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From Player to Coach: Nursing Student Helps Coach Huskie Women’s Hockey

Assignments, labs and exams keep students busy, but for Vanessa Frederick, balancing hockey and her education is a priority. Vanessa, a full time 3rd year NEPS student, played goal for the U of S women’s Huskie hockey team for four of her five years of eligibility and is now part of the coaching staff. She played her first year of University hockey for the University of Calgary Dinos, before transferring home to Saskatoon. After her third year with the Huskies and fourth year of eligibility, Vanessa was accepted into the NEPS program at the Regina site and faced one of the most difficult decisions to date — move to Regina for nursing or stay in Saskatoon to play out her fifth and final year of hockey? She chose her education with the hope she could transfer back to Saskatoon and play out her last year, which she was able to do in the second year of her program.

Playing hockey since Grade 4, Vanessa has always been very involved in the sport. “There was a year I remember playing on about 4 different teams, as I had my club team, provincial team and then I was picked up to play in a higher division for two additional teams. This made for a lot of ice time!” Vanessa has a lot of fond hockey memories — “...winning provincials, playing for the U18 Team Saskatchewan and playing on a team that went to the Czech Republic for a tournament where we played the Czech National Team and the German National B team and I was awarded tournament MVP!” When asked what her favorite Huskie moment as a player was, Vanessa said, “My favorite memory comes from my first year back in Saskatoon. We travelled to the University of Alberta, who at this time hadn’t lost a home game in 8 years, and despite them outshooting us 35-14, we won 5-2 and broke their at home winning streak! That is one memory I will never forget. I was also able to shut out Alberta for one of the first times ever in Panda’s hockey history, which was a pretty phenomenal feeling.”

Vanessa is now finished her eligibility and has decided to move on to coaching. “The thing I look forward to the most about my new role is seeing the program develop and succeed. In the past, the women’s hockey program rarely made playoffs, but in the last 4—5 years, the team has always ended up in the 3rd—4th spot in Canada West. The rookies that come into the program now have a lot more skills, so I’m also excited to see how women’s hockey in general develops. As one of the goalie coaches, I hope I can develop the play of young goalies and have the same impact my coaches have always had on me.”

Before enrolling in the NEPS program in 2010, Vanessa was finishing up her Bachelor of Psychology and considering a profession as an EMT, but decided she would enjoy nursing much more. “I know a lot of great nurses who have come out of this program, so I knew it would be a great experience”. Vanessa goes on to say, “The College of Nursing was very accommodating. They were extremely helpful arranging my schedule, so I wouldn’t have to miss any important classes while gone on road trips and they were also very helpful when I would need to change a midterm exam or project due date because I was away. The hardest thing was when we made playoffs because I didn’t know my schedule. I made sure all my instructors knew the situation and as a result, everyone was unbelievably supportive.”

After completing her program, Vanessa would absolutely LOVE to work in emergency nursing and continue to be involved with hockey.