We recently had the joy of launching Women Hockey Life’s newest branch of their WHL network, WHL Gear. An online storefront where visitors can browse all of the fantastic apparel and gear Women’s Hockey Life has to offer. We reached out and had a chat with Jaclyn Hawkins, the founder, and president of Women’s Hockey Life, to discuss herself, the WHL network, and the future of the community.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I grew up playing hockey in Ottawa, ON, Canada. I played boys hockey until about the age of 13 and played one season with boys and girls. I transitioned to girls-only hockey around the time body checking came into play on the boy’s side. I then went to The Taft School in Watertown, CT where I played for their varsity hockey and soccer teams. I also played with the CT Polar Bears outside of Taft on the weekends. We won the National Championship with the Polar Bears in 2004, my senior year at Taft. I then accepted a full athletic scholarship to UCONN. Spent 4 years there, we took the team from a new NCAA D1 program to the top 10 in the country by the end of my senior year. I coached there for one season before heading to Zurich, Switzerland where I was paid to play and help coach young kids in Zurich. I came back to North America and accepted a position as the Director of Player Development with a youth organization in CT (CT Northern Lights). I stayed there for 3 seasons before heading back to my alma mater (UCONN) where I spent the next 5 years as an assistant coach. I left that job when I got pregnant with our twins in 2015, gave birth in 2016, and became a full-time stay-at-home mom. I then dove back into making WHL a full-time viable career.
Why did you decide to create Women’s Hockey Life?
I wanted to give back to the game. Hockey has always been the driving force behind everything I do. WHL was created to fill the voids of the women’s game. My team and I want to help the next generation with resources, outlets, and experts to help them fulfill their goals, aspirations, and dreams. We wanted to give them those outlets that we never had as kids growing up. Essentially, we want to empower young girls into strong independent women through the game of hockey.
What has been the impact of WHL for yourself and women in hockey?
You’d have to talk to the players we have worked with to truly understand the impact. BUT, at the end of the day, we are helping them achieve their dreams in whatever capacity that means. Not everyone will play in college or for their respective countries, but the game of hockey is so much more than that and if we can play even a small role in these players figuring out WHO they are as people first, that’s all that really matters to us.
What prompted the branching of WHL into WHL Academy, WHL Gear, etc.?
Again, it’s to fill the voids. We want to educate the players (and parents) on all the avenues that are available for these student-athletes. The Academy was built to help high school-aged players navigate the college/university process and help them find a home where they can spend the next 4 years. WHL Gear was made to allow the players (and fans) or our game to wear their pride in the best gear and apparel out there. We want them to be proud to be a female hockey player and now we can give them the “gear” to do it.
What’s the future of WHL and your role within it?
I’m not going anywhere. My life has been involved in hockey, and now my team and I have created a business around it. We aren’t in it for the money. It’s been a grind to get us to where we are today and what fuels all of us is getting those emails from players and parents thanking us for helping. Knowing we played a small role in helping is why we do all of this. We are building a brand that will live long after we’re gone and that’s what fuels us. We aren’t in it for the short-term gains. We are doing what we do to benefit the next generation from our experiences to far exceed what we have done.
A huge thank you to Jaclyn Hawkins for spending the time to open up to us about herself and Women’s Hockey Life. It was a pleasure getting to know just how amazing WHL is at empowering women in hockey. Check out WHLgear.com today for your chance to purchase amazing quality gear and apparel.