One of the top female hockey programs in the NCAA is getting some Okotoks content.
Okotoks blueliner Teghan Inglis committed to THE Ohio State University Buckeyes after being blown away by the Columbus, Ohio campus on a tour of the Division I program last month.
“Over the past year I’ve been contacting a couple of schools,” said Inglis, a student at Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy. “Making U18 nationals this year more schools were talking to me, I got into contact with a few more and ended up touring a couple. Ohio was one of them. I really loved the campus. You walk into the football stadium and it’s so eye opening seeing how many seats it has. How friendly the rink staff were, the teammates, the coaches. It just felt like home.
“It felt just like what I wanted my four years after high school to be like.”
The Buckeyes play in the WCHA (Western Collegiate Hockey Association) considered to be the best division in NCAA women’s hockey featuring the likes of Wisconsin, Minnesota, St. Cloud and Bemidji State.
“It was huge relief just knowing that you have to play as hard as you can now with Team Canada looking at you,” she said. “I was super excited calling my parents, especially it being Ohio. It’s a big achievement, I’ve been working all those year for this one goal of mine.
“It was probably my first year Peewee where me and my dad (Dennis) sat down and talked about my goals.”
Inglis took a few weeks after the campus visit to discuss her options with family and made the decision to put pen to paper on the commitment.
The Grade 11 student still has another year of hockey at POE before college, but commitments to post-secondary institutes at younger ages are becoming increasingly frequent in the highly competitive world of collegiate hockey.
Prior to attending the Kelowna-based school she spent one season at the Edge School for Athletes and previously played a starring role on the Rocky Mountain Bantam AAA Raiders.
The 16-year-old is leaning towards beginning her NCAA experience in the fall of 2020.
“All the NCAA schools are starting to talk to girls in Grade 8 and 9 and competing,” she said. “The sooner I could talk to these universities and commit to one that I love, it saves them the time to stop looking for spots.
“By Grade 11 you have more of an idea of what you want to do and then Grade 12 you have the year to just play hockey, have fun being with your team and not stress about all these universities talking to you.”
POE has carved out a reputation as a skill development factory that is equally adept at marketing its athletes to elite collegiate programs.
Millarville’s Malia Schneider attended the school before committing to Colgate University last year.
“POE is more player development and I love how we practice two hours a day here,” Inglis said. “Our new assistant coach Jessica Campbell, she played Team Canada, she’s been helping all of our teams a lot.
“My head coach Kris Hogg has helped me so much, he helped me call schools and what to say to them.”
“My parents (Dennis and Jodi) have helped me, come tour with me, they’ve provided me with all these opportunities like coming to POE. They’re my biggest supporters and who I look up to in these situations because they want the best for me.”
Inglis – who made her debut on the national stage alongside fellow Foothills products Rachel Weiss, Kassy Betinol and Breanne Trotter with Team Alberta at the U18 Female Championships in November — has a bigger goal in mind, wearing the maple leaf one day.
Columbus, Ohio is a good place to build that foundation.
Canadian Olympic superstar forward Natalie Spooner and former national team member and now TSN broadcaster Tessa Bonhomme both attended THE Ohio State prior to winning Olympic gold.
“Making U18 nationals was a step forward and this year it’s just keep moving forward,” she said.