By Hayden Godfrey
Ryerson Rams women’s hockey head coach Lisa Haley will be inducted into Saint Mary’s University (SMU) Sport Hall of Fame, the university announced via their website.
The induction ceremony will take place on Oct. 5 and will honour Haley alongside former football player Noah Cantor.
A native of Westville, N.S., Haley was the first-ever coach of SMU’s varsity program in 1997 and served as head coach until 2011. Over her 14 years with the Huskies, she was named the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) Coach of the Year twice, was awarded the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Coach of the Year Award in 2003 and led SMU to three AUS Championships.
“If it wasn’t for her influence, there wouldn’t be a program,” Brian Bradbury, longtime Huskies assistant coach, told The Eyeopener. “She wanted to make sure that the work that she put in didn’t disappear.”
Bradbury’s daughter, Meagan, played on Haley’s team for several years. Her father says that Saint Mary’s was the logical and obvious choice for her, largely due to Haley’s presence, even though she received interest from other schools.
Starting out as an athletic therapist, Haley volunteered to coach the team and was soon asked to become the program’s first-ever head coach by then-athletic director Larry Uteck.
In her first season, the team only had 13 skaters during the regular season, including Haley’s twin sister who was the starting goalie. Looking back, she thoroughly enjoyed her time at SMU, even though her tenure admittedly came with some highs and lows along the way.
“The evolution is amazing, and I never thought it would become what it did,” Haley said of the growth of SMU’s program. “To be honest, I never even thought about being inducted until I got the call. I am very humbled.”
After finishing her SMU coaching career with a 146-67-15 record, Haley became the first coach in Ryerson Rams women’s hockey history in 2011. She has been with the program since and owns a cumulative 56-102-14 record with the Rams and led the team to their first-ever playoff series win last season.
“When I first started coaching, I didn’t know what I was doing,” she remembers. “I learned a style and took from Larry [Uteck] and other coaches I admired at St. Mary’s at the time.”
In addition to her university coaching career, Haley has coached Canada’s National Women’s Hockey team, winning four medals at various International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Women’s Championships. She has won two medals at two different IIHF World Women’s U18 Championships and in 2014, she served as an assistant coach at the Sochi Winter Olympics, helping the national team win a gold medal.
“You learn over the years it’s not all about winning,” Haley said. “If you go about it the right way, and help your players grow and develop, that’s where you really win.”