She shoots... glug...she scores!

The Glengarry News - - Front Page - BY STEVEN WAR­BUR­TON News Staff

Meet Leigh McGaughey. She’s a 44-year-old mother of two who just moved to Bainsville along with her hus­band, David.

She’s done a lot of glo­be­trot­ting in her life. Born in South Africa, she has lived in New Zea­land, Eng­land, Taz­ma­nia, and even­tu­ally moved to Van­cou­ver, where she ob­tained a PhD in marine sci­ence from the Uni­ver­sity of Bri­tish Columbia.

And she’s also a mem­ber of the Cana­dian Women’s Elite un­der­wa­ter hockey team.

Let’s dis­pel some of the myths about un­der­wa­ter hockey. There’s no goal­tender and play­ers are not out­fit­ted in scuba gear. Their sticks can be op­er­ated with one hand; they can eas­ily fit in your glove com­part­ment. Per­haps the most im­por­tant piece of equip­ment is the snorkel.

Stam­ina plays a big role as play­ers have to bal­ance their play time – of­ten spent swim­ming near the very bot­tom of the pool – with the fre­quent com­ing up for air.

Un­der­wa­ter hockey doesn’t have any­thing near the com­mer­cial ap­peal that ice hockey does. Team mem­bers at the elite level have to pay travel costs when­ever there’s a com­pe­ti­tion. In fact, she just re­turned from the 13th an­nual Bat­tle @ Al­ti­tude, an un­der­wa­ter hockey tour­na­ment in Den­ver. Next on the hori­zon: the At­lantic Coast Cham­pi­onships in Que­bec City in April and the Na­tional Cham­pi­onships in Mon­treal in May.

Dr. McGaughey fell in love with the sport when she got her scuba div­ing ticket as a 12year-old liv­ing in Capetown. Later, when she was in high school, a phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion teacher brought some hockey equip­ment to the swim­ming pool as a “once off.”

She tried the game and re­ally en­joyed it. As a stu­dent at the Uni­ver­sity of Capetown, she dis­cov­ered an un­der­wa­ter hockey team in the city cen­tre. Un­for­tu­nately, she didn’t have trans­porta­tion to get there so she had to con­tent her­self play­ing wa­ter polo, which was much closer to where she lived.

Ev­i­dently, she got quite good at un­der­wa­ter hockey – good enough to qual­ify for a num­ber of na­tional teams. While liv­ing in Taz­ma­nia, she was picked for the South African team. In 2006, she played for the Aus­tralian team, which sub­se­quently beat the Cana­dian women in the fi­nals.

Strangely enough, as a cur­rent mem­ber of the Cana­dian team, she’s now play­ing with women she beat when she played for Aus­tralia.

Al­though Dr. McGaughey trains twice a week in Mon­treal, she says it’s rare for the en­tire team to prac­tise to­gether. That’s be­cause they are so spread out through­out the coun­try. Three play­ers are in Van­cou­ver, two in Ed­mon­ton, three in Toronto, one in Mon­treal, and two in Que­bec City.

She says she moved to Bainsville from Van­cou­ver be­cause her hus­band’s fam­ily is from Corn­wall. They have two chil­dren. A daugh­ter, Kath­leen, who is six, and a son, James, who is one.

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