16-year-old Walpole Island First Nation hockey player representing community at highest level
16-year-old Taryn Jacobs has been long-listed to represent Ontario at a national level
An up-and-coming hockey player from the Walpole Island First Nation says being an athlete gives her a platform to educate others about her community and culture. Taryn Jacobs, 16, is embracing her role as an Indigenous role model in the sport.
"I'm able to go and represent my community and my people and when people know that I'm an Indigenous athlete, like I've had lots of people come to me asking questions about the culture and our beliefs and our way of life," she said.
"It's great for me to be able to go out and educate people about it."
Jacobs plays defence for the Southwest Wildcats in the Provincial Women's Hockey League (PWHL), the highest level of junior hockey in the province. She has represented southern Ontario at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships in 2018 and 2019, and most recently has been put on the long list for the Ontario Women's Hockey Association U18 teams which could give her the chance to compete nationally again.
She plans to take her game even further.
"I'd like to stay in the PWHL for the next couple of years and then advance on to university hockey," she said.
Family and community support
Hockey is a big thing in her community, Jacobs said, adding that her entire family is involved in the game.
"When we're there, the entire community will come to watch all the different teams and see all the members play that might be playing for different places," she said. "It's great to see all the support."
She has a role model of her own, Kaitlyn Isaac, who is also from Walpole Island and began playing for Cornell University last season.
"I was able to see her progress and go to the PWHL," she said. "It's great for me to be able to see her doing all that."
Tom Peel coached Jacobs in Grade 9 and 10 when she played on the Wallaceburg District Secondary School team. He said she is a spectacular hockey player.
"She is very, very consistent. She is very, very tough," Peel said. "She's a very, very powerful skater."
He also said she is a very cerebral player.
"You need someone super intelligent back there, making good decisions for you."
Peel has coached both Isaac and Jacobs, and wished there was a chance to have them both on the team at the same time.
"It's going to be cool to watch the two girls and see the level they can attain," he said.