Williams Lake’s Paige Outhouse said her decision to move across the country after high school to pursue her dream of playing hockey was one of the best she’s ever made.
“It was an opportunity I couldn’t give up,” Outhouse said of committing to play for the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) Panthers women’s hockey team in Charlottetown starting this past September.
“I absolutely loved it, and I can’t wait to go back.”
Outhouse, who turns 19 in May, is now back home in Williams Lake following her first year of a business administration degree and joining the Panthers. Making the most of the season, she said she didn’t let the global COVID-19 pandemic dampen her spirits, despite the team not playing any league games.
“It’s not just me – it’s everyone else in the world dealing with the pandemic,” Outhouse said. “Everyone’s kind of in the same boat, and there’s really not much you can do about it.”
UPEI’s women’s hockey program was ranked fifth in the 2019/20 season by U-SPORTS, and is considered one of the best in the country. The Panthers play in the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) conference.
Previously, Outhouse had been a member of the Prince George-based Northern Capitals of the BC Female Midget AAA League, and captained the team in her third and final season in 2019/20, following years of honing her skills in the Williams Lake Minor Hockey Association.
As for this past season, which consisted mostly of practices, team building and fitness, Outhouse said she tried to make the most of it. Like other university leagues throughout the country, due to the pandemic, a year of playing eligibility won’t be subtracted from any player.
“I loved the team,” she said. “All the girls were so sweet. There are a few players from PEI but a lot of them are from Ontario and New Brunswick. I’m the only B.C. girl there.”
For next season, Outhouse is optimistic the pandemic will be under control and competition will resume.
“I think when I look back, even when my university years are over – moving away from home, across the country – not a lot of people get to experience that and I’m happy I’ve had this opportunity,” she said.
“I’m just having fun, meeting new girls, we have an amazing coaching staff, and everything is great over there.”