Representing the extraordinary possibilities of women in sport, Amber Bowman is helping to shatter barriers, encouraging young girls to follow their dreams. Her wide-ranging achievements are part of an impressive legacy, testament to her athletic gifts.
Her first impact in sports came via ice hockey, competing at both the NCAA and Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) levels. Of note, Bowman had the rare distinction of playing with three different CWHL teams in the Greater Toronto Area; the Brampton Thunder, the Burlington Barracudas and the Toronto Furies.
The 2013 Clarkson Cup postseason would serve as Bowman’s final appearance at the CWHL level. Suffering a hand injury in a round robin game, Bowman was stoic, playing valiantly as the Furies prevailed in the third place game against Brampton. Another aspect that encompassed Bowman suiting up for the Furies was the fact that she was reunited with a pair of former NCAA teammates.
During her collegiate years of NCAA hockey, Bowman had been one of the team captains for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Playing alongside goaltender Erika Vanderveer and blueliner Tessa Bonhomme, their hockey paths would cross again in Toronto. As a side note, Natalie Spooner (who was in her rookie season with the Furies) was also an alumna of Ohio State hockey, adding to the Buckeye pride that defined that Furies season.
Although Bowman’s blueline presence is missed in CWHL circles, she is still making an impact at the rink. Competing at the Senior A level, north of Toronto, with the Aurora Panthers organization, it brings Bowman’s remarkable hockey career full circle.
Prior to competing in the NCAA, Bowman competed with the Aurora Panthers at their Provincial Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) level, the highest stage of junior girl’s hockey in the province of Ontario. As the Panthers feature teams at various age skills and levels, Bowman is also proud to be part of the Panthers family once again by sharing her knowledge of the game with a new generation of young girls, serving as a skills coach.
As a player, Bowman had the opportunity to experience another milestone. Having spent 24 seasons in numerous levels of hockey, she had the opportunity to win a title at the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association (OWHA) level in 2015 with the Panthers. Getting the chance to remain in hockey is very enjoyable for Bowman, as the rink provides reminiscence of a fun time, when hockey was a formative period,
“I am extremely grateful that I get the chance to play the game I love. Hockey has been a huge part of my life and still continues to be with playing and working with the Aurora Panthers organization as a skills coach/mentor.
You never know when the last opportunity as an athlete might be in sports. So having played this past season and winning a Sr. A Provincial Championship was fantastic. Winning NEVER gets old, and it is even greater when our team was the underdog!”
In addition to her heroics on the ice, Bowman is also part of another pioneering generation of women redefining traditional norms. As a firefighter for Central York Fire Services (north of Toronto), Bowman was one of the first four female firefighters hired by Central York.
To serve as a firefighter incorporates another element of heroism. It can be similar to walking a tightrope, a chasm of risk where an extremely crucial attention to detail is the difference between failure and success.
For many generations, the heroic archetype of firefighter was one typically reserved for men. Women like Bowman are transcendent yet assiduous, reimagining the potential of women, shaping them into the role models that young girls need.
Bowman’s efforts as a firefighter have also allowed her the opportunity to extend her athletic career. At the 2012 and 2013 editions of the World Firefighter Challenge, Bowman captured gold in all four catetgories eligible for female competitors: female individual, female tandem, coed tandem and relay events.
Sharing her experiences via social media, it leads to a sincere connection with fans. Reverence and compassion intertwine, crafting a genuine portrait which is masterfully executed by Bowman’s significance. With The Sports Network (TSN) broadcasting the 2014 World Firefighting Challenge, it increased the awareness of Bowman’s achievements. It was the illumination of a growing sport, integral to its future.
During the 2014 edition of the World Firefighting Challenge, Bowman added to her long list of accomplishments by establishing a personal best in the Female Individual World Championship Race. Perhaps more impressive was her collaboration, by winning gold with fellow Canadians Carla King Penman and Jalene Cartwright in the Female Tandem Race. The chance to see them reach their potential was just as satisfying for a jubilant Bowman,
“I am so proud of being Canadian and having others be apart of a successful team. These two girls inspire me each day to become a better firefighter. They push me to demonstrate what strong females are capable of doing.
There are a ton of great female role models but to have two team mates that are as strong and motivating as them, it is very unique!”
Expanding her ambitions, Bowman has also added the title of entrepreneur. The founder of Fit by Fire, it has enabled her to positively impact the lives of others with a newfound approach to fitness.
“Fit by Fire was started because my clients/friends/family/community wanted to “Train the Way I Trained” for Firefit and my career. I was having, and still find, road blocks towards finding a sponsor to help me achieve my goals and participate in the Firefighting Challenges.”
Having evolved into a labor of love, Fit by Fire is an extension of Bowman’s vision, where she is committed to helping others in reaching their potential. Considering the level of discipline and focus required to be a world-class athlete, Bowman is aiming to share those same values and processes for a greater good. The success of Fit by Fire has also reciprocated into an opportunity to enable her to maintain her successful run of dominance at the World Firefighting Combat Challenges.
“Fit by Fire has allowed me to help people train and be motivated by my style of fitness. The funds from the fitness have helped me compete at Canadian Nationals and Worlds in Fire Combat Challenge over the past few years.
It is still my vision to continue with this style of business/sponsorship program for my local community. I want to supply a service of fitness, hockey skills, coaching and motivation to the local people/athletes while generating funds for female athletes like myself to compete in their “Passion/Sport”. This would assist the females to participate in their sports without having the financial stress added to their preparation.”
Nothing shapes sports and masters the mythology of its athletes as profoundly as victories, with the numbers used in the measurements of such accomplishments. While Bowman’s accomplishments make her a compelling figure, crafting a remarkable legacy in the process, the most cherished aspect is her firm devotion to sporting equality.
One of the most underrated female sporting superstars in Canada, Bowman emphasizes perseverance. Her greatest success may be the fact that her accomplishments show a future generation of young women that they can face boundless opportunities.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”