CALGARY – It's Stacey Scott's fifth year playing for the Mustangs, making this year's nationals the last time she will play with her friends as a team.
Last year, her parents were in Hawaii for their 25th wedding anniversary when Stacey was battling it out at the nationals. This year, their purple colours can be seen proudly cheering on number 88 from the stands at the Martin MacPhail Centre in Calgary.
Terry Scott has been coaching his daughter since the age of five, when she first expressed her interest in hockey. Whether it was young Stacey playing for the London Devilettes or 22-year-old Stacey playing for the Western Mustangs, Terry will always see a piece of himself in his daughter. "Play your best and always keep your emotions off of the ice," is what Scott constantly reminded his daughter, the way he used to remind himself.
Although it's been a long five years playing varsity sport, Terry knows that hockey is not tucked away for Stacey. However, he will certainly miss being a part of the hockey culture at Western.
"When she gets up on Tuesday morning, there's no practice to look forward to. The structure of the whole thing kind of changes for her," he said. "We'll miss her hockey friendships. All of the rips. All of the good times."
Despite leaving many younger teammates next year, Terry recognizes the important leadership role Stacey played on the team. He believes it was important for her to take on a strong supportive role after the coaching transition last fall. Coach Chris Higgins and Dave Barrett used to co-head coach in 2014-2015; however, Higgins left the job to Barrett last fall.
Different structures and systems were added this year that were evidently working for them during this year's playoffs. The head coach of the women's hockey team relies on his seniors to be role models and continue encouraging the team leading up the nationals.
"[Stacey is an] exceptional teammate, always wanting to improve upon her game and [she] sets a fine example for our younger players on how they should conduct themselves," Barrett said. "She is an absolutely wonderful individual. She's got a tremendous sense of humour. She's one of those people that tells jokes and doesn't smile and you're not sure actually if she's telling a joke or not but she's a very funny person."
Since the women's hockey team won the Canadian Interuniversity Sport title last year, they came in hoping for a repeat; however, they were defeated in the first game by the Saint Mary's Huskies 1–0. Nonetheless, Stacey continued to encouraged her teammates, only she does it in a different way than traditional pep talks.
"I'm not a motivational speaker but I try to joke around with the [young players and] make them feel like they're part of the team," Stacey said. "I get them to get involved to keep things light so that they're not as nervous."
Stacey's last five years have been jam packed with numerous achievements.
In her first season in 2011-12, Stacey scored four goals in seven games in the OUA playoffs while also leading the team in scoring in the regular season with 27 points in 26 games. Her second year brought just as impressive numbers, when she scored four goals and four assists in the playoffs and again led the team with 27 points in the season.
The Scott name was becoming popular in her third year when she netted seven goals and added 10 assists in a season that was also limited by injuries. Last year, she chimed in as a leader and helped propel the team to the CIS championship title, the first in the history of the women's hockey program.
This season, Stacey helped get her team back into the CIS championships when they finished second in Ontario. Unfortunately, the defending champions couldn't muster any goals in their 1–0 loss to the Saint Mary's Huskies and subsequently lost again in their consolation semifinals 3–1 against the host Calgary Dino's.
Now that the team is making its way back to London from Calgary, the big question hitting every senior on the team is: What's next?
"I'm not ready to join the adult world yet... I'm down to playing next year still but I don't know where yet," she said. "It's scary thinking you're not there anymore. You could go on the rink at anytime during the season and see the girls hanging around or in the dressing room and you always had a support system."
Despite having many friends around, one of Stacey's number one supporters is her mother, Heather. It all began when Stacey was glued to the television at the age of five, watching her local Toronto Maples leafs playing.
"She was fascinated by the strategy and she said, 'One day I want to play daddy.' He said 'well, you have to ask your mom,' " Heather said. "I said okay, but [explained] that you have to play with girls."
Heather was more than content with Western's supportive learning environment after letting her daughter go under Western's wing. However; it's time for another goodbye as the Scott family come to terms with the end of Stacey's university career, along with the end for many other traditions that come with it.
"We have a tradition of a big hug at the end of the game," Heather said. "She'll come up and I jump in on her and wrap my legs around the waist and give her a big sweaty hug."
Nonetheless, Heather is embracing the changes because she's proud of her daughter for leaving such a large impact on the younger players on the team. Heather recalls many parents approaching her during post game warm ups and expressing their delight over her daughters ambition to encourage others.
Katelyn Gosling is another senior player leaving the team and not only is Stacey her buddy, but her best friend and roommate. Gosling has been playing with Stacey for 10 years, ever since they were young Devilettes together. Even though Gosling is unsure about the future of their hockey careers coming together again, she will cherish the last five years together at Western.
"We've seen each other grow in different ways. We have become close," Gosling said. "We have learned a lot about each other and just how important each person is no matter what they are, who they are and what they bring to the team."
Gosling hopes to play in the Canadian Women's Hockey League next year alongside some potential Mustangs. As for her roommate Stacey, playing in the CWHL is also a option; however, playing in Europe or simply the taking a break sounds appealing as well.
Although many senior players will no longer wear that purple and white jersey, the sportsmanship and camaraderie on the team will forever be engrained in their memories.
"You forget the games, you forget the scores," Stacey said. "But it's the people that you come in contact with that make the biggest difference."