Kendra Antony on Wisconsin, Ottawa and the Love of the Game
A former scoring legend with the Wisconsin Badgers, Kendra Antony has not stopped playing hockey. Her love of the game has not dissipated and she continues to participate in an Ottawa recreational league.
“I play on an A-level team called the Geri Hat Tricks (a play on the word Geriatric)," said Antony. "We play here (Carleton University) on Sunday nights.”
Although it may be a recreational league, the level of talent is prominent. “Most of the girls have played in university or college," Antony said. "There are a bunch of us on my team. There is also a team mostly made up of former Ottawa Gee Gees players.”
Antony has also managed to participate in the Ottawa Vanier Women’s Ball Hockey League. It is a popular summer league that has produced many members of the Canadian National Ball Hockey Team.
In the realm of professional women’s hockey, Antony helped to bring a presence to Ottawa. Antony played in the inaugural season of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League in 2007-08. In addition, she competed for the Ottawa Raiders of the preceding National Women’s Hockey League.
“It was really neat (playing in the CWHL)," she said. "It can be hard as an adult to find the time, as everyone has jobs. I am a teacher so I always have evenings and weekends off. Sometimes, it is hard for the commitment level.”
Antony reflects on one particular practice. “One time, there were only eight players at a practice," she said. "When trying to compete at an elite level, it can be hard, but I still like playing.”
Her final year with the Wisconsin Badgers led to a coaching change. Mark Johnson, a member of the 1980 Miracle on Ice team was appointed head coach. “I had him in my last year and he was probably the best coach that I ever had. He was an amazing coach and I was glad to experience playing for him," she said.
As one of the first players in the history of the Badgers program, the development of the program into a national power is a great point of pride for Antony.
“I felt we built the program up," Antony explained. "Today, Wisconsin is one of the main schools. They compete for the Frozen Four all the time. It was nice to be part of the team that helped to build up the program.”
Of note, Antony was also one of the first Canadian players in the history of the Badgers. “In my first year at Wisconsin, I was the only Canadian," she said. "By my last year, we had quite a few. About nine or 10. We had Carla MacLeod, Kathy Devereaux (Boyd Devereaux’s sister) and Jackie Friesen from Saskatchewan.”
A point of pride for Antony was seeing former teammates eventually compete at the Winter Games. “It was neat to see players like Molly Engstrom and Carla MacLeod develop. As good as they were, to see them develop and compete at the Olympic level.” Antony added. “Engstrom recently announced her retirement from the US National Team. She was one of their best hockey players.”
Fellow Canadian Meghan Hunter was a teammate (and a friend) of Antony during the Wisconsin years. “I was linemates with Meghan," she said. "We played three years together. She was a year younger than me.”
Another of Antony’s Canadian teammates with the Badgers was Sara Bauer. In 2006, Bauer would become the second Canadian-born player to claim the prestigious Patty Kazmaier Award. “I believe she is coaching now," Antony said.
Antony recently had the opportunity to reunite with many of her former Badgers teammates. “This past year, Wisconsin opened a new arena (LaBahn Arena)," she said. "There was a hockey reunion of the former Badgers this past year.”
As part of the first senior class in Badgers history, Antony left a remarkable legacy with the program. She scored the first four goals in the history of the storied program. She graduated as the all-time leading scorer in Badgers history with 159 points. And while that record has been surpassed, her hard work in laying the foundation for future generations of Badgers shall never be forgotten.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
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