Rising sophomore Maryna Macdonald spent part of her summer teaching hockey skills to kids in her hometown of Port Alberni, British Columbia.
What were you involved in this summer?
I was working West Coast Prep Camp for about a month in Port Alberni, British Columbia, my hometown. I have been with the camp for 10 years now as a camper and instructor and have been a member of the staff as a captain (last year) and a fitness instructor (this year) for the past two years.
How did you find out about the opportunity?
I have been doing the camp since I was little and always wanted to work it when I got old enough.
What made you want to serve as a teacher/role model for young girls playing hockey?
Having attended the camp I was fortunate enough to have captains that were huge role models for me, but they were all males. They played in the BCHL, and later moved on to NCAA Division I men's hockey and one of them is playing for Minnesota in the NHL. I wanted to be like them and make it to the next level but I was never fortunate enough to have a female captain show me the opportunities that were out there for girls. I wanted to be that for the girls that are in the camp today, show them that there are so many opportunities out there for them to continue their education and hockey at a level that is arguably the highest for women in the sport.
What was challenging about your role and how did you overcome those challenges?
I had very long days, I would be at the rink from 7 a.m. to sometimes 10 p.m. with small breaks. Going four weeks with only Sunday off, it was sometimes tough to get up in the morning. Knowing that if I could make a small difference to one person that day made it all worth it. As much as I was teaching them, they were also teaching me. They reminded me why I got into the game and why I love it so much. It wasn't long ago that I was that young, 10-year old girl looking to get on the ice and push herself every chance she gets strictly for the love of the game and that was so refreshing!
What did you enjoy most about the experience?
My favorite part of working Prep Camp is the community. I became so close with my coworkers and some of the people I have met at this camp over the years are my closest friends. The connections you make with players and staff are truly incredible!
Did the campers ask a lot about Harvard? What were they most interested in hearing about?
Yes, they always asked about Harvard, it was kind of funny. When they found out it was true I go there they were so surprised. The main questions from the kids that I got were 'are you smart? Is Harvard hard?' and 'Did you meet Lil' Pump?' There were some genuine questions, mostly from the girls, about what made me chose Harvard and how I ended up there. I always love to talk to the ones who are genuinely interested because they are entering recruitment time where those hard decisions need to be made and if I can be any help in that process that is what I want.
How do you see this experience translating to your future, either on or off the ice?
Learning how to communicate with superiors and bosses and also with kids ages 10 to 18 was one of the biggest takeaways. Each person has different needs and recognizing how to communicate with them is a skill that I found I was able to improve over the four weeks. Having fun with these kids was the biggest thing that I got to take away from this. Learning to love the game again and realize it's just a game and that it's meant to be fun!