‘Be­ing on the ice just feels like home’

For­mer King’s-Edge­hill ath­lete Mae Bather­son com­mits to Syra­cuse Univer­sity hockey team

Valley Journal Advertiser - - SPORTS - BY ASH­LEY THOMP­SON KINGSCOUNTYNEWS.CA

The good news keeps com­ing for the Bather­sons.

The hockey fam­ily hail­ing from New Mi­nas re­ceived word that 20-year-old Drake Bather­son was called up to the Ot­tawa Sen­a­tors Nov. 11 and now Mae Bather­son, his younger sis­ter, has se­cured a full schol­ar­ship to Syra­cuse Univer­sity start­ing in the 2019-20 sea­son.

“One of my goals ever since I started play­ing hockey was to get to the high­est level of women’s hockey and try and earn a schol­ar­ship, and a de­gree, by play­ing univer­sity hockey,” said Mae in a phone in­ter­view Nov. 29.

“Not many Nova Sco­tians go Di­vi­sion 1 NCAA, so that was a very big deal for me and I’m look­ing for­ward to play­ing at that level.”

Mae spent five years with King’sEdge­hill’s elite-level girls’ hockey team based in Wind­sor. She says the ex­pe­ri­ence helped her gain valu­able ex­po­sure through­out North Amer­ica.

“Play­ing at King’s-Edge­hill, I worked on my skills a lot and de­vel­oped a lot as a hockey player,” she said.

Rink feels like home

A ver­sa­tile player, the strate­gic de­fender is look­ing to log some min­utes as a for­ward as she com­pletes her high school hockey ca­reer with the Kingston Ice Wolves of the Pro­vin­cial Women’s Hockey League in On­tario.

“I’m look­ing to score goals and set up plays in the of­fen­sive end,” she said.

Her to-do list in­cludes some lofty goals — like, for ex­am­ple, to make Team Canada and rep­re­sent her coun­try in the Olympics one day — but Mae’s suc­cess to date can be at­trib­uted to con­tin­u­ally set­ting smaller goals that help her im­prove her game on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

“I’ve al­ways had a love for hockey ever since I was young. I re­ally like the team sport as­pect and some­thing about go­ing to the rink and be­ing on the ice just feels like home,” she said.

Mae’s never had to look far for role mod­els in the sport. Her fa­ther, Norm Bather­son, was a star player for Aca­dia Univer­sity be­fore go­ing pro, catch­ing the eye of the Ot­tawa Sen­a­tors and en­joy­ing a five-year ca­reer in the Amer­i­can Hockey League (AHL).

And Mae wasn’t about to miss her big brother’s NHL de­but — and, as it would turn out, first NHL goal — when the Sens faced off against the Detroit Red Wings Nov. 15.

“That’s been one of his goals since he was young,” she says.

“He’s been one of my real role mod­els grow­ing up, so to see one of his dreams come true re­ally pushes me to want to work to­wards mak­ing mine come true as well.”

Proud par­ents

Proud mom Deeann Bather­son is thrilled to see her kids reap­ing the re­wards of hard work and ded­i­ca­tion. “Both my kids are very ob­ser­vant of what goes on around them and they have been since they were lit­tle, and I think they re­al­ized early that in or­der to achieve a goal, you have to put in the work,” the Kings County Academy teacher said in a re­cent phone in­ter­view.

“They seem to al­ways work to­ward those goals even if it means a run late at night or shoot­ing pucks in the garage, which they did a lot of,” she said with a laugh.

She fondly re­mem­bers them set­ting goals like shoot­ing 1,000 pucks a day, or mak­ing a pro­vin­cial team. Be­ing two and a half years apart in age, Deeann says her kids didn’t get too com­pet­i­tive with each other.

“I think, if any­thing, they look to each other for sup­port.”

Back when Deeann played hockey as a kid, she re­calls girls’ teams con­sist­ing of play­ers rang­ing in age from 12-18. She’s happy to say there are more op­por­tu­ni­ties for her daugh­ter to­day.

“That’s what’s ex­cit­ing for us is to see the growth of the fe­male game for Mae,” she said, adding that this as­pect of the sport has seen sub­stan­tial gains in the last ten years.

“It came at a good time for her be­cause Drake al­ways knew what his goal was, but she wasn’t re­ally sure what was out there for fe­males.”

The sib­lings are now liv­ing close by, with Mae stay­ing in Belleville, Ont.

“They ac­tu­ally live one kilo­me­tre from each other,” said Deeann, who is orig­i­nally from Ber­wick and has many rel­a­tives in the An­napo­lis Val­ley.

She says it’s heart­warm­ing to know that An­napo­lis Val­ley res­i­dents have been root­ing for her kids and cel­e­brat­ing their suc­cesses.

“Peo­ple say I’ve never watched a hockey game be­fore but be­cause I know some­one that’s play­ing I’ve watched ev­ery game, and that kind of gets me ex­cited that Drake’s brought out new hockey fans,” she said.

“I think it re­ally mo­ti­vates Drake to know he has such a huge com­mu­nity be­hind him.”

Watch­ing Drake’s NHL de­but

She’s not likely to for­get the night she watched Drake score his first NHL goal.

“We had just watched the Sens a cou­ple nights be­fore and never thought our child would be on the ice three or four days later,” she said.

“It was kind of lucky. We were sit­ting di­rectly be­hind the net that he was shoot­ing at in the sec­ond pe­riod, so we were able to see, clearly, the whole play off the face­off and we saw him shoot, and saw the puck travel into the net.”

She says the fam­ily has used the word sur­real a lot in re­cent con­ver­sa­tions.

“In the last year and a half, it’s just been an ac­cel­er­ated pace of suc­cess that we could only dream of for him.”

While she’s proud to see the hard work pay­ing off for both of her chil­dren, Deeann says her grin matches the ear-to-ear smile that is spot­ted on Drake’s face a lot these days when some­one goes be­yond see­ing her chil­dren as stand­out ath­letes and de­scribes them as thought­ful, kind and ap­pre­cia­tive.

“Those are the biggest com­pli­ments you can get about your child,” she said.

“When you get com­pli­ments from peo­ple about how nice your kids are or how kind they are, there’s no bet­ter com­pli­ment.”

CON­TRIB­UTED

The Bather­son fam­ily — Deeann, Drake, Mae and Norm — has had a whirl­wind year, with plenty of hockey ac­com­plish­ments to cel­e­brate in the last year and a half.

CON­TRIB­UTED

Sib­lings Drake and Mae Bather­son are con­tin­u­ally up­ping their game as es­teemed hockey play­ers hail­ing from the An­napo­lis Val­ley. Drake now plays for the NHL’s Ot­tawa Sen­a­tors and Mae, a for­mer King’s-Edge­hill School stu­dent, has landed a full schol­ar­ship to play for Syra­cuse Univer­sity.

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