mason said.
Last year’s MVP, Keri Martin, returns in goal for her final season. “[Martin] is always solid, the team can always rely on her,” captain Mackenzie Lalonde said. This factor is huge in a league where the little things matter. With “such a tight league, we can easily lose a game by not giving it 110 per cent,” Lalonde said. Lalonde looks to lead by example, giving it her all in her final season with the Mounties.
Not only have the Mounties built a veteran team to reach their goals for the season, but the program has done a great job to prepare for turnover in the following year. With six players leaving after this season, the program has recruited multiple forwards to commit to the team. This will create a balance to continually foster the growth of the program.
“It’s really important to see where these players have gone in their lives, and how successful they’ve been, as they are new role models to learn from,” said Mason.
For its players, hockey is much more than just a sport, and the yearly reunion exemplifies this. “I think [the reunion is] a great idea, and when I graduate and I’m an alum, it’ll be something I look forward to because of all the friendships I’ve made, and to be able to reconnect with them after so many years is amazing,” said Anthony.
The hockey team is about more than just winning. “It’s about the growth of the individual people in the room, watching them come in and seeing where they are now. You smile and you laugh, and it’s amazing to watch the people they turn into, and it’s really nice, to be a part of that,” Mason said.