Every year, the school must say goodbye to student athletes who devoted countless amounts of hours to perfecting their craft while maintaining the grades required to play in the CIS. This year, the women’s hockey team says goodbye to four players — Lindsey O’Neill, Rebecca Bouwhis, Paula LaGamba, and their captain, Kaitlyn McDonell.</p>
McDonell is a fifth year kinesiology student from Orillia, Ontario. In 2011, during her first year of school, she tried out for the women’s hockey team as a walk-on. Despite not being highly recognized amongst Waterloo coaches before the tryout, she was able to impress them enough and made the team as a forward.
The beginning of her university athletics career was uneventful as she struggled to adjust to the new, higher level of competition which led to less ice time. She was only able to pile up six points in her first three years.
The pace and speed of a CIS game is “a really huge jump from Intermediate C hockey, where a lot of girls come from junior hockey (Intermediate A),” McDonell said.
She really started to make her mark in her fourth year when she played in 24 games and scored five goals and six assists, almost doubling her career point total.
Now in her fifth year, McDonell is the clear leader of the group as she leads the team in assists with 16. That puts her in a tie for eighth place in all of Canada in the assist category. With her four goals on the season, her 20 total points puts her in a tie for 30th.
McDonell credits her teammates on and off the ice for helping her balance school and athletic life.
“Being on the team is amazing because of the great support system,” McDonell said. “[It’s] overwhelming at times, but having the sport forces you to manage your time. You know if you have a couple hours before practice, that’s when you have to study.”
McDonell did not expect to make it this far. Very rarely do players come on a team as a walk-on and progress as much as she has in any collegiate sport.
“If there is anything I want the girls to know, [it] is to work hard and to leave it all out there.”