kennedy macdonald feature

The kid is alright

The youngest skater in Bridgewater, Kennedy MacDonald is turning her hockey dreams into reality with drive and dedication well beyond her years

Katie Brickman
April 24, 2018

Kennedy MacDonald lives and breathes hockey.

So much so, the 14-year-old defenceman from Hammonds Plains, N.S., has her bedroom decked out with pictures, quotes, mementos, checklists and a Hockey Canada jersey.

“I like to compete with myself,” says MacDonald. “I always try to get better. I set goals for myself and I feel very accomplished when I work towards them.”

Her love for the game began at age four when her mom Tracy took her out skating and signed her up for hockey. Her dedication to the sport has driven her to a number of accomplishments. But it’s only the beginning.

At 14, MacDonald is the youngest member of Metro Boston Pizza, host team for the 2018 Esso Cup, and the youngest skater on any of the six rosters at Canada’s National Female Midget Championship.

“It feels great, but this is something I have wanted and worked hard for,” says MacDonald. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my coaches I’ve had over the years and my teammates, especially this year, with being the youngest on the team. They have opened their hearts to me and I feel like I have a whole new family.”

MacDonald knocked a few things off her to-do list this season…

“A while ago, my goal was to make the U16 Hockey Nova Scotia team and I achieved that,” she says. “My next goal was to play in the Midget AAA league for Boston Pizza, which I am.”

So what’s next? Her next major goals include an appearance for her province at the 2019 Canada Winter Games, then earn a scholarship to an NCAA Division 1 school and “eventually, possibly, hopefully Team Canada one day.”

She plans on achieving each one through hard work and pushing herself on and off the ice.

“I am quite hard on myself, but I like to push myself and do all I can to get to where I want to be,” MacDonald says. “There have been some struggles, but there will always be struggles. As long as I am on the ice, I am happy.”

John Cunningham has been coaching MacDonald since her second year in Peewee and has seen her dedication lead to success.

“She’s a very focused individual. She is very dedicated, an extremely hard-working person and she is a high achiever, not only in hockey but also in school,” he says. “Kennedy has been a captain every second year and a leader every year even when she doesn’t wear a letter.”

After every practice, Cunningham has his team run arena stairs to build endurance. That exercise stayed with MacDonald.

“I told the girls, you may have a coach that doesn’t make you do stairs like me. You have to push yourself,” Cunningham says. “I guess the next year, the team disappeared and the coach was looking for them and Kennedy had them out running stairs. She is very driven and a real positive force and high energy.”

Despite being the youngest player on the Metro roster, Cunningham has used MacDonald in all situations and she has proven to be up to the task of playing against stronger and older competition.

“I think, first, she’s been given the opportunity. We had such a big turnover with our defense with only five D and we didn’t have any returning defence,” says Cunningham. “She was able to come in and we put a lot of responsibility on her right away. She’s eaten that up and she’s been a very good piece to our team. She has adjusted well to the speed of the game.”

MacDonald plays on the penalty kill and power play, anchoring the second power play unit; those opportunities are some that she relishes most.

“I like having pressure put on me like that,” she says. “I feel like I perform better in high-pressure situations like the penalty kill and power play and it’s an honour being on those units.”

With lofty goals ahead of her, MacDonald keeps logos above her bed and quotes on her wall to remind her to stay focused.

“When I wake up, I always think about what I am going to do that day to push me towards those goals,” she says. “I keep the quotes and pictures up and read them and think about how they affect me and how I can pursue my goals.”

And as if she needed any more motivation, MacDonald looks towards a few Olympians for inspiration.

“Jill Saulnier is from Halifax and I admire her a lot because she is smaller like me and she doesn’t let that stop her. Seeing her and Blayre (Turnbull) on the Olympic team this year meant a lot to me. Jill is an idol of mine.”

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

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