Laura Stacey ’16 looks back on her Big Green career
Hailing from Kleinberg, Ontario, Canada, Laura Stacey ’16 always knew that hockey was her sport.
Stacey started on the ice as a figure skater when she was three or four years old. But she hated figure skating, and recalls sitting on the ice and crying as she watched the boys play hockey.
“I kept fighting it, and finally my parents let me play hockey,” she said. “I loved it, and have never looked back ever since.”
Stacey then continued her budding hockey career as a member of the Toronto Junior Aeros of the Provincial Women’s Hockey League, one of the biggest leagues in Canada. In the league, she was able to learn from and compete against top players from the same age group. The experienced coaches also opened her eyes up to possibilities in the United States, and after official visits to five schools, she chose Dartmouth for its intimate hockey team dynamic.
“I just wanted to find a place where I could call home and fall in love with,” she said. “What set Dartmouth apart was the culture of family that the team had.”
Since arriving at Dartmouth, Stacey has left an enduring legacy in the ice hockey record books. Bursting onto the scene in her rookie year, she scored 22 points on eight goals and 14 assists, concluding the successful season as the team’s Rookie of the Year. While she excelled on the ice, she found classroom life to be a bit of an adjustment.
“The school was the biggest shock for me,” Stacey said. “I had done pretty well in high school, but coming here, I was no longer one of the smarter kids in class, and I had to get used to accepting lower grades and working a lot harder to get grades that I really wanted.”
Using her rookie campaign as a learning experience and seeking advice from tutors and teammates, she learned to balance academics with her social life and hockey.
Throughout her ice hockey career at Dartmouth, Stacey continued to build upon her brilliant rookie year, shattering records and becoming a captain in the process.
“On the ice, she’s incredible competitive [and] very talented athletically,” former head coach Mark Hudak said. “She’s also a very good teammate and leader. She’s also someone who cares deeply about the team that she’s on and her teammates.”
Reflecting on her career, two particular games stand out to Stacey. One of them was during her rookie year, when the team played Harvard University. She fondly recalls the game as having an electric atmosphere and the largest supporting crowd during her four years at Dartmouth. The second was senior night of this season. Although the team had been frustrated and struggling all year, the team still beat Brown University 5-0.
Although Stacey never had the opportunity to fulfill her dream of winning an NCAA championship or an Ivy League title, she has made many lifelong friends from the team and learned determination.
“That determination is something I’ve definitely taking into the real world,” she said. “As a leader of the team that struggled to score goals and get wins, it definitely opened my eyes that you can still be positive, still love the sport and do amazing things.”
Ailish Forfar ’16, Stacey’s teammate since high school and also a member of the Dartmouth women’s hockey team, noted that Stacey always stayed positive despite the losses and played a crucial role as a leader early on. This past season, the team finished 6-19-3 and fifth in the Ivy League.
Forfar said this season was a tough one, in which the team struggled to produce the results it wanted. Yet Stacey remained positive and motivated, Forfar said, leading the team by example and continuing to demonstrate her leadership abilities that emerged during her freshman year.
While playing hockey for Dartmouth, Stacey also competed as a member of the Canadian National Women’s Development Team, which provided lessons she took back to Dartmouth.
“It’s an honor to wear the Maple Leaf,” Stacey said. “Playing with the best people in the world, and bringing what I’ve learned from them and top coaches back to here definitely helps out. It’s always been my dream and I hope to continue on that path.”
Stacey’s humility, according to Forfar, defines her even more than her success.
“You wouldn’t know that she had such a great role on the [Canadian National Women’s Development Team] just by running into her on the street,” Forfar said. “As teammates, to see her go and win gold medals and then pretend that nothing happened almost, it was just like ‘Wow, we are really lucky to have her as a teammate.’ It never got to her head, and I think that’s why she’ll continue to be successful. She doesn’t take anything for granted, and she deserves it.”
Following her astounding hockey career at Dartmouth, Stacey looks to continue competing as part of the Canadian team. She already signed up for the Canadian Women’s Hockey League Draft, and wants to try out for the senior national team. Ultimately, she hopes to make the centralized roster for the Canadian Olympic team. A secondary option for Stacey is going to graduate school and using her economics degree to pursue a related career.
“Basically I have a year to train and do whatever I can to crack that roster and see what happens,” Stacey said. “Depending on what happens with the national team, I may consider going back to school and getting an MBA, and pursuing a career in sales and marketing [that is] related to sports.”