Out of all the activities Hailey had tried, whether it be gymnastics, dance or soccer, it was hockey that won her heart, “I felt like I did all these other different sports before hockey but it never did anything for me. I wanted something more extreme.” Ultimately, it was hockey that helped Hailey to finally find a place to call home.
Growing up she moved a lot, living in various places across Canada saying good bye to good friend’s time and again. After arriving in Toronto she started going to school and felt isolated and didn’t feel accepted by her peers. “Then one day I got pulled out of class by Tony Wray and he asked if I’d like to be in HEROS and I said ‘yeah, yeah’.” Once Hailey got her start at HEROS things began to change for her, “I got into the HEROS program and that really settled us and helped me stay here because that was a good program for me.” No matter what city you live in a pad of ice stays the same.
Hailey’s skill on the ice was clear from her first practice with HEROS, coaches even asking her to demonstrate drills. The sense of community and belonging Hailey received from HEROS was just one benefit of the program. From day one with HEROS she was allowed to be a leader raising her own confidence which she carried with her off the ice. That first day still resonates with Hailey, explaining, “my favourite moment was my first time I was there and I just had all my equipment on. I had a giant smile on my face.” Once she dove into the HEROS program the impact it had on her was tremendous, both on and off the ice. “I think HEROS brightens up everybody’s day. It’s like another family to go to. It’s a good childhood memory and you can keep going back to it and see all the children, the people you knew, I think it’s just something great to have in someone’s life.”
At HEROS we live by the moto that that the opportunity to play should not reserved for certain groups and not others, hockey is for everybody. Girls in particular may not feel accepted, included or experience the same opportunities their male counterparts have. “I think HEROS encourages all genders to participate. Most girls don’t play hockey, but in the Toronto HEROS chapter 50% are girls playing, which is great.” In February Hailey and three other girls from HEROS attended the 2019 Willie O’Ree weekend in Philadelphia as part of the first all-girls delegation from HEROS. Look for our April Along the Boardsissue for all the exciting details from the 2019 Willie O’Ree Weekend.
Hailey is setting her sights on a career as a Trauma Respondent Paramedic. She wants a career that appeals to her interest in helping people but also satisfies her interest in “extreme” activities. Hailey acknowledges that in life, both on and off the ice, you must be moving forward to reach your goals and that success isn’t built alone. We’re very proud to have been a part of that journey with Hailey.