It seems like just yesterday that Brandon’s Amy Lee was pulling a University of Manitoba Bisons women’s hockey jersey over her head for the first time.
Staring around the room at veteran players, the 5-foot-6, 160-pound centre remembers how nervous she was to make the jump to university hockey from Female Midget AAA after winning a national title as a member of the Westman Wildcats.
Fast foward five years and the former Vincent Massey High School student is playing her final year with the Bisons.
"This year is definitely special because my time is running out at this level," Lee said via telephone from Winnipeg. "Each year it starts to go faster and faster, including this year. It’s been a whirlwind."
While the accolades have piled up during her career, including winning the Bisons Athletes Scholarship last year, there is one distinction that is both literally and figuratively close to her heart.
"Whenever you have the ‘C’ on your chest it adds some motivation," said Lee, who has captained the Bisons for the last two seasons. "It means you’re playing for the whole team and not just yourself. It’s one of the things during my career that I am most proud of. It’s a huge honour, and it’s been great to wear it because I’ve put my whole heart and soul into the program over my five years."
Off the ice her heart as been on display as well.
Lee is involved with the UMAC’s Bison Book Buddies program, which has U of M players visit local elementary schools and read to students. It’s a natural fit for the 22-year-old, who will graduate with a degree in environmental studies this year and plans on entering the faculty of education to become a teacher next school year.
With potentially two more years of university ahead of her, she hopes to stay involved with the team in some capacity moving forward.
And she’ll definitely be playing somewhere.
"I’ll play in a women’s league in the city because this is what I love to do," said Lee, who is 12th in Canada West conference scoring this season with six goals and 19 points in 26 games.
As for what she’ll miss the most when her collegiate career is over?
"My teammates and the competition," Lee said without skipping a beat.
The Bisons improved to 15-7-4 by sweeping the Regina Cougars over the weekend to clinch a playoff spot and lock up fourth place in Canada West. While they won’t earn one of the two byes through the first round, the Bisons will host a best-of-three first-round playoff series in two weeks.
"We have a great group and we’ve had some great practices recently," said Lee, whose team will host the Lethbridge Pronghorns at the U of M this weekend to close out the regular season. "We’ve had a couple of team meetings and we’re feeling really confident."