Kayla Munro’s university plans have been dashed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the goalkeeper is back on her knees at Simon Fraser University, marking history in passing
The last two years have been all but normal for Kayla Munro. Like many other athletes, the young goalkeeper’s daily life has been marred by the pandemic, seasonal cancellations and restrictions. Finding ways to play hockey has become a real challenge.
The unique course of this young and talented player led him to the men’s hockey team at Simon Fraser University (SFU), thus overcoming barriers.
“I didn’t know if I was going to have a chance to play hockey, trust her. I am grateful to be part of the SFU team. »
Munro and his team had an exceptional 2021-2022 season at the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL), recording a perfect 12-0-0 record. For his part, Munro marked history a few times. She first carved out a place in BCIHL history as the first woman to contest a preparatory match when she was brought in front of the net during the third period of a clash against the Lakers of the ‘Okanagan, on 25th September 2021. It offers a great performance, blocking 13 of 14 tirs dirigés vers elle. Munro once again left her mark on October 16, 2021, the day she became the first woman to get a start in an out -of -competition match of the BCIHL, also against the Lakers.
“I was a little nervous,” she tells of her first presence on the screen. “Honestly, I’m not going through it as a dramatic event. I was nervous because I hadn’t played a match in almost two years. I didn’t play it last year in Syracuse, and the year before, I was on the move after an operation on the wrist. I worked with a sports psychologist and I learned some good tricks to control my nervousness and make a positive force on the ice. I was a little nervous, yes, but I felt well prepared. »
Munro made her biggest achievement to date on February 5, 2022, when she became the first woman to play in a regular season match of the BCIHL. The 19-year-old goalkeeper took the lead in the third period in a match against the Lakers of Okanagan who were left with an 8-5 win over SFU.
Pour Munro, the idea of starting was not to write a page of history in line with the SFU men’s hockey team, on the contrary. She saw the NCAA, an ambitious goal she seemed to be achieving by accepting a scholarship to play hockey at Syracuse University, New York, in 2019.
“It was nothing but a dream come true to get a scholarship in Syracuse,” points out his North Vancouver native. Playing in the NCAA has always been my goal since I started practicing hockey. In my opinion, apart from the Olympic Games, it is one of the highest levels that can be reached in women’s hockey. »
The confinement and ups and downs in the world of sports have prompted Munro to change his plans and stay at home with his family instead of playing in our southern neighborhoods. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but she felt included and supported.
“I spent about a month in Syracuse in 2020. One could not train or do anything else; we were confined to our dwellings. I decided to come home for family reasons. It was supposed to be for a semester only, but I finally decided to stay. Syracuse head coach Paul Flanagan was very comprehensive. This is an unbelievable one. He wants the best for us, and he told me to do what would make me happy and what would be best for my mental health. »
Once the prize decision to stay at home in British Columbia, Munro began looking for a university where he could pursue his studies. She also wanted to find a place to play hockey, which was not an easy thing given all the sanitary restrictions.
“I applied for admission to Simon Fraser University and I was accepted,” she says.
The question of the school being settled, she began to evaluate her options for hockey.
“I looked a little everywhere. Even an indoor or home league would suffice. Everything I wanted, it was to play. »
“I discovered that SFU had a men’s hockey team, so I sent an email to head coach Mark Coletta asking for a test. I told him a little bit about me, the teams for which I had played and the level I had reached in hockey. He supported me from the start. »
“Kayla is looking for a team,” Coletta recalls. I told her that she was welcome for a test, and that if she was good enough to play, she would. Knowing the situation, we wanted to give him a chance. »
After a fruitful trial and training camp, Munro’s name was enrolled within the SFU formation for 2021-2022.
“She says she plays hockey,” added Coletta. She has a very good technique in front of the net, she blows well. So the important thing was to make sure she adapted well. »
Coletta is categorical: Munro was chosen for the quality of his game. He sees the athlete, but not his genre.
“Kayla is a fantastic person, come on. Every day, she arrives ready to work and play. »
Munro greatly appreciates the fact that Coletta treats her like everyone else.
“He wants his team to be made up of the best performers,” she says. Man or woman, it doesn’t matter. The first time we talked on the phone, he told me I played hockey, point. I found it gratifying and inspiring. I feel really good. »
Over the years, Munro has had many positive models who have helped him as a player and as a person. She first met Jeff Eaton when she was playing for the North Shore Avalanche at the North Shore Women’s Ice Hockey Association.
“Two coaches really marked me, trust her. Eaton was involved a lot with the North Shore Avenue, it helped us develop our skills. I had the chance to play on his junior women’s team, the Pacific Steelers. He’s one of the coolest people in hockey I know, and we can always count on his support. Eaton really had our success at heart, and it was in large part thanks to him if I found a scholarship in Syracuse. He taught me everything. »
“I also had Delaney Collins, my coach in my first season with the Rush de Fraser Valley and the M18 AAA division. »
After 95 parts and nine gold medals with the women’s national team, Collins, a veteran of the Canadian blue line in the 2000s, decided to make the jump and pass from player to coach. In addition to the experience of a well -garnished roadmap, Collins sent Munro a message that still resonates with her.
“Collins firmly believes in the importance of valuing women, Munro notes. We deserve to be seen as equals, in sport as in everything. She taught me to avoid trusting me. She taught me that there was nothing wrong with being strong and muscular, that one was not obliged to be lean and delicate. It helped me define who I was as a goal keeper and as a person. She really was an important role model for me. »
“It was a charm to work with Kayla, Collins recalls. His energy and leadership were contagious, and his teammates could always count on a proud competitor. She is a very athletic and fast guard, and she maneuvers the round almost like a defender. Training is a pleasure. She is an exceptional person and a very good role model for young girls. »
After all that he has experienced over the last two years, Munro knows precisely that his plans can change in no time. This does not stop him from setting goals.
“I want to finish my studies. This is very important to me. This is the next step. Then, I want to find a job all the time, I hope, to play hockey. I appreciate being able to play, because at some point, I would ignore if I had the chance to do it. »
Munro’s move to SFU will help him improve his game, but also acquire life skills.
“It was all right for her,” Coletta points out. The fact that Kayla has been able to adapt will surely be useful after this year. »
“She worked hard and took a commitment on us. She was ready to see plenty of ice or to assume the role of auxiliary. She does everything it takes to be the goal keeper going into the course of next year, be it in a women’s or men’s team. »
Munro remained strong despite the obstacles.
“In recent years, my biggest challenge has been to stay motivated, trust her. But I am extremely happy to be there where I am today. Content, and proud. »