Preparing For The Cup – Q&A with Debbie and Yvonne

Together, Debbie Beaudoin and Yvonne Johnson have organized three teams to participate in the 2023 CARHA Hockey World Cup. Each of them has played with half of the party registered for the tournament, and together they hope to share a wonderful hockey experience in Richmond, BC.

How long have you been involved in hockey?

Debbie: I have been playing all my life.  I was born in 1979, and started skating and quickly picked up hockey at the age of 2 yrs.  My older brother, Paul Beaudoin (1971) and our dad (Allan Beaudoin) was our Coach in both Hockey and Hard Ball.  Growing up when my brother had hockey practice, my dad would put me on the ice with my skates on and the whole team.  One of my dad’s Colleagues, friends and assistant coaches at time asked my dad, “what are you going to do with Debbie? She is just sitting on the ice.” My dad quickly replied, “if she doesn’t want to get cold, she will stand up” – and well that is the running joke, I learnt to ice skate and play hockey before I could walk.  And once I learnt how to skate, there was no looking back.  Hockey was, has and will always be a large part of who I am.  Hockey has taken me places I would never have thought I could go and has taught me how to set goals, make friends, follow order, led by example which led me down the path to owning my own Private Coaching Business.

I am currently a retired professional women’s hockey player from the NWHL (Vancouver Griffins, TELUS Lightning and Quebec Avalanche) and the WWHL (BC Breakers), a University Graduate from Quinnipiac University where I served as the Captain of our NCAA Division 1 Women’s Hockey Team in my final year.

I had the privilege to play High Performance Hockey with BC Hockey, Vancouver Selects, 49th Parallel, Global Hockey all which lead to (3) BC Winter Games Zone 3 Gold Medals, the 1995 Canada Winter Games, and in 1996 Western Regionals Tryouts with Team Canada.  I have had the honor to represent BC at the Esso National Championships SR Women’s Hockey and played my last final years of competitive hockey in the South Coast Female Hockey League in the lower mainland.

I am now found playing Men’s, Women’s and Co-ed Hockey in the lower mainland, volunteering with the 45+ and 55+ Women’s Hockey Leagues as a Skills Coach, and I am a proud supporter to the growth of both Women’s and Men’s Hockey at all levels from Rec to Advanced.  I own and run a company called Beaudies House of Hockey, Ringette and Skating that provides opportunities for all ages and all levels.  In addition, I can be found behind the bench coaching in Minor Hockey and have had the honor to be with various associations as a Private Power Skating and Skills Coach.

Yvonne: Organized/league hockey = 3 1/2 years (prior to that, I played a little drop-in rec hockey with a group of men occasionally many years ago).  I grew up playing Ringette and continue to play that as well.

Tell us about your roles with the Beaudies House of Hockey, Ringette and Skating?  

Debbie:  In reviewing options for Women’s hockey, I came across the CARHA Hockey World Cup Tournament and thought this would be a great opportunity for the women in my programs, the ladies I have coached and for many others in our local area to play in a local tournament.  It started off as just trying to promote the growth of women’s hockey, but it turned into people asking to play on my team.  At first, I was not looking to put a team together but with the amount of interest I got from emails and Facebook, I talked it over with a few friends and decided let's put 3-4 teams together to play.

I then decided to reach out to players I played with growing up, players that played in the WWHL, NWHL, University plus the 55+ Zone 3 Team and ladies in my programs and on the teams I had recently joined. I thought it would be neat to mix the ages together to help show where women’s hockey started, and where women’s hockey is today.  With that being said, the amount of interest was overwhelming that I had to enlist in help to organize all the teams.  With hard work, determination, and great communication with Yvonne, we were able to put 2 competitive and 1 recreational team for Worlds.

Yvonne: Debbie, of Beaudies House of Hockey, Ringette and Skating, and I are teammates/friends.  I’ve participated in her hockey schools/camps. When we heard about the World Cup, we joined forces to organize as many teams as we could. We advertised the event through our hockey contacts lists (teammates, former teammates, leagues that we play in, etc.) and on social media. We received enough interest to enter three teams (two at the competitive level and one recreational) in a 30+ division.

What part of the CARHA Hockey World Cup experience are you and your teams looking forward to most?

Debbie: I am looking to build friendships, relationships, and new hockey experiences. I want to help promote and show Women’s hockey is not just at the youth level or the Highly Competitive level, but for everyone.  All of us have a place to play and all of us can do tournaments.  By mixing our ages, and our caliber of play this is a great start to form new memories, new bonding moments and new and old stories to be passed down.

Yvonne: All of it!  In particular, though, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to play teams from outside the Lower Mainland (area that I live and play).  I’m also looking forward to the off-ice events that will be happening at the World Cup.

As residents of British Columbia, what suggestions do you have for international teams? What should they look forward to?

Debbie:  Take in the experience, visit Stanley Park, Granville Island, and take lots of photos!

Yvonne: Stay longer and take in more of the area…add a couple of days of skiing, hiking, etc. or do more sight-seeing.  The west coast of BC has some pretty amazing scenery.  You can be at the beach (ocean) and then in the mountains (including ski hills) all in the same day (within a few hours, in fact).

Tell us about your favourite hockey memory/story.

Debbie: I have shared many moments with various players in various cities and in both Canada and the USA.  I have a lifetime of stories I could share from my youth and college days, but I think the memories from my Adult Hockey (Beer League Seasons) are the ones that stand out the most or, just the ones I remember more vividly.  One of those moments is my Men’s Team from Pickering Ontario called the Ice Holes. We would head to Niagara Falls once a year to play in a tournament.  Our team not only played hockey, but we bonded over live music.  Teammates would bring out their guitars in the hotel hallways and we would chill and sing along.  Another memory is my current men’s team.  I have been playing on it for over 10 years and they are not a team, but a family.  We have built a team that respects each other, helps each other and are friends away from the arena.  And finally, the Zone 3 BC 55+ Senior Games Team.  We spent over a year building the team, having practices, building friendships, and coming together as a team.  The amazing part to me, was I used to play with or against some of these ladies when they were in their 20’s, a couple of players used to Coach me when I was a youth and the others, I had gotten to know from them being in my programs and building a friendship.  I was lucky.  I was lucky to have an opportunity to give back to all those that had given so much to the sport and be eligible to coach my coach, my old teammates, and my new friends to a 2nd place finish.  Zone 3 took home the Silver Medal.

Yvonne: Since I’ve only been playing hockey for a few years, my hockey stories are few.  My favourite is probably playing in the 55+ BC Senior Games the year I turned 55.  This was my first introduction to women’s hockey.  I had not played hockey in many years and had never played it on a regular basis, but my husband (also a hockey player) encouraged me to sign up to play at the Senior Games…so I did.  There was no team for my Zone, so I signed up as a spare and was placed on a team from Vancouver Island north.  During that summer, I managed to travel to the Island a few times to play with the team that I was assigned to for the BC Games. I was also invited to play in some exhibition games with the men’s teams from the Zone where I live so that I could get a bit of practice/experience prior to traveling to Kelowna to participate with the Vancouver Island team at the tournament.  I had a wonderful time playing with and getting to know the women on my team and to make it even more memorable, we won silver medals.