Ditidaht First Nation hockey player’s Harvard Crimson career on hold due to COVID-19

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Ditidaht First Nation hockey player’s Harvard Crimson career on hold due to COVID-19's Profile


Harvard Crimson defensive hockey player Maryna Macdonald had never even skated on real ice before she developed a deep love for the game.

Macdonald, a member of the Ditidaht First Nation, grew up in Bamfield, B.C., a remote community on the west coast of Vancouver Island, until she was eight. There was no recreation centre or ice rink, but Macdonald logged a lot of hours playing road hockey and when her family decided to move to Port Alberni, she was ready for the real thing.

A little over a decade later, and Macdonald had two seasons at Harvard under her belt and her eyes set on making it pro.

Then the pandemic hit.

Unable to travel to Boston, Macdonald is in Port Alberni waiting to hear if the season will start up in January. In the meantime, she will be coaching young players at local hockey camps, including two girls Macdonald says have never played the sport before.

Maryna Macdonald would be starting her junior year on campus at Harvard College in Boston this September if not for the COVID-19 pandemic. (Facebook/Maryna Macdonald)

“I still vividly remember that first practice. The feeling I got the first time I stepped on that ice — I had finally made it,” Macdonald said Monday on The Early Edition.

Macdonald, chuckling at the memory of her younger self, said she probably took to the ice that first time with oversized gear and dull skates and without any sense of balance on her blades. What she did have was a dream.

Her cousin, Connor Logan, older by four years, had been her inspiration at a young age. Logan, who now plays hockey for the University of Windsor, had played alongside Macdonald in the driveway and went on before her to play in organized leagues.

She said travelling with her family to rinks around Vancouver Island to watch Logan play made her realize she wanted to do the same.

“The energy in the rink drew me there,” said Macdonald. If nothing else, she said, travelling out of Bamfield seemed like a good enough reason to play league hockey. That and the concession food.

By her second year of playing, Macdonald had set her sights on joining rep teams, and by the time she was in Grade 10, according to The Harvard Gazette, she had already been scouted by the ivy league school.

“Growing up in Port, I loving going to the rink everyday, I didn’t aspire to go to Harvard growing up, I just played for the fun of it,” she said.

And while she is hoping to pass on that passion for play to the kids she will be coaching this year, Macdonald also said it made a difference to her when she was young and first encountered female coaches at camps who had played professionally or for college teams.

“That changed my whole outlook,” said Macdonald, who is excited to foster female talent in Port Alberni and showcase what opportunities may be out there for young island girls — even if they haven’t set foot on the ice yet.

To hear Maryna Macdonald speak with Stephen Quinn, host of The Early Edition, tap here. 





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