Suit­ing up with the Moun­ties

Stephenville’s Olivia Henley en­joys the spe­cial con­nec­tion made with a team­mate

The Western Star - - CLOSE TO HOME - BY DAVE KEARSEY david.kearsey@thewest­ern­star.com Twit­ter: WS_S­port­sDesk

Olivia Henley is en­joy­ing her time on the ice at Mount Al­li­son.

Olivia Henley heard a lot of good things about the hockey skillset of Heather Richards when she made the switch from fig­ure skat­ing to fe­male hockey.

Richards, a St. An­thony na­tive, was one of the fe­male ath­letes who was get­ting rec­og­nized for be­ing one of the bud­ding fe­male play­ers in the prov­ince when the two girls even­tu­ally be­came team­mates with the West­ern War­riors fe­male hockey pro­gram a few years ago.

Richards was fill­ing the net wher­ever she went, play­ing for prov­ince against the best in At­lantic Canada for a num­ber of years be­fore join­ing the Mount Al­li­son Moun­ties of the At­lantic Univer­sity Sport var­sity women’s hockey league, where she cur­rently serves as the team cap­tain in her fi­nal year of AUS el­i­gi­bil­ity.

“She was some­body to look up for in­spi­ra­tion for sure,” Henley said ear­lier this week.

Henley is now a team­mate of Richards, en­joy­ing her sec­ond sea­son as a slick skater who is now play­ing for­ward af­ter spend­ing her rookie cam­paign on the de­fence corps.

Henley has en­joyed the con­nec­tion she has made with a girl who helped pave the way for other fe­male play­ers to pur­sue the game at a higher level. She has learned a lot from be­ing around Richards and now con­sid­ers her a good team­mate and friend.

She’s go­ing to miss hav­ing Richards around next year when she wraps up her AUS ca­reer, but she ap­pre­ci­ates ev­ery­thing she learned from watch­ing the crafty Richards do her thing.

“It was nice to have played with her,” she said.

Her sec­ond sea­son hasn’t been as tough as her first as she tried to ad­just to be­ing in a new en­vi­ron­ment where she had a hec­tic sched­ule of hockey and stud­ies to­ward a bach­e­lor of sci­ence ma­jor­ing in bi­ol­ogy, even­tu­ally mak­ing a liv­ing per­haps as a phys­io­ther­a­pist or a reg­is­tered nurse.

“It was def­i­nitely very ex­haust­ing,” she said of her first sea­son play­ing against older and ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers with a busy regime. “It was a chal­lenge, but it made me want to be bet­ter so it’s good.”

Henley has al­ways loved to skate. She was a com­pet­i­tive fig­ure skater who added hockey to her list of things to do along the way and chose hockey in the end be­cause she was a fan of team sports be­cause of the bond­ing that comes with a group work­ing to­gether on a com­mon goal.

As long as she can fire the puck around with the girls she fig­ures she will be con­tent so she strives to be the best she can and wants to en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence as much as she can.

“I just love be­ing on the ice, es­pe­cially be­ing with my friends. Just be­ing able to do the thing we love to do ev­ery sin­gle day, I think we’re very for­tu­nate,” she said.

CHUCK LINNEY/MOUN­TIES SPORTS IN­FOR­MA­TION

Olivia Henley was in­spired to play fe­male hockey at the elite level af­ter see­ing how an­other girl — Heather Richards of St. An­thony — was get­ting ac­co­lades for her ac­com­plish­ments at the pro­vin­cial and At­lantic Canada level. She never thought Richards would be a team­mate at Mount Al­li­son but she was happy to meet some­body who had a pos­i­tive in­flu­ence on her when it came to the game.

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