Having added to the foundation established by a previous generation of women that helped build the modern resurgence of women’s hockey, Jaclyn Hawkins is helping to propel the game into an exciting new dimension. Friendly and kind-hearted, the game is a great deal richer for her involvement and her profound appreciation for the game only adds to her outstanding authenticity and sincerity.
Raised in the Ottawa, Ontario suburb of Manotick, Hawkins’ career has taken her to several elite levels of competition. From a record-breaking run with the University of Connecticut Huskies (where she graduated as the all-time leading scorer), her professional career would take her to both sides of the Atlantic.
From competing with the ZSC Lions in Zurich, Switzerland where she led the team in scoring in her inaugural season, she would become a charter member of the CWHL’s Boston Blades. As a side note, her first career CWHL goal came in a home game against the Brampton Thunder on December 17, 2011, against rookie netminder Liz Knox.
Although her career was abruptly shortened due to a wrist injury (she would play her final CWHL game on October 28, 2012 in Toronto) her enthusiasm for the game has never wavered. Although Hawkins has successfully transitioned to coaching, there are still elements of playing that she misses,
“I miss the camaraderie with teammates. Some of my fondest memories were from times in the locker room before and after games. I’m on the ice every day with my job at UConn so I get my fix that way, but that bonding time with teammates is what I miss most.”
Returning to the University of Connecticut for a second stint as a member of the coaching staff (she served originally in 2008-09), she shares her expertise with the forwards, while also assisting with recruiting and other off-ice initiatives. As the only female member of the staff, she is like a big sister and a mentor for the other players.
Since returning to the Huskies program, Hawkins has seen the program undergo a strong improvement. From a 3-win season in 2012-13, the club resurged in 2014-15 with an 11-win season that included a magical playoff run. Of note, the Huskies advanced to the Hockey East semifinals where Elaine Chuli posted 51 saves in a valiant performance, falling 3-1 to the Boston College Eagles.
Working with head coach Chris MacKenzie, Hawkins is determined to see the program return to their glory days. While the return to Connecticut certainly brings her storied career full circle, she shares what has been the best part,
“Being able to work at the University that you played for is an amazing opportunity. The best part has been helping rebuild it into a top 10 program. We know it will take some time, but UConn has all the resources we need to get back there.”
Outside of coaching, Hawkins is a very prominent figure in the game through the efforts of her superlative website, Women’s Hockey Life. A revolutionary resource which has helped to sophisticate key functions as networking, blogging and consultation on coaching tips and equipment, the site functions as a reference guide, archive and a source of entertainment.
In allowing players, coaches and fans (both female and male) to blog on her site, it allows them a sense of ownership in helping to share their insights on the game, while sharing information. While all the contributors have different goals, they are all unified in a sense of achievement, those overlapping threads weaving a rich tapestry.
The outstanding generosity of Hawkins has allowed others to tap into their knowledge and enthusiasm, excelling beyond any expectations, certainly stands as a key aspect in the growth of Women’s Hockey Life. In this respect, the vision of Hawkins allows a new clarity towards the game,
“The biggest change has been the amount of people reaching out to us wanting to get involved. We have over 100 players, coaches, and fans writing articles about our game and those involved in it. A huge growth from the 8 when we first started back in 2010.
For the first time, we also have an intern working with us this spring/summer with all of these amazing ideas to unify the women’s hockey world and the time to implement them. It’s an exciting time within WHL right now.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”