The Brisbane Goannas 2012/13 AWIHL season came with both highs and lows. One player who stood out was the hard-working Michelle Clark-Crompton. Craig Tonks sat down with Michelle and discovered the passion she has for the sport.
Craig Tonks :: When did you start playing ice hockey?
Michelle Clark-Crompton :: I first started playing when I was 6 years old. Growing up in Canada I was surrounded by hockey – all my friends played and I wanted to join them. I remember begging my parents to let me play when I was just 5, but they insisted I take a year of proper skating lessons first. I wasn’t happy about missing the first season but in hindsight I am glad they made me learn my basic skating skills first.
CT :: What do you love about the sport?
MCC :: What’s not to love? It’s so fast-paced and requires so much skill. Each game is different, which is what makes it so exciting to play. And being part of a team is probably the best part. I’ve been lucky to have had so many great teammates over the years, and we have a great group of girls on the Goannas. I always look forward to going to the rink.
CT :: What was your journey through the junior ranks?
MCC :: I started playing competitive hockey when I was 8. There were no local girls teams at the time so I played in AA boys leagues until I was 14. After two seasons of full-contact and getting knocked around (the boys were much bigger than me!) I made the switch to girls hockey which worked out well. It was nice to be able to focus on the skilled side of the game again without having to worry about being body-checked at every opportunity. After four seasons with the girls I eventually moved on to play university hockey for Queen’s University in Canada.
CT :: Is there anyone who has been a major influence on your career?
MCC :: My dad has probably had the biggest influence. He taught me how to skate and was the first person to teach me how to play. He’s always been my biggest supporter and spent countless hours driving me to practices and games all over southern Ontario. I wouldn’t have been able to play as long as I have without his support.
CT :: What has been your own career highlight ?
MCC :: Playing for the Gaels at Queen’s University was one big highlight. Having the opportunity to play varsity hockey was amazing – I really enjoyed the high level of competition, and getting to play 5-6 days a week was a dream. We won two silver medals so that was probably the biggest highlight. But I hope to create some new highlights here in Australia and have already had a big one with the Goannas with our first win in a few seasons. That was pretty exciting!
CT :: Is it important to put back into the sport in relation to coaching and mentoring?
MCC :: It’s definitely important to give back, especially here in Australia where hockey is not a mainstream sport. It’s great to see the sport growing and it can only grow from the dedication of volunteers who put their time and effort into coaching and mentoring new players. I hope to get involved with coaching soon and had so much fun volunteering at the IIHF Girls Hockey Day event that was held in Perth.
CT :: Who is your favourite hockey player or team to watch play?
MCC :: I’m a big Detroit Red Wings fan these days. I love watching Pavel Datsyuk play. His stick-handling skills are amazing – he can create plays that no else can do. I’m also a big fan of Henrik Zetterberg – he’s such a good playmaker and a strong overall player.
CT :: What were your goals for this 2013 season?
MCC :: Getting wins was a key goal and it was nice that we achieved that. The next goal is to get some wins at Finals, which I’m very excited about.
CT :: Any advice for young girls out there striving to make it to the AWIHL?
MCC :: Practice and play as much as you can. It’s a tough game and you can never practice enough. Find ways to practice off the ice too, especially stickhandling and shooting. You may not get a lot of time with the puck during a team practice, so working on puck skills on your own time becomes important. And don’t underestimate the importance of strength and conditioning. The more fit you are the more advantage you’ll have out on the ice. I always wish I could skate a little faster!
by Craig Tonks
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