Katherine Purchase Named Co-Captain of Stingers Hockey Team

Stingers Goaltender Looked to as Leader Despite Unusual Position

  • Katherine Purchase’s leaderhsip resonates with her teammates. Photo Daren Zomerman

Concordia Stingers goaltender Katherine Purchase was surprised, she said, when she was named co-captain of the women’s hockey team.

“I didn’t even know I could be chosen as captain,” said Purchase, who never thought that it could be a possibility.

Last year, coaches sat with Purchase to let her know they were considering her to be a leader of the team. Purchase wasn’t expecting to get a letter on her jersey, though—especially given The Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec regulations.

“I thought when they were announcing letters they’d just be like ‘Oh you know, and Kat will be part of the leadership group this year’. But they said I’d actually be a co-captain, and I didn’t even think that was possible.”

Even if these kinds of regulations weren’t a factor, it tends to be uncommon practice to name a goaltender captain, simply given the nature of the position.

“It’s a little funny for goaltenders because while they are part of the team, they tend to be in their own headspace a lot,” said Stingers head coach, Julie Chu.
Purchase does see herself as a leader on the team, but also pointed out the fact that a goalie can’t be the sole captain because of how separated they are from the players.

Leading On and Off the Ice

There are limitations for Purchase as a captain during gameplay situations as a result of her position. RSEQ rules state that goaltenders may not cross the blue line during a stoppage in play, unless being replaced by a back-up. This keeps her from being able to interact with officials in the event of an incident.

There is also the obstacle of not being able to handle matters on the bench, but in this case it might not be relevant. On-ice she has her co-captain, and Stingers defender Marie-Joelle Allard, as well as the team’s three assistant captains to handle any situations out of her hands.

There’s also the fact that leadership on-ice doesn’t only lend itself to games.

“We only play 20 games a season,” said Purchase. “90 per cent of our time spent together in a season is away from games.”

Keeping team practices and workouts in mind, and according to some of her teammates, she leads by example, proving herself to be extremely hardworking.

“It was the decision of her teammates and I think it was based on the tremendous athlete and teammate she is.” — Julie Chu

Stingers forward Claudia Dubois said Purchase is a leader not only in the locker room, but also on ice.

“She works hard every practice and in games, and she’s one of the most [hard-working members of the team].”
Off-ice, Purchase brings a positive energy to her teammates.

“I myself, try to keep people light,” she said. “You know some girls kind of take themselves too seriously and if they make a mistake they get really down on themselves, and I think my role is to pick people up and make sure they have a short memory.”

Overall, her coaches and teammates feel she is entirely deserving of the co-captaincy.

“It was never really my decision, it was the decision of her teammates and I think it was based on the tremendous athlete and teammate she is,” said Chu.

According to her teammates, her presence in the locker room is large and inviting. Her ability to keep calm and pick up teammates who are down on themselves is hugely important, a testament to her leadership skills.

“Kath is one of the role models on the team. […] She’s fun to be around. Her voice has a big impact in the locker room,” said Dubois. “She’s also accountable and she leads the team to success,” said Dubois.

A Positive Outlook

Having been on the team for three years now, Purchase noticed a vast improvement on the way the girls perform.

“I find the last two years we’ve always had tough starts to the season, where it’s just tough to get motivated,” she said. “This season is going really well, at the beginning of the year we struggled in some games but overall our record is miles better than it has been in the last couple of years so that’s really good, and the crazy thing is that we still have a lot of room for improvement.”

She noted that during some games, the team doesn’t play to their full capacity, not capitalizing on all chances they get. Yet they still manage to pull off wins consistently. It was only recently that the team suffered their first set of back-to-back losses, only to pull out a big shootout win in the following game versus the Université de Montréal Carabins.

Looking forward to playoffs, it could be anybody’s game.

“We’re not going to get too far ahead of ourselves,” said Purchase. “We have to take it one game at a time—every game counts,”

In terms of where Concordia might end up in the standings, Purchase is unsure, as we all should be given the tight nature of the league right now. Every team has beaten every other team at least once this year, and so things are on even ground.

“I have absolutely no idea who we’re going to end up playing in playoffs,” she said. “Anybody who tries to predict who’s going to end up where in the standings has no idea what they’re talking about.”

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