TORONTO, ON – When Tatum Amy takes on FISU World University Games in the small towns of New York’s Adirondack Region, it seems just right for the U SPORTS veteran who grew up in rural Manitoba.
Amy, 23, and the Mount Royal Cougars captain, will represent Team Canada at the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games this January, capping her university hockey career with a chance to showcase her skills against some of the world’s best student-athletes.
“My initial reaction was just a lot of excitement, and I just feel so humbled and appreciative that I was recognized and chosen to wear the maple leaf,” Amy told 49 Sports. “I’m excited that I don’t know what it will be like… and to play alongside players and individuals that I’ve never met before, just maybe played against a few times.”
At the Games, the women’s hockey team starts a day before the opening ceremony, with the tournament opener on Jan. 11 against Slovakia at 8:00 pm ET, before they look ahead to group stage games against Czechia, Japan, Great Britain and the USA.
While Amy has lived in Calgary throughout her university career, she grew up in Birtle, Manitoba, a small community near the Saskatchewan border between Yorkton, SK, and Brandon, MB.
With just over 600 people and a quintessentially Canadian small-town rink, the FISU Games are a long call from her days in the rural prairies.
“There was a lot of culture shock, especially with all the driving,” Amy said of her move to Calgary ahead of joining MRU. “The busy culture around me was definitely a lot different than what I was used to. It feels so long ago now.”
Yet, she looks back fondly on the move to the metropolis. Now a senior with the Cougars, Amy is enjoying one of her best Canada West seasons, potting six goals and 24 points through 18 games while leading all of U SPORTS in assists.
With that elevated production level, she hopes to buoy the Cougars to the U SPORTS Championship tournament for the first time since 2020, when their hopes of winning gold in UPEI were dashed by COVID-19. That year, however, the Cougars advanced to the semifinal on the back of Amy’s overtime winner before the tournament was called off.
“When we beat U of [Calgary] to get us into the CanWest Finals and send us to PEI was probably the highlight,” she said of 2019-20. “That PEI game, though, was probably my most expensive hockey game, my parents said, but I’ll never forget it.”
Although the Cougars haven’t reached the pinnacle of U SPORTS through her tenure, she has helped push the program to rank among the best in the nation constantly and has helped younger players improve.
Drawing on experience and veteran leadership
When she walks into the unfamiliar locker room of Team Canada, Amy will aim to be a leader, drawing on her experiences with the Cougars and as part of past all-star teams, including a stint with Team Manitoba during her youth hockey career.
“It’s important for me to step out of my box and try to take on a bit of a leadership role,” she said. “Getting to know everyone and making sure everyone knows who I am, I think that’s going to be a big step in a good direction to start.”
However, there’s also an added element for Amy, who works with KidSport Calgary to bring children into sports and active lifestyles.
“Hockey helps me so much mentally and physically, and it’s so good to be involved in sport,” Amy said. “Being part of an organization that allows other children and kids to be involved also means a lot to give back.”
At no point in Amy’s life has hockey not played a significant role, and with her parents surprising her on Christmas with their plans to travel to the FISU Games, she will get the chance to cap her U SPORTS career with an international medal.
“Every day at this tournament is going to be a special one, and being able to play in a rink that historically has meant a lot to the Olympic world, it’s huge,” she said. “
Despite the significantly larger populations of Lake Placid and the surrounding areas where the Canadian team will play, there will be a familiar element to the small feel of the towns, albeit different from her growing up in Birtle.