Wheaton on the Ice: Q&A with freshman Anastasia Lyon

December 7, 2017
When did you first get involved with the sport of hockey?
I’ve played hockey since i was six years old. I started skating when I was two or three and then the first time I played hockey I fell in love with it.
When did you start playing for a higher level? Was high school hockey a transition for you?
In eighth grade I was playing U19 for a travel team, and my freshman year of high school I went straight into the varsity program. That was just the natural thing to do because I had already been playing at a high level. During my senior year of high school, I actually went to Alberta, Canada to play juniors. That was like even higher than high school, around college level.
Why did you come to Wheaton, a school that does not have a varsity women’s or men’s hockey team?
Kind of a long story, but basically when I was a high school senior I was applying to a lot of colleges in the Northeast and Midwest [of the U.S.]. I was talking to a lot of hockey coaches for mainly DIII school, but God really called me to take a gap year. Then I did not go to any of those schools that I applied to, and I turned down scholarships. I did a discipleship school in Washington. Over the course of that year, I felt called to Wheaton. I was kind of confused, and asked God, “You know I love hockey and built this into me, why would you want me at Wheaton? They don’t have a women’s varsity team?” I let Him figure it out. I decided to come here and talked to the men’s coach, and I basically just told him the story of how I got here, how I had been playing, asked if I could play for him. Here I am.”
When you first got to Wheaton was it one of the first things that came to your mind to ask the club hockey coach if you could play? 
The same week that I put down the deposit to come to Wheaton, I emailed the coach. I told him, “Hey, if I am going to Wheaton, I want hockey to be a part of my time here. This seems to be the only option right now.” I emailed him to see if it would be a possibility, and it was definitely the forefront of my mind. I ended up meeting up with him when I actually got here. It was always a “we’ll see” situation. I was really hoping to be playing, but I was not sure until the first week of practice.
What was the team dynamic like when you first showed up on the ice?
It was interesting showing up and only having guys there. I’ve played with guys before, but never on an exclusively guys team. There were a lot of uncertainties, and it was a little awkward at first. We had to feel a lot of stuff out, and find how I would best fit into the team. After they saw me play, there was a feeling of “we can have her along for the ride.” It settled down a month in, and it got more and more normal. I feel more comfortable with my place on the team and how I fit the team dynamic everyday.

Photo by McKenzie Gallagher

Is there a lot of grey area with the physicality of the hockey games you play because you’re a girl and checking is not allowed in girls hockey but this is also a guys club league?
In all level of girls hockey checking is not allowed. You can bump someone around or gently knock them into the boards. It’s a physical game, but you can get a penalty for throwing a huge hit in girls hockey. Since I’m in a men’s league, it’s just assumed that checking in allowed. I’ve gotten creamed a few times, and that’s totally fine. I can throw hits just as much as they can. Just because there’s a girl on the team, the rules don’t change at all on the ice during a game. Most people have been playing for a long time, and it’s just how the game works. I learned to check when I was 12, even though it’s not allowed in girls hockey. At that point, I played with guys, and I was learning how to check, take a hit, stuff like that. I’m pretty used to it.
How would you describe the dynamic of being a Christian in the hockey world?
I grew up playing on teams with basically all non-Christians. It was kind of an anomaly for me to want to go to church on Sundays. I didn’t play for a guys team when I was younger because they had Sunday morning games, so that affected what teams I was on sometimes. Up until college, I was playing with all non-Christians. It was a weird dynamic to be a part of because I had my own personal convictions, but that was just the hockey culture that I experienced. Being at a Christian school, I can see the stark contrast between the secular school teams we play against and the Wheaton team. The guys here are upstanding, good guys, and I would not find that sort of team at essentially any secular school. The type of people hockey attracts and even how they conduct themselves or the language they use, it’s a very different way of viewing life than at a Christian school.
 
How would you describe the lack of minority in the sport?
Well it depends on what type of minority we’re talking about. There is not a lot of racial minority in the sport; hockey is a pretty white sport. There are lot of people of sexual minority in the sport; there are a lot of gay women hockey players.
 
How do you think God might be working through the attention you’re getting around campus and from your opponents?
After last year, when I was at my discipleship school. At random, I had this idea of coaching young kids from minorities and being able to have that team as a place where they could experience the love of Christ and be themselves. I have no idea how that would come together except through God’s orchestrating, but that’s something that I could see coaching in the future. That might be a way for me to let Him use my experience for his glory.

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