No Hockey, No Me | PG Sports
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No Hockey, No Me

No Hockey, No Me

My Journey to Success

This immense love hate for hockey started when I walked on to the Boston University women’s hockey team. I had every capability to play Division 3 hockey and tear it up, but I had my D1 dream and I wasn’t going to give up that opportunity. When I was 17 I was working in a skate shop and I got a call from Brian Durocher, Head coach at BU, asking what number I wanted to wear when I walked on to the team. I collapsed to the ground and cried. I finally made it. Little did I know this was one win in a series of heartbreaks that I would encounter chasing my dream.

After my first season, playing a total of 10 games, I had maybe 15 shifts. All of which I did nothing notable. My sophomore year I played around 8 and served a penalty for my goalie. I was working tirelessly in practice and doing extra sessions on the ice with Canadian Olympic hopefuls. I was killing myself to be poised and ready for the graduation of our seniors, which would open 4 spots on our defensive playing roster. After our season ended, I was awarded an athletic scholarship for summer school to lighten my load for the fall semester, what I read as a good sign for my playing career. After just two weeks of summer school living with my teammate and lifting each morning at 5:00 am, my coach sent me a text to stop into his office before a lift.

At 4:45 am on June 5th I was cut from my collegiate hockey team. A rising junior, on BU Athletic scholarship taking Biology 201 with two of my now former teammates. I was absolutely crushed. I had been invited by my coach in the same conversation to join the team as an equipment manager, I went from two a days in the gym to being asked to sharpen skates and organize apparel orders. I walked out of the office and I saw my teammates walking up to lift, they could tell something was wrong. And I said, I’m just not feeling great tell Darcy, our trainer, that I was getting sick in the locker room and couldn’t come to lift. I ran down to the locker room and threw up. It took them 3 days to have all of my gear packed up into my old Waltham High School Hawks hockey bag.

Hockey turned its back on me, hockey left me out in the cold. I took a few weeks to grieve until I remembered that Boston was also home to the Boston Blades. A women’s professional hockey team that played in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. After a few weeks of emailing our league commissioner, and the team’s head coach Digit Murphy, I was granted a special circumstance rostered spot that only allowed me to dress for 8 games, after missing the player draft in May. Hockey was back in my life, and in my first season, I got my first point in 3 years. I had an assist on a goal, I was cutting down the left-hand side of the ice and threw a pass back door that Katka Mrazova was able to pop in. I was getting better every day playing with 9 players that went on to play on the USA Olympic team. I was playing faster hockey, I was practicing with better players, I was elevating my game as well as continuing to go to BU. I jumped ranks from College hockey to Pro hockey overnight. I was a consistent name on the Healthy Scratch roster, but I was a member of the team, and that was more than I got from BU. I did my job at practice and fought to make players better, challenge them and grow with them. That season we won the Clarkson Cup, and my name officially resides on the side of it. The Clarkson Cup sits right next to Lord Stanley in the hockey hall of fame.

After two seasons of the CWHL, I showed up to our first practice, got a look from my coach, and knew that at the end of practice I would be told that it was the end of the line for me. I’ve had that look before, I knew that look too well. Another door closing quickly another sign that I was just not what hockey needed. I took a year off from chasing my dreams to start a girl’s junior hockey league. I found myself constantly advocating for the betterment of women’s sports, trying to change and grow a sport that I loved so much. I wanted to see success for kids that didn’t have the best resources. I wanted to make a home for girls that couldn’t afford prep school like myself, and I succeeded. Midway through that year, I was approached by a former BU teammate Kaleigh Fratkin to try out for the National Women’s Hockey league. A professional women’s hockey league that was officially going to pay its players first, unlike my CWHL playing experience. I got a spark in my eye, and it ignited the fire in my stomach. I would try just one more time. I believed in the power of women’s hockey and I just had to give myself one more opportunity to pave and pioneer for the betterment of my sport.

Photo by Michelle Jay

I was offered an unpaid practice players position. I was offered a spot on a team located in southern Connecticut, a three-hour drive from my life in Boston Massachusetts, and as this story goes… I took it. I applied for full-time jobs, I packed my bags, I kissed my mom goodbye and I moved to southern CT. One of our players got hurt last season, so I played a fair amount. I was a quiet stay at home defender, I got no points and I loved every single moment of it. I was accepted into a hockey community with open arms, and the work I did outside of the rink was equally notable to the work I did on the ice. I was able to use my platform for philanthropy and bringing more respect to the name of Professional Women’s Ice Hockey. This is the beginning of my second season with the CT Whale; I have a full-time job, I am a fan favorite on social media, I often skip sleeping to help fight for the vitality of the league, I often do our Color Commentary when I healthy scratch, and I work the tireless job of being a practice player and ensuring my teammates are ready for puck drop. I have heard no so many times, had the door to hockey success slammed in my face so many times. I was cut twice, heartbroken by more healthy scratch reports, yet my name still resides in the Hockey Hall of Fame. So now, as we struggle for viewership, sponsorship, and acceptance in the professional sports community I laugh to myself at the journey I have had to see success. This is nothing. We will constantly fight for the platform to be heard and seen, Women’s Hockey will succeed. I will not let it fail.

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2 Comments
  • Jenn Novesky
    Posted at 13:05h, 16 February Reply

    Anya Battaglino is a fixture in the NWHL -whether it be on the ice or in the stands with fans. You should be sooooo proud – we are of you!

  • Wayne Grumney
    Posted at 11:02h, 18 February Reply

    Wonderful story, wonderful young lady! Love her.

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