Mackinnon commits to Clarkson
Jessica Mackinnon trusted her intuition when selecting a university.
The 17-year-old, Grade 11 Ridley College student had several options before committing to Clarkson University for the fall of 2024 where she will major in pre-physiotherapy while playing for the Golden Knights hockey team.
“I really like the program they have, their training facilities, their dressing room,” Mackinnon said. “They all had really nice facilities, but basically Clarkson felt like the most at home.
“It definitely was difficult. I just went with my gut feeling, to be honest. It took quite a bit of time. I was much later committing than a lot of other people.”
Mackinnon, who also made official visits to three other universities, admitted the process was stressful.
“It’s a lot of relief (now that I’ve made a decision),” she said. “I’m not even thinking about it anymore. I can just go out and play hockey.”
Mackinnon is confident in her abilities to make the adjustment to NCAA hockey as well as the classroom demands.
“It will be a lot to balance but there are a lot of people doing it,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a big adjustment, even though we’re at the top level for girls now. It’s a huge jump to university. It will take a lot of hard work and adjusting to get used to it.”
She feels her time at Ridley has prepared her well.
“It’s the same kind of atmosphere,” Mackinnon said. “We go to school every day, we’re on the ice every day. The main difference will probably be the speed of the game and the physicality, but being able to get ice every day at Ridley really helps a lot.”
Mackinnon, who hails from Cape Sable Island, a tiny, remote community three hours south of Halifax and the southern most part of Nova Scotia, came to Ridley in Grade 10.
“Where I grew up if I wanted to play a higher level of hockey I would have had to travel at least three hours,” she explained. “I either had to move three hours away or go to a prep school and get an education at the same time. The way my parents looked at it was either pay for school now or pay for university and we thought Ridley would be a good spot to get noticed.”
Mackinnon was second on the Tigers in scoring this season.
“Jessica is a very special student athlete that works extremely hard every day. You often see her putting in extra time both on and off the ice,” said Amanda Wark, Ridley’s Director of Women’s Hockey – Head Coach. “Jessica leads by example and is a player that pushes others to be better. She is a fierce competitor that never takes a practice, game, or workout for granted.
“Jessica has great leadership skills. She inspires others around her to be better.”
Mackinnon also suited up for Team Nova Scotia, along with Ridley teammate Mia Giles, at the 2023 Canada Winter Games in Prince Edward Island where she helped Nova Scotia to a silver medal.
“It was a really good experience,” Mackinnon said. “We had a really good coach (Kori Cheverie) who helped lead us through that. It was really amazing. Everybody bought in. We were all there for the same reason. We were bonded together for the same purpose.”
MacKinnon scored in a comeback win over heavily-favoured Ontario in the semifinal, as the team went on to win the first ever female hockey medal for Nova Scotia.
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