Chilliwack’s Aynsley D’Ottavio will get the chance to be mentored by professional women’s hockey players as part of the brand new Scotiabank Rising Teammates program.
D’Ottavio started playing hockey at five-years-old, mostly on boys’ teams. She’s 15 now, turning 16 in May, at an age when many females drop out of organized sports. Creators of the Rising Teammates program believe a lack of role models and mentorship contribute to that, noting that only 27 per cent of youth coaches are women.
“I think in today’s climate, where drawing attention to women’s sport is so difficult, it’s important to have programs like this to help bring together the future of our sport,” D’Ottavio agreed. “This program has inspired me to continue my hockey journey in hopes of one day playing for Team Canada.”
Rising Teammates, in partnership with Hockey Canada, will pair D’Ottavaio and 20 other female hockey players from across the country with members of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA). The list of mentors includes Natalie Spooner, a gold medalist with Canada’s national women’s hockey team at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
D’Ottavio is currently playing with the Fraser Valley Rush U18 team in the Female Midget AAA League, and she affiliated with the Rush for two years prior while she played on the Chilliwack boy’s bantam AAA team. The teenager was selected for her demonstration of outstanding play, leadership and teamwork, both on and off the ice, and will be paired with Brigette Lacquette, a national team defenceman who plays for the PWHPA’s Calgary franchise.
“Being chosen for such an amazing program where only 21 girls across the country were chosen was a very exciting moment for me, not to mention a huge honor,” D’Ottavio said. “I hope to use all of the amazing advice I receive from my mentor, Brigette Lacquette, to move forward with my hockey career in hopes to keep inspiring more girls to not only join our great game, but dream big and achieve their goals.”
D’Ottavio will receive the following as part of the Scotia Rising Teammates program:
- Four week mentorship program with a PWHPA player
- Four individual mentorship sessions
- Four group sessions that will include special guest appearances
- Resource handbook
- Individual participant package
- $1,000 donation to the mentee’s hockey team
Get more info online at scotiabankgirlshockeyfest.com.