Lo­cals share Spar­tan Ex­pe­ri­ence

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Stanstead

Stanstead Col­lege’s var­sity girls hockey team is hav­ing a ban­ner year, first win­ning the NAPHA Cham­pi­onship ear­lier in Fe­bru­ary and, just last week­end, win­ning the NAHA spring tour­na­ment with four straight wins. On this cham­pi­onship team, which is coached by Olympic dou­ble gold medal­ist Sarah Vail­lan­court, are two lo­cal

girls who got their hockey starts in Stanstead and Coat­i­cook.

Les­lie MacKin­non, of Barn­ston West, has been on the Stanstead Col­lege team for three years and fills the for­ward right wing po­si­tion. Her sta­tis­tics for the sea­son are six goals and five as­sists. Les­lie started play­ing hockey in the Coat­i­cook league when she was eight, then played in Sher­brooke for a short time be­fore mak­ing the var­sity team.

With hockey prac­tices four times a week, games ev­ery week­end and lots of trav­el­ling, Les­lie spoke about bal­anc­ing school­work with hockey. “When I first started play­ing hockey at the Col­lege it was dif­fi­cult. But over the years it be­comes nor­mal and you learn to get in the groove; I’m re­ally good at man­ag­ing my time now. When the team is away we study on the bus and we have study ses­sions at the ho­tels where we stay,” she com­mented.

“What I like most about play­ing on the var­sity team is learn­ing from such an ex­pe­ri­enced coach – it’s such an op­por­tu­nity. She (Ms. Vail­lan­court) al­ways has the an­swer for ev­ery ques­tion that we might have about the game,” said Les­lie who also en­joys the close­ness of a team that spends so much time to­gether, both at home and on the road. “I for sure hope to come back to Stanstead Col­lege next year and play on the team again and af­ter that I’m hop­ing to pur­sue my hockey into univer­sity,” con­cluded Les­lie in the in­ter­view with the Stanstead Jour­nal be­fore she headed off to tu­tor in the Phelps Helps pro­gram.

Shayla Coates, of Way’s Mills, is play­ing for a third year with the Spar­tans, fill­ing the po­si­tion of for­ward left wing. Her sta­tis­tics are ten goals and thir­teen as­sists, not in­clud­ing the goal she made in the fi­nal of last week­end’s NAHA tour­na­ment.

As the daugh­ter of Bor­der Hockey’s first fe­male player, Erin Holmes, and the grand­daugh­ter of Stan­ley Holmes, an­other avid hockey fan, Shayla is a mem­ber of a rather fa­mous lo­cal hockey fam­ily. She be­gan play­ing hockey with the Bor­der Mi­nor Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion at the old rink in Stanstead which was built on land do­nated to the town by her great-great-grand­fa­ther.

“You can learn so much in three years on a team like this; I’ve pro­gressed a lot. And the prac­tices that we have now are so in­tense, but they’re fun, too; you re­ally feel like you’re im­prov­ing,” men­tioned Shayla. An­other as­pect of play­ing on this in­ter­na­tional var­sity team that she ap­pre­ci­ates are the friend­ships she’s made. “I met new team­mates who are my best friends now. We spend so much time to­gether, es­pe­cially when we’re on the road and we’re three or four per ho­tel room. Two of my team­mates are from the Czech Re­pub­lic, oth­ers are from New­found­land and Labrador; I hope we’ll stay in touch for­ever,” she added. Shayla hopes to con­tinue her hockey ca­reer at the univer­sity level, pos­si­bly in the United States.

The Stanstead Col­lege var­sity girl Spar­tans will host a tour­na­ment at the Pat Burns Arena from March 11th to March 13th. “It’s our last tour­na­ment so it will be a good way to end the sea­son, with games at home,” con­cluded Shayla.

Pho­tos Scott Coates

Shayla Coates (cen­ter) with as­sis­tant coach Brit­tany Shar­man (left) and coach Sarah Vail­lan­court.

Les­lie MacKin­non (left) and Shayla Coates hold­ing the NAPHA tro­phy af­ter the cham­pi­onship tour­na­ment in Fe­bru­ary.

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