By Justin Walters
This April, when the best of women’s hockey convenes in Nova Scotia for the 2021 International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship, Ryerson hockey fans will have another team to cheer for beyond just Team Canada. Lisa Haley, Ryerson Rams women’s hockey head coach will be leading Hungary’s women’s national hockey team as their head coach.
Haley, who’s been at Ryerson since 2011, was approached about the job in June. With Ontario University Athletics (OUA) having already announced that the fall season would be put on pause, she was able to consider the opportunity.
“This was an exciting challenge. Anytime you get to coach international hockey, it’s exciting,” Haley said.
“I’ve seen from afar just how much this team has grown and advanced in the past couple of years,” she added. Since 2012, Hungary has been promoted three times and is now in the top division in the world for the first time in the women’s program’s history.
Aside from the appeal of coaching an international team, Haley was also compelled by the championship’s location. The tournament will be hosted in Nova Scotia with group A featuring teams like Canada and USA playing in Halifax. Group B meanwhile, which includes Hungary, will be playing their preliminary round games in Truro.
“I’m a native of Nova Scotia, and Truro is 20 minutes down the road from where I grew up playing hockey,” Haley said. “So it’s a pretty special opportunity to share that experience with my family.”
An original Ram
Haley has been with the women’s hockey team since the beginning, coming on as a coach during their inaugural season in 2011. In its earlier years, the program wasn’t nearly what it is now; in her very first season with the Rams, the team only won one game. This past season, however, the team made the OUA finals.
This rise to success didn’t happen overnight, so the perseverance that made it possible is something Haley knows she’ll use when coaching her new team. When asked about her time with Ryerson and how she’s applied it to Hungary’s international team, her answer was easy: “Believe in the process.”
Just like Ryerson in 2011, Hungary’s team is looking to take a step in the right direction and is trusting Haley to get them there.
“The same reason I took the job at Ryerson also applies to this role. The opportunity to build something special is there,” Haley said. “Hungary was already doing a great job at building their legacy with moving all the way up to the top division, and now we have a responsibility to continue growing that legacy.”
Even with all her attention now focused on the Hungarian women’s national hockey team, Haley misses being at the Mattamy Athletic Centre with the Rams. She said that once it’s safe for OUA hockey to return, there is work to be done in hopes of capturing the program’s first national championship.
Haley said she is excited and ready, and knows her players will be too. After the program’s recent success and another great recruiting class coming in, she feels like the Rams are poised for big things when OUA play resumes.
“We feel that this is a really good window for us to compete for a national championship. We want to build an incredible legacy here at Ryerson,” Haley said. “I’m tremendously excited to get back and play and I know our players are as well. I know they will be ready to compete when the time comes.”