Research pays off for Ridley rearguard
Mary Sweetapple did her due diligence when researching post-secondary schools.
The 17-year-old Nova Scotia native preferred a smaller institution and also wanted to continue her hockey career at the NCAA Division 1 level.
The Ridley College student began her research last year before committing to Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa.
“I know that’s where I want to be,” Sweetapple said. “I had been talking to a few others coaches and had a few other offers out there.
“I’m so grateful I took the extra time because I wouldn’t be in this position.”
Sweetapple, who plans to major in sports medicine, feels Mercyhurst checked all the boxes.
“I’m super excited,” he said. “Pretty much everyone I talked to said the community at the school is really nice because it’s a small population and they have a very well established hockey program.”
Sweetapple is thankful to have her future mapped out in the midst of the pandemic.
“It’s such a weight off my shoulders,” she said. “It’s a lot when you are in school. It’s so nice not to have to worry about that. I’m so grateful I got it done.”
Sweetapple is a smart, steady, stay-at-home defenceman who is looking forward to the challenge of playing at the NCAA level.
“I know it’s going to be a big jump, especially the league they’re playing in, there are such strong teams,” she said. “A big thing will be the strength and size of the girls. They are so well developed. Even going into high school where I was playing before was a big jump and I know this is going to be even bigger.”
She feels her skill set will translate well as she moves up the ladder.
“One of my biggest strengths is my hockey IQ and being able to see the ice and make nice plays,” she said. “From defence, I love being able to see the entire ice. Even though we don’t get the full credit for goals, I still take a lot of pride in that.”
Ridley Prep Girls assistant coach Celeste Doucet feels Sweetapple has all the tools to continue to succeed.
“Mary is a skilled defencemen that we have had the pleasure to have on our team for four years,” Doucet said. “She has spent that time at Ridley making herself and her teammates better on and off the ice. Her vision and patience on the ice is irreplaceable and will be missed next year.
“Mary has the skill and ability to slow the game down and change the outcome of any play she is involved in. She is versatile, hardworking and determined to do anything she can to help her team succeed.”
Sweetapple joined Ridley in Grade 9.
“I came from a small town in Nova Scotia and didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “It was hard leaving home, of course, but I knew I needed to in order to achieve my goals. I couldn’t get this at home.
“Ridley has given me so many opportunities. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. The coaching and the relationships I built, the facilities, the education, it’s all unbelievable.”
She regrets not being able to play a regular schedule in her final season as a Tiger.
“It’s disappointing. I’ve been at Ridley for four years and you’re always kind of looking forward to your last season travelling,” she said. “You take it for granted until you don’t have it. That’s one of the biggest things for me. It’s difficult but I’m so thankful Ridley has taken initiative to keep us moving and give us all the opportunities we have had.
“I’m glad we could make the most of it.”
Sweetapple plans to continue to work with strength coach Vicki Bendus in her final weeks at the school before continuing her training at home.
“I’m going to utilize that to my fullest ability,” she said. “The coaches set out training programs for us in the summer and I get on the ice with girls from home who play D1 or USPORT. This summer is going to be important for my development.”
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