“My whole life,” Inglis said with a smile, when asked how long she has been a hockey player.
Known to family and friends as “Bella,” the 17-year-old Rockland athlete’s earliest memories about her fascination and passion for Canada’s sport go back to when she was three years old, and spending almost all of her winter days on an outdoor skating rink near the Lemay Circle neighbourhood, in Rockland.
“Hockey came into my life when I was very young,” Inglis said. “I would watch the older people play and think, ‘Wow! I want to do that!’”
Right now she’s a senior at the Ontario Hockey Academy (OHA) in Cornwall, spending her second year of academic study and hockey skills training at the academy. When she graduates, Bella Inglis already knows where she’s going, and that is south of the border, taking her hockey passion to the next level as part of the SUNY Canton Roos women’s hockey team for the State University of New York.
“I’m pretty excited,” Inglis said. “I’m continuing my dream of playing hockey.”
The SUNY Roos (short for Kangaroos) are a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) team, which means Inglis will be playing, and facing challenges on the ice, from the highest level of athletic excellence in amateur competitive hockey, short of going to the Olympics.
Need for speed
Over the years before she arrived on the OHA campus, Inglis has developed and honed her hockey skills, starting first as a member of the Clarence-Rockland Lightning, then during her peewee years with the Russell Coyotes. When she moved on to midget-level competition, Inglis joined the Cornwall Typhoons AA team, at the age of 15.
“Bella’s strength is her speed,” said Glenn Inglis, her father and chauffeur through all the years of travel between Rockland and Russell, and now Rockland and Cornwall, for practices and games. “She is really fast.”
“Pretty fast,” Bella said, smiling, when asked how fast she can skate. “My coach is always telling me to skate faster, and so I just keep getting faster. When I’m on the ice, I’m focused on getting the puck in the net.”
Besides being fast, Bella Inglis is also strong, able to bench press 120 pounds without any problem. Her one weakness used to be stick handling, but since she began studying and training with the OHA coaching staff, that is no longer a problem.
“Now my hands and wrists have gotten better, stronger, from moving the puck around other players,” she said.
Living on campus at OHA has prepared Inglis for being away from her home and family for long periods of time. Campus life has also helped broaden her view of the world, thanks to her three dorm buddies who hail from the U.S., Japan, and Singapore.
“We’re all family, technically,” she said. “It’s pretty cool, sharing our experiences and talking about culture.”
Bella jokes that outside of her academic studies, her hockey skills training and games, and time with her family, the only other interest she has is sleeping.
“I take my rest very seriously,” she said, smiling. “It’s very rare that I’m not doing anything that involves hockey. Becoming a hockey player has made me who I am.”