Emerance Maschmeyer Finds Solace in Goalie Coaching
Canadiennes Goalie Takes on Stingers Coaching Role After Missing a Full-Time Olympic Opportunity,
It was an opportunity that the Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team and head coach Julie Chu could not pass up.
An elite goalie was in town and things weren’t going according to plan.
Just off the plane from Calgary, Emerance Maschmeyer didn’t expect to stay in Montreal for very long. Acquired by Les Canadiennes de Montréal of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League in the summer from the Calgary Inferno, the 23-year old thought she would be part of Team Canada and leave for South Korea to compete in the Winter Olympics.
Instead, she was called by the Canadian management staff and told she would be an alternate for the country’s Olympic preparation. Essentially, she would be on-call in the event that a goalie from the starting roster would get injured.
“It was probably the most disappointing call I’ve ever received,” said Maschmeyer. “Obviously, it’s been my goal for my entire life. It’s the team I wanted to make and expected to make this year, but unfortunately with sports you can’t really control everything.”
The Bruderheim, Alberta native is the first to admit that she was not expecting to spend her winter season in Montreal. However, new opportunities popped up for her.
Enter Julie Chu. As part of Les Canadiennes’ extended roster, once she knew that Maschmeyer would be coming over, she called to welcome her and to gauge her coaching interests.
“I was more taking the chance to see if she had the time and availability to volunteer and help out with our team,” recalled Chu.
With that in the back of her mind, Maschmeyer decided to accept Chu’s offer, putting the Team Canada disappointment behind her. Instead of preparing for South Korea, she would stay in Montreal guarding the net for Les Canadiennes and helping other goalies do the same for the Stingers. It was a humbling experience in the young goalie’s career.
“It’s one of those things where [there’s] a lot of adversity, and I’m finding a way to have a thicker skin in all of this,” she said. “You can’t be sad about everything, you [have to] use it as motivation. For me, motivation builds character, that’s how you see a person’s true character. I don’t want to dwell on it and not improve my game.”
In a true transition year, Maschmeyer isn’t dwelling on anything and takes her new responsibilities just as seriously as continuing to improve with a schedule she calls “a little unique, in a way.” In addition to her regular Les Canadiennes practices and games, she adds another weekly practice session for herself, on top of her coaching duties with Concordia.
Coaching The Same Age Bracket
Having graduated from Harvard University only two years ago, Maschmeyer is still quite fresh off the “college experience” the players she now coaches are living through. She’s coaching players just as old as she is.
“It’s unique and I think it brings a different way that I can talk to the girls. Of course you’re a coach but you can go: ‘Okay, let’s talk,’” said Maschmeyer. “They feel comfortable because they are around my age and I just went through college, so I have that under my belt.”
This was exactly what Chu had in mind when she initially called her fellow, albeit younger, Harvard alumnus in the first place.
“That’s something as coaches, when we get older and transition out of our playing days into our coaching days, not that you lose it, but you’re not as fresh in it,” said Chu.
“You can’t be sad about everything, you [have to] use it as motivation. For me, motivation builds character, that’s how you see a person’s true character.” — Emerance Maschmeyer
“Emerance helps to bring us that freshness that is a little closer to the players’ age that lets them understand that we go through the same thing. It’s okay if we’re struggling, it’s okay if it’s tough. But we’re going to push through.”
For Frédérique Labelle, a fifth-year goalie with the Stingers, it’s great to be able to relate to a coach with similar struggles but who doesn’t take her talents for granted, either.
“We definitely do [relate to her] and also the fact that she’s a prospect for Team Canada doesn’t put her on higher level. She doesn’t look down on us,” said Labelle. “We’re the same age and it feels good to just talk about what she’s going through and [about] us.”
Labelle also enjoys the fact that Maschmeyer brings elements of her professional experience in the CWHL to Stingers practices.
“We talk about her games and how they went and we talk about stuff that we’re working on in practice,” said Labelle. “She is also practicing so she brings the drills that she feels could benefit us during our practice. It’s a big network and we’re taking advantage of her still playing.”
According to Maschmeyer, the goaltending position has been in constant evolution over the last ten years. With new techniques constantly becoming available, her approach leans toward sharing the wealth and receiving feedback from it.
“For me, when I learn something I want to bring it back and say ‘What do you guys think about this?’” said Maschmeyer. “Maybe for some goalies it works, maybe for others it doesn’t. For me it’s never a definite answer for goaltending.”
With the Stingers, Maschmeyer has the opportunity to say that she shares the goalie coaching job with Canadian goaltending legend and three-time Olympic gold medalist Kim St. Pierre. The two handle the primary goalie coaching responsibilities in practices on different days and behind the bench during games, but she admits having been starstruck when they met for the first time.
Walking into the locker room and seeing names on the stalls, she thought “Oh my god, my name is alongside all of these names, it’s unbelievable!” Proudly sharing that she works with them in conversation, people are often pleasantly surprised. “They are like, ‘What, you’re working with her?’”
Chu has a great tandem of goaltending coaches since it’s a position she admits is not her strong suit, Chu listens into both coaches from time to time, looking to draw from their expertise.
“Kim was one of the most mentally strong goalies I’ve ever played against or been around,” said Chu. “Now we also have Emerance, who also has that edge,” ultimately being great role models for all the players.
“We had really good goalie coaches before, but the fact that I’m looking at Kim and [Maschmeyer] as mentors; they’re taking us under their wing and it’s inspiring,” added Labelle. “Even though we’re at university level—and I know for me it’s not going to go further than that—the fact that they’re bringing this intensity and all their knowledge to their practice is awesome.”
With names like Chu and St. Pierre along with other Les Canadiennes teammates Karell Emard, Caroline Ouellette and Cassandra Poudrier coaching the Stingers, Maschmeyer has a solid support system in Montreal. Heading to the mid-point of her transition year in the city, she’s looking forward to what is coming next.
“For me it’s about finding new challenges and new opportunities that come with those challenges,” said Maschmeyer. “In a way, you’re learning and it’s taking a step forward even though it didn’t seem like it at the time.”