We recently had the opportunity to bring on an intern, Lindsay Eastwood, for the duration of the summer. Lindsay is going to helping us mainly in Communications but also across the board during her time at CARHA Hockey.

She has an inspiring story in hockey and plays at a very high level. We thought it would make for an interesting story on our website, so check it out below!

                Growing up, playing hockey was all I ever knew. I laced up my first pair of skates for skating lessons as early as 4 years old and two short years later, I was playing fundamentals. I was hesitant at first to begin playing organized hockey due to the mere fact that I wanted to figure skate and wear “girl skates”. That first season of fundamental hockey, I found a passion for hockey and never looked back.

                My parents realized early that I was a natural talent in our beloved sport. My competitive nature drove me to want to be the best player on the ice. This drive gained me a full scholarship to Syracuse University and brought me to play on the U18 Women’s National Team. In 2014, I put on the maple leaf for the first time and wore it with pride; I never wanted to take it off. Representing my country was an incredible feeling and I knew that I wanted to do it again. Especially after falling short to the Americans at the IIHF World Championships in 2015. 

                As I entered my freshman year at Syracuse University in the fall of 2015, I had to sit out of pre-season training. My hockey career was put on hold for what I thought was going to be three months. I had been diagnosed with two blood clots in my lungs just days before I was to leave and pursue my University dream in Syracuse. The doctors told me it would be three months and I will be all set to hit the ice. Turns out it was an entire year. However, a year is much better than the rest of my life. After those three months were over, I had my check up with the doctor in which they ran some tests to receive results that I was positive lupus anticoagulant. This meant I had to stay on blood thinners for likely the rest of my life, which essentially sidelined me for the rest of the 2015/16 season, with a less than 5% chance that my condition would reverse itself to get back in the Syracuse Orange line-up.

                So here I was an 18 year-old girl with aspirations and dreams of playing in the Olympics and college hockey just swiped right out from under me. All I knew was hockey - it’s all I ever did. Everyone knew me as Lindsay, the girl who plays hockey. I had identified with hockey personally and socially.

                “What now?” was a question that ran through my head too often during those first few days of being told the soul crushing news of my hockey career being over. As I sat in the doctor’s office and he was explaining everything to me, I remember thinking “What sport can I do now?”

                A couple of weeks later my dad came to me with the idea of taking up rowing. At first I was opposed to this idea because I was Lindsay the hockey player, not Lindsay the rower. It took me some time to realize that I wasn’t just Lindsay the hockey player, but that I was actually just Lindsay. Yes, I played hockey but I also did so much more. I was a friend, daughter, sister, soccer player, snowboarder, animal lover - the list could go on forever. So why should I categorize myself to one thing? Hockey was not who I am, it does not define me, therefore when hockey ends for me that does not mean I lose who I am as well.

                I was too caught up while playing that I had lost myself along the way. I think this is something that many athletes do. Don’t get me wrong, it is amazing to have a passion for something and to be dedicated and work towards goals. It is just equally as important to keep a good head on your shoulders and know that hockey isn’t your whole world. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you’ll become a better hockey player and athlete for that matter. It will also make your transition out of competitive hockey much easier.

                I ended up taking my dad’s advice and not giving up on my dreams and started to learn how to row. I wasn’t ready to not be an athlete yet. Having a 6”0 frame, I was the ideal body type for rowing. Between my body type and drive for excellence I had modified my aspirations to becoming an Olympic rower. I was in good hands with Row to the Podium Canada and the Syracuse University rowing team to  begin a new journey in rowing.

                As I was getting ready to head back to Syracuse University for my sophomore year, I received some of the best news ever. I had beat the 5% odds and my condition had reversed itself. The first person I called was my hockey coach Paul Flanagan at Syracuse University. I told him the news and helped me get things in order with the doctors so I could fill out one of my dreams of playing college hockey.

                This time, I put rowing on hold. I hope to one day go back to training for rowing at a competitive level but for now, it will remain a leisure activity in the summer. I was on cloud nine to say the least heading back to school that fall. However, this time I promised myself to remember who I am. Hockey was once again a part of who I am, but not all of me. This gave me a whole new outlook on hockey and life.

                I am looking forward to hitting the ice again with my teammates in September.