Bjor­gan earns hockey schol­ar­ship

Holy Cross stu­dent signs with St. Lawrence Univer­sity af­ter play­ing at na­tional U18 hockey cham­pi­onships

The Peterborough Examiner - - SPORTS - MIKE DAVIES EX­AM­INER SPORTS DI­REC­TOR [email protected]­ter­bor­ough­daily.com

Hockey has af­forded Rachel Bjor­gan some great op­por­tu­ni­ties.

On Mon­day, the 17-year-old signed a let­ter of in­tent to at­tend St. Lawrence Univer­sity in Can­ton, N.Y., to play with the Saints on a hockey schol­ar­ship. The sign­ing cer­e­mony was held at Holy Cross Sec­ondary School.

It was one week af­ter she re­turned from play­ing for Team On­tario Blue at the Na­tional U18 Women’s Hockey Cham­pi­onships in Mor­den and Win­kler, Man. Her team placed fourth los­ing 2-1 in over­time to Que­bec in the bronze medal game.

Bjor­gan, a right wing, is also in her sec­ond sea­son with the Whitby Jr. Wolves of the Pro­vin­cial Women’s Hockey League, the fe­male equiv­a­lent to the On­tario Hockey League.

It was two years ago at a U16 show­case that NCAA schools first no­ticed Bjor­gan. She and her par­ents Bond, a teacher at Holy Cross, and Melissa be­gan ex­plor­ing op­tions and vis­ited six schools in­clud­ing some Cana­dian op­tions.

“We made a pros and cons list and I just knew St. Lawrence was right for me,” she said.

“The coach (Chris Wells) has been coach­ing at the univer­sity for many years and the hockey pro­gram has a great rep­u­ta­tion. Also, since I’m young and think­ing for the fu­ture, it’s a lib­eral arts school which gives me lots of op­tions for a ca­reer path. The main thing is it’s a smaller school and it felt like a home. It just felt so right to be there.”

It’s also not too far from home at a lit­tle more than a three­hour drive.

“My fam­ily can come visit and watch me play,” she said.

One of the fam­ily mem­bers she is re­fer­ring to is her grand­fa­ther Gor­don Bjor­gan who is one of her big­gest sup­port­ers.

“He comes to all of my games ... He sup­ported me through­out my de­ci­sion to choose St. Lawrence. Fi­nan­cially, he’s sup­ported me when I’ve gone away to camps,” she said.

At na­tion­als, Bjor­gan’s team won its pool with a 3-0 record beat­ing Man­i­toba, Que­bec and Bri­tish Co­lum­bia. They lost 3-1 to Saskatchew­an in semi­fi­nals. On­tario Red beat Saskatchew­an for the gold medal. Bjor­gan had two as­sists in five games.

“It was amaz­ing to get the op­por­tu­nity to play with some of the best girls in the province and against the best girls in the na­tion,” Bjor­gan said.

“It was an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to get to know some of the girls I’ll be play­ing with and against at an even higher level at univer­sity. And get­ting to travel be­cause I haven’t re­ally trav­elled out­side of On­tario many times in my life so that whole ex­pe­ri­ence was pretty new and ex­cit­ing.”

Bjor­gan played in the Peter­bor­ough Girls Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion Ice Kats rep pro­gram un­til her mi­nor ban­tam sea­son when she played with boys on the Mi­nor Ban­tam AA Pe­tes. The next two years she at­tended Trin­ity Col­lege School in Port Hope play­ing var­sity hockey. She trans­ferred to Holy Cross for Grade 11 and 12 when she joined the Wolves, com­mut­ing to Whitby for games and prac­tices.

An all-around ath­lete, she played rep soc­cer grow­ing up, high school bas­ket­ball, vol­ley­ball, bad­minton and track and field. She made it to OFSAA for javelin and East­ern Re­gion­als for 100 me­tre hur­dles and the 200m dash last spring.

Hockey has al­ways been her big­gest pas­sion.

“I’ve al­ways had a fond­ness for hockey,” she said. “It was dif­fer­ent from other sports be­cause the sea­son is so much longer and you get this in­cred­i­ble bond with your team­mates. It just drew me in. I al­ways found my­self want­ing to play it more than other sports.”

MATTHEW MUR­NAGHAN HOCKEY CANADA

Peter­bor­ough’s Rachel Bjor­gan says St. Lawrence Univer­sity “felt like a home.”

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