East York Mirror
East York's Jaimie McDonell admits there is always a first time for everything.
In her case, she couldn't figure out why some strange guy had asked for her hockey sweater minutes after finishing one of her more memorable games.
Then, he returned.
This time, he wanted her hockey stick.
The 18 year old, who wasn't about to part with either of them, figured something bizarre was going on, but that kind of attention always comes with a classy performance somewhere.
Chosen MVP and scoring the eventual winning goal for Ontario, with 63 seconds gone in the opening period of an eventual 3-0 win over Quebec at the Canadian National Women's Under-18 tournament in Saguenay, Quebec, the five-foot seven-inch forward was bright enough to figure it out.
While McDonell had an idea something unusual was happening, she was soon informed her hockey jersey and stick would be on display - just like Gretzky, Orr, Crosby and others - in a hockey exhibit at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
"This was something really special for me," said McDonell, who is hoping one day she gets an opportunity to play for Canada at a world championship or the Olympics. "That's the big dream, but I know there is lots of hard work ahead just to be considered."
Brilliant on ice, the same can be said about her mid-90s average in academics.
It's no fluke she has been doing it year after year.
It's also not often students, like McDonell - a four-time academic honours student - turns down opportunities to further studies at prestigious U.S. educational institutions like Dartmouth and Yale.
McDonell is about to bid adios to East York Collegiate, where she has been recognized as a three-time female athlete of the year, to pursue studies and play hockey at Princeton University - a 45-minute drive from downtown New York.
"Saw the place, met the people, great facility - it's where I want to be," said McDonell, interested in economics and law with aspirations of becoming a Chief Executive Officer for a Fortune 500 company. "Set your goal and go for it."
Princeton doesn't offer athletic scholarships, but McDonell is hoping the academic awards will help offset the hefty annual tuition. She likes Princeton for another reason.
"It's isolated enough so that I can concentrate, without distractions, on school," she said.
Having played field hockey, volleyball, badminton, softball and hockey at East York, as well as handling executive duties with the school athletic association, McDonell somehow found time in her hectic schedule for lacrosse and was a member of the under-19 Team Canada developmental squad.
One of the most skilled female teenage hockey players in the city, McDonell could have easily monopolized on scoring chances for East York, but chose to support the defensive side of the team.
East York finished third in the Toronto high school league with a 7-2-1 record in the 11-school league. When it came time for the playoffs, East York beat top-ranked Birchmount Park, 7-3 in the city championship.
"One had to go, lacrosse or hockey. I just couldn't do both," said McDonell, who said she has fully recovered from a concussion suffered in a game while playing for the Toronto Junior Aeros.
"I am alright now, got an elbow to the back of my head at a game in Brampton last December. I felt sick afterwards, saw the doctor and then found out," she said. "I am fine now and know there are lots of things still to get done. Right at the top of my list, I want to make a difference for the Princeton women's hockey team."