Q&A with women’s hockey captain Jessica Hartwick

Courtesy Stephen Kassim

Jessica Hartwick pulls away from an opposing player. The current Rams captain started her career with the team in 2011. (Courtesy Stephen Kassim)

Team captain Jessica Hartwick has started her fifth and final year with the Ryerson women’s hockey team. Last week, we heard from her friends and teammates on her career as captain and a Day 1 member of the team.

Here’s what Hartwick had to say about her experience on the team.

When did you first realize that you had a passion for hockey?

I think that I’ve always known that I really enjoyed hockey and I loved playing it. I’m not really sure what happened, but when I was in Grade 12 I just decided that this (was) something I wanted to keep doing.

Can you talk about some of the other sports you play?

I played soccer when I was younger. I also played softball, so like fast-pitch softball, and I was actually really good at that. I really liked it a lot. I think that if it wasn’t hockey that I was playing, it would definitely have been softball that I was playing.

What’s the balance like between hockey, school, your family, etc.?

It’s hard to balance a lot. Through my years here at Ryerson I’ve only taken about four classes a semester, that’s why I’m in my fifth year. Hockey-wise, it’s kind of like having a full-time job, on top of everything else. So you’re basically at the rink, at school, or you’re at the rink studying, and that’s pretty much all you do.

When it comes to family life, we always try to see our families as much as possible. My parents come to all my games whenever they can, my mom goes on every road trip, makes sure she sees every single game. So that’s the time that I see my family, is at the end of games, we all go out for dinner, we kind of interact that way. And then of course on Thanksgiving and Christmas, I do my best to go home for as long as possible.

What’s something interesting about you that people may not know?

I hate this question (laughs). I have a shoe obsession. I probably have at least 50 pairs of shoes in my little apartment down here in Toronto, and the number just keeps growing.

When you’re not on the ice, where can we find you?

In my free time, the little I have, mostly it’s just getting caught up on TV shows with my friends and stuff like that and just relaxing. Basically my favourite thing to do in my free time is pretty much lay in my bed, and that’s it. Maybe just get caught up on social media, the little things that you kind of don’t have time for during the day.

How do you feel you’ve grown, being on the team since day one?

As a person, when I first came in, a lot of times I just came in to play hockey and that was pretty much. I didn’t really have a big obligation to hockey. It was kind of just something I decided I wanted to do and I didn’t think  very much of it in that sense. But I think over the past few years, I’ve grown into caring not only about the team doing well, but also about myself doing well. And that’s not necessarily just on the ice, it’s  not just about scoring goals or anything like that, it’s just about being a better person in general. And you learn through team mates and you learn through ups and downs and through losing, a lot of losing, and those experiences make you see a bigger picture of what else is out there.

What has been your biggest struggle so far in playing hockey?

One of the biggest struggles a new team goes through is a lot of negative things happen, so losing, or just not doing as well as you know that you guys can do. So I think that that’s probably the biggest struggle, is trying to find a way to still make people want to be here, including myself too.

Finding a way for me, as my own person, to get through my struggles, but also as a leader, remembering that there’s 24 other girls who are struggling even more than I might be, and you have to be the one to kind of help them through it.

Where do you see the team going?

I think that in future they’re going to be a good program, it’s just we’re in a building process. It isn’t always the most fun thing to be in a building process because you have to go through a lot of ups and downs and a lot of roller-coaster rides but we have the potential to become a really strong and competitive program.

This article was published in the print edition of The Ryersonian on Nov. 25, 2015.

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