Click Here for the original Barrie Advance & Innisfil Journal story on Amber Bowman

Below is a feature on former Ohio State women’s hockey player Amber Bowman who was a member of the Brampton squad that finished second in Clarkson Cup.

By Shawn Gibson

INNISFIL – With the Clarkson Cup wrapping up this past weekend in Barrie, it gave hockey fans a chance to see some of Canada’s top women compete at their best. Among the Canadian Women’s Hockey League’s best is Innisfil native Amber Bowman.

Amber is a member of the Brampton squad that finished second in the league to the eventual champions from Montreal. A strong showing at the championship playoffs held this year at the Barrie Molson Centre, was just what the product of Innisfil wanted.

“I haven’t played in front of friends and family since my days of being on local boys teams,” said the former Sunnybrae and Nantyr Shores student. “I knew it was going to be awesome as soon as I heard the Cup was being played in the area.”

For those living under an NHL rock, the Clarkson Cup is named after former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson and is awarded every year to the best women’s team in the CWHL. Played over the course of the weekend, this year’s edition of the tournament involved Brampton, Montreal, Toronto and the defending champions from Minnesota. Playing for the Cup is obviously an honour, but being chosen to compete in the top female league is just as rewarding. Bowman was taken 14th overall in 2010 by the Brampton Thunder in the inaugural CWHL draft.

“Being a part of history by being in that draft was a great feeling,” said Bowman. “Getting drafted fairly high didn’t hurt either and was a reflective moment in my career.”

Bowman’s career may never have got started had not been for her determination and will to play. Amber’s mother, Leanne, is the first to admit that she tried to convince her youngest of four children to stay out of the sport. Thankfully for hockey fans, Amber won that argument.

“She was a natural the moment she stepped on the ice,” said a proud Leanne Bowman. “Her older brother was a hockey player and all the boys on her team became like her brothers.”

Both mother and daughter recall a time when boys hockey was the only show in town, which put the defenseman in the sometimes awkward position of being the only girl playing. While Amber remembers the annoyance of opposing teams running her because they didn’t want girls in the league, Leanne laughs of another hurdle that was leaped in those younger years.

“One year when Amber was trying out for a local team, she was cut due to the coach not wanting a girl on the squad and every parent was up in arms because they knew she should have been there. The following year with a different coach she made the team and the former coach’s son was left off.”

Amber stayed active throughout her years in Innisfil participating in lacrosse as well, where she was also the only girl. The first year she played the team went winless, but rebounded the second year by winning it all against the tough teams from western Canada.

A proud member of the Ohio State University hockey program, Amber was scouted and accepted a full scholarship with a degree in Exercise Science. Third all-time in Ohio State defensive scoring, two-time Academic All-Big Ten and a three-time OSU Scholar-Athlete are accolades that any student would brag about, but decked out in her OSU gear, the proud Buckeye’s thoughts were elsewhere this day.

“Aww man, you know, not handling the loss to Kentucky all that well. That one hurts,” said Amber speaking of OSU’s surprising early exit in NCAA basketball tournament to rival Wildcats the night before.

While learning a lot from the hockey side of university, it was her studies at Ohio State that Amber feels will benefit her the most when her playing days are over. Besides competing in the game and coaching with the Provincial Women’s Hockey League’s Oakville Hornets, Amber was just accepted to the field of firefighting in the Central York department of Newmarket and Aurora after studying and training at Base Borden.

“Physical fitness is very important to me and I would like to see more kids getting out and getting active,” said Amber. “Every Canadian should grow up with a hockey stick in their hand, regardless of their sex. It would boost the health and fitness of the youth significantly.”

A fan of Doug Gilmour and the Toronto Maple Leafs, Amber admits there were no women hockey role models for her when she was growing up. A long time rumour has the NHL and CWHL teaming up in a joint venture to further the female game. Leanne Bowman compares the CWHL to an early NHL with players working 9-5 and taking care of families while competing in high-energy games. Amber thinks the time to get something done is now.

“We’re essentially waiting for the NHL to get on board and benefit everyone,” said Amber. “This partnership could really increase the women’s fan base and lead to a great future for the game.”

Seems like the story of Amber’s life, always waiting for the boys to catch up.