From Concordia’s Goal Line to Canada’s Front Lines

A Glimpse Into Concordia Stingers’ Goalie Madison Oakes’ Plans to Join the Armed Forces

Courtesy Liam Mahoney - Concordia Stingers

On Nov. 11, vivid red poppies filled the Ed Meagher arena to remember those who gave their lives to protect our nation.

Among the 190 attendees who rose to their feet for the singing of O Canada was Concordia Stingers women’s hockey goalie Madison Oakes. Oakes stood tall to honour the anthem for a country they hope to represent someday.

The 22-year-old first dreamt of joining the Canadian Armed Forces in the latter half of their rookie year, but they admitted to not having thought much of it before then. “I woke up in the morning and was like, ‘Huh, I never had that dream before,’” Oakes said.

Born into a family that revolved around sports, Oakes is the eldest of four, all of whom grew up with a pair of skates. Both of their parents were athletic, namely their mother, Denise Gereghty. Gereghty participated in the 1987 Pan American Games in Indianapolis as part of Canada’s swimming team. Like their mother, Oakes envisions wearing that same maple leaf in uniform.

“They’re someone that gives,” said Stingers’ head coach Julie Chu. “They give to their teammates, they give to others, and I think that’s a part of who they are.”

Chu recruited Oakes from the Oakville Jr. Hornets of the Provincial Women’s Hockey League in 2018. The Richmond Hill, Ont. native affirms that the team-first culture drew them to commit ahead of the start of the fall semester.

Oakes and their Stingers teammates attended several charity events organized by Chu, one of the more recent being a food drive with the Royal Canadian Navy in the St. Philip’s Anglican Church. Oakes said they feel fortunate to give back to their community, an initiative their head coach is committed to.

“I just enjoy being able to help people and then being able to see the effect that I can have on people’s lives,” Oakes said.

Oakes praised the work the Navy does like helping people in danger and distributing supplies during natural and human-made disasters, a process they see themselves being a part of.

The electrical engineering major felt a sense of duty over time and researched a few different positions in the Armed Forces before stumbling on signal technician.

The requirements to enter the reserve force consist of a ten-week training period, followed by a two-part program about electronics engineering and communication systems.

The top attribute they need to continue developing is discipline, which Oakes learned firsthand as an athlete. The other is sacrifice, according to Stingers’ captain Olivia Hale.

“With team sports, it’s really just about […] sacrificing yourself for your teammates around you to, at the end, win the game,” Hale explained. “That sacrifice […] to your sport is something that [Madison] can take onto that next level.” 

An all-class, selfless act is the best way Hale could describe Oakes. The blueliner, who debuted for the Stingers with Oakes, said they’ve grown a great deal over their four years, becoming a person to lean on for the entire team.

“They’re always caring for others and would give you the shirt off their back if you needed it,” Hale said of Oakes.

Oakes’ plan, which they clarified is subject to change, is to begin basic training this summer and volunteer while pursuing their studies. Until then, they still have some pucks to turn aside.

Before each game, Oakes glances at their helmet with four meaningful quotes etched on it. Each quote is from a person who has impacted them along their hockey journey, including one from Chu that reads, “We care about you, Maddy.” With such assurance, they gear up and set out.