Standing between the pipes for the Concordia Stingers in Montreal, Caroline Switalski follows in the footsteps of her sister, Andie. A former competitor with Mount Allison University, Andrea Switalski claimed one of the most prestigious awards in Canadian Interuniversity Sport; the Marion Hillard Award.
The elder Switalski claimed the award in 2011, which recognizes achievement in athletics, academics and community service. In doing so, she made program history by becoming the first Mount Allison Mounties women’s player to claim a CIS award.
Hailing from the Ottawa suburb of Stittsville, Ontario, hockey runs in the blood of the Switalski sisters. “Andie is my older sister. I try to follow in her footsteps. After Mount Allison, she became a teacher. Currently, she is teaching in Toronto at a private school.”
Like many goaltenders, Caroline’s first encounter between the pipes was out of necessity. “When I was little, I was thrown in the net during a tournament.
My middle sister Erica was a goalie and did not want to play in the game. I said that I would go. We ended up permanently switching positions. I had started as a forward. This was back in House League Novice.” Today, her sister Erica is one of her biggest fans, “My sister Erica comes out and watches me play.”
The decision to go to Concordia was based on more than just hockey. “The city of Montreal was part of it. Mostly, it was school, as I am currently enrolled in business school.”
As a member of the Stingers, Switalski is influenced by two members of the Montreal Stars, Lisa-Marie Breton and Caroline Ouellette (also a three-time Winter Games gold medalist). “She is awesome. Liz works us hard,” joked Switalski.
“Ouellette is with us this year. Together, they both help our team. Caro comes to our practices all the time.” As a gesture of support, Switalski and her Stingers teammates have gone to see their mentors in action, “Our team has gone to see them play with the Montreal Stars. It is different to see that level of play.”
Currently in a backup capacity with the Stingers, Switalski is eager for an opportunity to earn more ice time, “I have not really gotten the chance to play. I would like to start and give our team a chance to win.” Switalski believes what it will take for the Stingers to win includes the following, “A lot of hard work and focus.”
In the Stingers' second to last game of the regular season, Switalski had the opportunity to go home again. The Stingers visited Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario to compete in the second annual Do It for Daron charity event.
Do It for Daron is an Ottawa based foundation that honors the life of Daron Richardson, daughter of former Ottawa Senators defender Luke Richardson, and current Cornell Big Red defender Morgan Richardson. A PWHL game honoring DIFD was one that she attended, “I came back at Christmas break. I was there for the PWHL’s DIFD game at Bell Sensplex.”
Although Switalski never knew the Richardson sisters growing up, she is a proud supporter of the cause. “I wear the DIFD Purple Heart sticker on my helmet. I never knew them but I am proud of the impact DIFD has had on mental health awareness. It brings the community together and it is great to see people working together for one cause.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”