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Black History Month – Q & A with Alyssa White

by Ezra Ginsburg  |  February 28, 2023 10:15 am

In August 2019, Winnipeg’s Alyssa White become the youngest player to ever make the Canadian Women’s National Para Hockey Team at 14 years old. Three and half years later, the Grade 12 student at Glenlawn Collegiate has even bigger goals as she continues to inspire the next generation of women’s sledge hockey players and girls across Manitoba and the rest of the country.

Hockey Manitoba’s Ezra Ginsburg recently spoke with Alyssa White about making the Women’s National Team, the inaugural World Para Ice Hockey Challenge, her training, Black History Month, and her future plans.

Hockey Manitoba: How did you originally get involved in para hockey?

Alyssa White: So I got involved originally from watching it on TV from the 2014 Paralympic Games. I knew I wanted to try it because I had never done any form of hockey before and I didn’t know that there was para hockey out there that I could play. So then I got in contact with people because I was doing para swimming at the time and some of my teammates from swimming used to play sledge and we got in contact with people and I went out to a camp in August of 2018 and fell in love with it.

Hockey Manitoba: In 2019, at the age of 14, you were already a member of the Women’s National Team. How did that come about?

Alyssa White: So I started in August of 2018 and I made the national team by August of 2019. I got involved with them through one of my teammates in Manitoba, Corinne Wengi, who had been to camps and had been involved with the team. She knew that I needed to go out to camps to meet the coaches from the national team to help me develop as a player. I actually went to the London Blizzard Tournament in January of 2019 and we had a women’s team that went out to that. I didn’t know anybody except for Corinne.

Hockey Manitoba: You represented Canada at the inaugural World Para Ice Hockey World Challenge in Green Bay, Wisconsin from August 23-29, 2022. What was that experience like for you?

Alyssa White: We were definitely really excited going into it. We were rebuilding our team. Over COVID, we lost quite a few players to other sports and overall, just not wanting to compete anymore so we had to do a team rebuild. So we weren’t really sure how we were going to do going into Worlds but we ended up being really happy with silver. Obviously we wanted gold but we’ll take the silver and we played our hearts out.

Hockey Manitoba: How have you seen yourself develop as a player with the National team?

Alyssa White: I’ve seen myself develop quite a bit as you can imagine. I went to my first Women’s National Camp in 2019 and I’m still apart of it today. Even learning how to stickhandle and how to raise the puck, simple things like that, I didn’t know before meeting my coaches and getting involved with the Women’s National Team. and to get the right setup of my sled, it has helped me tremendously. I have definitely seen growth. One of my biggest things that is very obvious that I have grown is I have been racing one of my coaches, who competed with the Men’s National Team, his name is Derek Whitson. I’ve been racing him since my first camp in 2019 and have wanted to beat him for so long and I finally beat him in the Fall.

Hockey Manitoba: What is your training like while also being in school?

Alyssa White: So I practice with our local teams every single week. We usually have a practice on Fridays and then I usually have a game on Saturday. I coach on Sunday while also playing on Sunday and then I do off-ice training throughout the week as well.

Hockey Manitoba: How would you like to see para hockey grow?

Alyssa White: One of the biggest things is it is made for people with physical disabilities but it doesn’t necessarily stop there. Any person can play it, it’s very inclusive . My women’s national team, we aren’t in the Paralympics and I would love to see us go to the Paralympics one day. That’s why our World Challenge was so big because that’s the first step to getting us to the Paralympics. You do need I think six to eight countries and you have to have a World Cup before you go to the Paralympics. So we are getting there slowly but surely. It’s more so that there’s not enough females out there currently and enough countries that offer a women’s national team as an option.

Hockey Manitoba: What does Black History Month mean to you personally?

Alyssa White: In the past couple of years obviously, it’s been very prominent with everything that has happened in the world but I don’t think that it should stop and I think it’s important that we have this and that we recognize other cultures. Yes we’re in Canada but Canada is very diverse and we welcome so many different ethnicities. I hope that I represent black women out there very well.

Hockey Manitoba: Who are some of the black athletes that you have looked up to?

Alyssa White: My biggest person that I look up to is Sarah Nurse. I feel like that it’s a given. She’s incredible. I’m a huge fan of hers and she’s a huge inspiration to me. She is who I want to become, just a para hockey version.

Hockey Manitoba: Do you ever think of yourself as a role model and what does it mean to you that people are looking up to?

Alyssa White: If I can be that inspiration to even just one kid, I would love to. I would love to be an inspiration to people. I want to be a role model for people to look up to and to realize that they can do what I do and that they can get to the point where I am. If you put in the work and you can put in the effort, you can basically do anything. Representation is a huge thing and being able to see it, allows you to believe that you can do it.

Hockey Manitoba: What are your future plans in para hockey and school?

Alyssa White: My future plans are to obviously make it to the Paralympics. I would love to have women in the Paralympics and to be part of that first would be just amazing. That is my ultimate goal. Outside of para hockey, I am going to be attending university next year at the U of M or hopefully at least. I want to become a veterinarian. That has been my dream since I was nine years old. That and being a Paralympian has been my goal and I’m on the road to becoming it.

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