Humble and gracious, Vanessa (Vinny) Davidson conducts herself with a great respect for women’s hockey.
Success in women’s hockey, does not only involves hard work, but also being surrounded by leaders that can help to inspire and motivate.
In that regard, Davidson has been blessed to be guided by two of the finest coaches in women’s hockey: Peter Smith of the McGill Martlets, and Patrick Rankine of the Montreal Stars.
“The coach is your number one leader. You look up to your coach. I was close with Peter Smith. He changed me as a hockey player and made me better. Patrick gave me a role [last season]. I took it and went with it.”
As a side note, Rankine was also an assistant coach when Davidson competed with the Quebec Avalanche of the former National Women’s Hockey League.
Compared to her time with the Avalanche, Davidson would be the first to say that the women’s game has changed.
“Drastically. I played with Quebec in 2004-05 and the league was dispersed and not as strong. This year, the league is the strongest it will ever be. The talent on every team is astronomical.”
Davidson is also an educator. One of her first experiences was working with autistic children.
“I was working at my mom’s school. It was the end of the school year. It was a good experience to work with someone more challenging. Something different, something I enjoyed.”
Currently, she is a Physical Education teacher, and the favorite aspect of her teaching duties includes the following. “That would be seeing kids enjoying PE. Sometimes you get kids that are not very into PE to love it. They get out of their comfort zone.”
Having finished third in scoring on the Montreal Stars, her impressive 49 point total was double the points registered by the leading scorers with Team Alberta and the Toronto Furies.
Despite graduating from McGill as the Martlets all-time leading scorer —since broken, and having won the Clarkson Cup, humble Davidson does not see herself as a superstar.
She is quick to recognize the efforts of others in making her successful. “I play with superstars. I am on a line with Meghan Agosta. It is an honor to play with her. She is easy to play with and I respect her. She has respect in me and believed in me as a player. We connected so well. I play for the love of the game. This is it for me.”
In terms of championships, Davidson holds a unique triple: a CIS national title, the Clarkson Cup, and gold at the Winter Universiade. Although she has scored the game winning goal at the 2012 Clarkson Cup, Davidson is self-effacing. “I am not looking at certain goals [scored]. I am just happy we won it. We deserved it. We had a great team all year long.”
Her opportunity to don the Team Canada jersey and represent her country came with the gold medal she earned at the 2009 Winter Universiade.
“It was something I always dreamed of. Being able to go to China and win gold, I will never forget. It was special, and I am proud of it.” There was also a cultural adjustment to make. “Culturally, it was different, that’s for sure. It was my first time there. Our head coach was Peter Smith [also Davidson’s head coach at McGill]. The previous spring, he was in China for the 2008 Women’s World Championships. He saw different things and knew what to expect.”
An even greater source of pride was the fact that she was able to accomplish the gold medal win in China with three of her teammates from McGill.
“Alyssa Cecere, Cathy Chartrand and Carly Hill were on that team. Cech [as Alyssa is colloquially known], Carly and I were linemates. It was fun to play with girls I knew. Carly, I grew up playing hockey with. To be with 3 McGill teammates was something really nice. An honor for all four of us.”
Heading into the 2012-13 CWHL season, Davidson is surrounded by many familiar faces from her tenure with the Martlets. McGill alumnae Charline Labonte, Ann-Sophie Bettez and Cathy Chartrand are all rookies with the defending Clarkson Cup champions. The opportunity to reunite is an added bonus for the season.
“Oh, definitely. Bettez and I were on a line together for three years. She is a fun girl to play with. It is great to play together again. Charlie [as Charline Labonte is affectionately known] is another great backstop. Cathy Chartrand is our beast on the backstop. She is someone we will need against Boston and Brampton, with their big girls. She will be great for us.”
One constant in her women’s hockey career has been the strong friendships she has forged with teammates. Davidson was one of the Star players that attended the wedding of Meghan Agosta and QMJHL goaltending coach Marco Marciano. For Davidson, the team is like a family.
“Definitely. The team is extremely close. There is a lot of cohesion on the team, everyone gets along. To get along in a seven month season is not easy. You start with the coach, our leader. It is a good team, a fun team. Definitely a family,” proudly proclaimed Davidson.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”