As Canada’s capital region is quickly developing into a white-hot market for women’s ice hockey, it is only fitting that one of the game’s builders is a homegrown talent. Jaclyn Hawkins, who graduated from the University of Connecticut as the Huskies all-time leading scorer, is the president and owner of Women's Hockey Life.
Raised in Manotick, Hawkins played one year of high school hockey at South Carleton High School in the Ottawa area with Chelsea Grills, who would go on to have a great collegiate career at St. Lawrence University. Currently, Grills is an assistant coach with the Vermont Catamounts.
Hawkins' childhood, which was mostly spent playing pond hockey in Manotick, provides a great source of memories. “Playing pond hockey in my parents' and friends' backyards. Street hockey games during the warmer months were up there as well.
“I just remember coming home from school, eating a snack that my mom had made for my siblings and I, then taking off and not coming home until it was dark. We wouldn't be able to feel our toes or fingers, but we didn't care. I still have a smile on my face today thinking back to those times.”
Her motivation in creating Women’s Hockey Life emanated from a season playing hockey in Europe. “A lot of free time while playing overseas in Zurich, Switzerland, and a conversation with a man by the name of Graeme Roustan. I was sitting in a restaurant in downtown Zurich with Graeme and my roommate, Amanda Shaw, when Graeme asked us what our plans were once we returned home. I hadn't thought that far ahead. I had no idea. He essentially threw out ideas that I explored, altered slightly, ran with and is what is now called Women's Hockey Life today.”
Of note, Hawkins and Shaw currently compete in the CWHL. Hawkins has been a member of the Boston Blades since their inaugural season. Shaw competes with the Toronto Furies and is also one of the leaders in helping to organize events for Hockey Helps the Homeless.
One of the key aspects of Women’s Hockey Life is the networking opportunities that exist on the site. Coaches and players alike can register on the site, providing teams with an online tool to recruit. This innovative concept is helping revolutionize the game while giving less developed hockey regions an opportunity to improve on a much quicker scale.
The accomplishment she is most proud of is the enthusiasm of her bloggers.
Hawkins has allowed players through various ages and skill levels, along with fans (both female and male), the opportunity to share their views on the game. “Yes, the pride that our bloggers take in writing for Women's Hockey Life. They've made the site their own and that's exactly what we had hoped for. We wanted to give them a voice, to put a spotlight on them—their team, their organization—and that's what's happening. Each season, we get more and more writers giving the much-needed attention to our sport.”
Hawkins' contributions to Women’s Hockey Life have created a remarkable legacy. The opportunity that she has provided to so many that did not have a voice before helps give them a sense of pride and ownership in their contributions to women’s hockey. Carleton Ravens skater Alex Yallouz is one of the players who blogs for Women’s Hockey Life. “I think it is fantastic what Jaclyn is doing. Her work for women’s hockey is amazing.”
Like so many women’s hockey players whose life in the sport is a never-ending balancing act, Hawkins handles it with great stoicism and acumen. Hawkins' efforts to bring people together in a mutual setting represents everything that is good about hockey, and she is a great role model.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise indicated.