Navigating Life After the Final Whistle
Omni Hockey

Welcome to OMNI Hockey, where we bring you exclusive interviews with unique and interesting voices throughout the Canadian Hockey community.

Today, we’re excited to have Maegan Beres with us. A standout on the Boston College Women’s hockey team, where she served as Captain in her final year, and then took her talents to the professional stage with the Toronto 6ix. She walks us through the details of the difficult decision to leave behind the sport she deeply loved to embark on a corporate career, and how she navigated this significant life transition.

 


I just thought, okay, well, this is normal. Everyone goes through it. It’s a transition I have to make. Just kind of suck it up and get on with it.

(…)

My name is Maegan. I played division one ice hockey at Boston College and I went on to play professionally with the Toronto Six. And now I work in human resources as a recruiter in life insurance. I grew up playing ringette actually- I started skating when I was about three or four years old and I played ringette for six or seven years before switching over to ice hockey. And I started playing hockey when I was about 10 years old. Throughout high school, I took my hockey out East and I actually played at a hockey academy called the North American Hockey Academy, which the abbreviation or acronym is NAHA. And that’s where I was fortunate enough to be recruited to play division one hockey at Boston College for four years.

 

I was eager to study business throughout university. I wasn’t too sure exactly what I wanted to do, but I think with probably some¬† family influence and having an older sister that went down the business route while I was eager to kind of enroll in Boston Colleges. But after I graduated, I ended up getting into sales and now have found myself in a recruitment role in HR.

 

But after I graduated university and after playing university hockey, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to play professional hockey with the Toronto Six. So I ended up playing professional hockey alongside my first career in the corporate world.

 

Playing with the Toronto Six was just, it was a great experience honestly. And I think after graduating, I knew I wasn’t quite ready to be done playing the game. And I think a lot of athletes that play at the university level experience… you graduate and you have to go through a thought process of, well, what’s next? And can I continue to play? What does that look like? What leagues are available to me and what opportunities are available to me, whether it’s in North America or overseas in Europe. So I definitely went through that and I was lucky enough to kind of have gotten the call and be part of that 2021 draft for the PHF. So when I decided to play with the Toronto Six, I was really excited, but I was also navigating how I was going to make it work because I also had accepted a full-time job in sales after graduation.

 

So my position in sales was, it was a remote role and just how the schedule worked with the Toronto Six that season, I was able to play professional hockey full-time as well as work in my sales role full-time. And both parties on either side were really supportive of that, which I was thankful for because also being in that stage in life where I graduated and I wanted to kind of take off in my corporate career, but also stay involved in the game that I loved and that had been a part of my life for forever almost.

 

I was offered to return to the team and play with the Toronto Six for another season, which I had planned to do. And then what ended up happening was as the PHF took another step to really try to create a full-fledged professional league, they were trying to push to more, I guess business hours we’ll say, like any professional team would typically have their workouts midday and their practices in the mid-afternoon. And then just when I took that back one night, when I found out that news and was gonna kind of have to juggle that schedule, I really took a step back and just thought about, okay, well, where am I at with hockey and where am I at in my corporate career and what are my goals short-term, long-term? And that’s really when I made a tough decision and that’s when I chose to step away from playing at that level and really just decided to pursue my full-time career outside of hockey.

 

When I first made the decision not to return and kind of to move on from my high-level playing career, it was definitely, there was a lot of sadness at the time and it wasn’t an emotional decision by any means, but there was emotion attached to it. Just because it allowed me the chance to really reflect on my entire playing career and see everything that I had accomplished and be proud and kind of take a moment to be proud of myself for all the goals that I achieved and what I had accomplished. But also just kind of reflect and really realize everything that hockey and the sport had given me, everyone I had the opportunity to meet and cross paths with inside and out of the rink. So yeah, definitely sadness was there, but I think there was partly, you can call it an identity crisis too and I laugh about it now because I did struggle. I would say I struggled a little bit initially… just because things like your workout routine and your daily routine and even getting ready to go to the rink at a certain time in the day, like just little tasks like that, realizing after a couple of weeks that you don’t have that anymore.

 

Or what hit me the most was, the summer is always kind of the off season and you don’t have regular routine team practices or workouts, things like that, and you’re always training on your own, but it was when the fall hit and that’s typically when the regular hockey season ramps up and you’re back with your team and your team workouts start, and you’re back on the ice for conditioning camp, whatever it is. So it was my first fall, which would have been 2022, that I really didn’t have a team and I wasn’t playing and that was the weirdest time for me and I really had to think about, okay, well, what do I wanna prioritize and what goals, what new goals am I going to set for myself, not having hockey to play at a high level. I had a lot of family around me that were giving me different options and “hey, let’s sign up for this race” or things like that, just to probably get my mind off things but also give me just another avenue or something that I could train for. So that was really, really helpful. And I got into road biking and cycling, things like that. So that helped me get out of that tougher period when I had to realize that I don’t have a team to fall back on or lean on for the upcoming season.

 

But yeah, I would say it took a while and maybe I’m still working through it, but it’s something that I came to terms with and realized that I had different goals and I had other goals now, and that’s why I chose to do what I did.

 

My advice for anyone transitioning out of playing at a high level would be to surround yourself with a great support system, whether that’s family or friends or both and then also find ways to stay involved in your sport, whether it’s coaching, officiating or being a mentor.

 

There’s always different aspects or different ways that you can be involved in the game and that’s something that I also pursued as well. So knowing that I was going to stop playing at a high level, I decided to stay involved in the game in other ways and one of those ways was choosing to coach. So I joined a bench staff and absolutely loved it. I really, really enjoyed being on the other side of the game, being a mentor to the girls, having them see where I had played and what I had accomplished and really being an advocate and a mentor for them and giving them any sort of advice that I could give them of how the recruitment process works for university and college hockey and things like that and just really seeing that I can give back to the game in a different way and you don’t have to be playing at a professional level in order to make an impact and make a positive impact on the next generation and on the entire women’s game.

 

So that’s one piece of advice that I would give is stay involved in the game. There’s no reason why as female athletes, we can’t stay involved in the game just because we’re not playing anymore. There is another avenue that I’m also exploring right now, a little bit newer, but being an official and reffing hockey and whether that’s at the minor level or striving to ref at higher levels like university, IIHF or at the professional level as well, that’s another avenue that is also available to anyone who’s played the sport or not. But I think those are two ways where you can really stay involved in the game and it really helped me kind of transition out of playing at a high level, but really realizing that I can have a large impact on the future of the game.

 

Other than that, yeah, make sure you surround yourself with a great support system and that’s how we’re always kind of trained or coached when we’re playing hockey throughout high school and university and it’s all about your support system and the people that you have around you and what they’re encouraging you to do as well. And I think I mentioned it, I have some great family around me that I was able to lean on. And I’m not even sure if they even knew how difficult it was. I honestly didn’t really talk about it much. I just thought, okay, well, this is normal. Everyone goes through it. It’s a transition I have to make, just kind of suck it up and get on with it. But I am really thankful for a lot of the people that were around me and just kind of got me doing other things and interested in other things that maybe I hadn’t had time to think about previously because of the time commitment with hockey. So yeah, I think the three things there is just, yeah, staying involved in the game, whether it’s coaching, officiating, or other things that you can find and then surrounding yourself with a really strong support system.

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