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Hockey from down under

Emily Davis-Tope may have spent most of her life down under in Australia, but she’s come back to Canada to experience what she calls competitive hockey with the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks. (Photo by Chris Jones)

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

When one thinks of hockey, they think of Canada, Sweden, Russia – not Australia.

Yet, Emily Davis-Tope, a first year kinesiology major at Ontario Tech University, is the exception.

The Canadian-born and Australian-raised member of the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks says her family’s love of hockey has always been an influence.

“I was born in Toronto, so my family’s always been into hockey,” she explains. “My older brother is a goalie, so I’d always go and watch him play games, and then I wanted to try it.”

While she was born in Toronto, Davis-Tope grew up in Bendigo, Australia.

She has a twin brother named Charlie, and an older brother named David.

“My childhood was honestly pretty normal,” she says. “I went to school, we played different sports when I was growing up. So, I played soccer, and tennis as well.”

She also figure skated for a couple of years, which she says has helped her skating ability.

When she was nine she started playing hockey.

She says the hockey scene in Australia is growing, but it’s nowhere near as popular as it is in Canada.

“It’s getting bigger, but when I started it was definitely not very popular at all,” she says. “There’s only two girls in the whole state [of Victoria] that played – in my age at least. Women’s hockey isn’t very big, but it’s definitely getting bigger and gaining more fans as well.”

Growing up in Australia is like growing up in Canada, she explains.

“It’s not too different, but I loved growing up there,” says Davis-Tope. “I have a lot of friends from school, and my family lives out there.”

The first difference between Canada and Australia she mentions is the weather.

“It’s definitely colder here in the winter,” she laughs. “The winter in Australia, it doesn’t even snow, it’s positive temperatures all the time. So that’s pretty hard to adjust to.”

Culturally, she says it’s been an easy transition.

“I think our country’s cultures are pretty similar,” she says. “So it’s not too different, but obviously the accents [are different].”

Before coming to Oshawa, Davis-Tope spent two years in Kelowna, BC playing for the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy.

“I loved it there… The reason I went there is because the hockey isn’t as competitive in Australia, so I needed to move out here to get better quality hockey,” she explains. “It definitely helped me improve at a faster rate.”

Since she moved to Canada, she says there is a 14-hour time difference between her and her family.

When she goes to bed, they’re waking up, and vice versa.

While she says it’s been a difficult transition to move to a different country, she’s still excited for her future in Canada.

Davis-Tope says hockey has helped her deal with the life-changing experience.

“I’ve become so much stronger mentally because of all the adversity I’ve had to face from moving here, and all the different competitiveness,” she explains. “[Hockey’s] helped me become a better leader, and I love working in a team sport.”

Since she plays on a team, she says hockey has helped her learn how to collaborate and work with others.

“So, say in school, you know how to work with other people, not just by yourself,” she says.

Davis-Tope chose Ontario Tech after she practiced with the team, and toured the campus.

“I love the coaches – it’s a perfect fit,” she says. “All the girls on the team were so friendly and easy to talk to the first time I met them, and the practice was really fun. It was really fast and exactly what I was looking for.”

She says she knew the first time she visited the school it’s where she wants to be.

Right now Davis-Tope is only a couple of weeks into her first semester at university. She’s excited to start her time as a kinesiology major, and to begin the season on Oct. 18, at home against the Ryerson Rams.