Olivia Henley heard a lot of good things about the hockey skillset of Heather Richards when she made the switch from figure skating to female hockey.
Richards, a St. Anthony native, was one of the female athletes who was getting recognized for being one of the budding female players in the province when the two girls eventually became teammates with the Western Warriors female hockey program a few years ago.
Richards was filling the net wherever she went, playing for province against the best in Atlantic Canada for a number of years before joining the Mount Allison Mounties of the Atlantic University Sport varsity women’s hockey league, where she currently serves as the team captain in her final year of AUS eligibility.
“She was somebody to look up for inspiration for sure,” Henley said earlier this week.
Henley is now a teammate of Richards, enjoying her second season as a slick skater who is now playing forward after spending her rookie campaign on the defence corps.
Henley has enjoyed the connection she has made with a girl who helped pave the way for other female players to pursue the game at a higher level. She has learned a lot from being around Richards and now considers her a good teammate and friend.
She’s going to miss having Richards around next year when she wraps up her AUS career, but she appreciates everything she learned from watching the crafty Richards do her thing.
“It was nice to have played with her,” she said.
Her second season hasn’t been as tough as her first as she tried to adjust to being in a new environment where she had a hectic schedule of hockey and studies toward a bachelor of science majoring in biology, eventually making a living perhaps as a physiotherapist or a registered nurse.
“It was definitely very exhausting,” she said of her first season playing against older and experienced players with a busy regime. “It was a challenge, but it made me want to be better so it’s good.”
Henley has always loved to skate. She was a competitive figure skater who added hockey to her list of things to do along the way and chose hockey in the end because she was a fan of team sports because of the bonding that comes with a group working together on a common goal.
As long as she can fire the puck around with the girls she figures she will be content so she strives to be the best she can and wants to enjoy the experience as much as she can.
“I just love being on the ice, especially being with my friends. Just being able to do the thing we love to do every single day, I think we’re very fortunate,” she said.