Four seasons of hockey, two Dalhousie University acceptance letters and one global pandemic after meeting in eighth grade, Gabby Noordijk and Mattie Base find themselves grinding away at schoolwork in a small Halifax Starbucks. The two women’s hockey rookies had a training session later that afternoon, so homework was the morning’s priority.
Time management is one of their many adjustments into university life, a life that’s even stranger than usual with online classes and COVID-19 still in the air.
Having one another for support benefited their transitions from their Oakville, Ont. high school to Dal.
“It made easier going so far away from home with someone from home. Together, westill have a piece of home,” Base said about having a friend along for this journey
Noordijk and Base said they have a lot in common. Along with sharing the same hometown, school and hockey teams for years, both play defence in hockey and study commerce. Naturally, they are roommates.
“We’ve been together a lot. We’ve had the same friend group, high school and hockey teams, so we get along well,” Noordijk said.
Their commitments to Dal were announced in June. Base and Noordijk have similar academic interests and Dal’s hockey program made the move from Oakville to Halifax that much more attractive.
The move included the dreaded two-week quarantine.
“Our moms quarantined with us,” Base said with a laugh. “Having Gabby there too was good. It’s nice always having someone like her there.”
Their coach Troy Ryan, a first-year head coach himself, said it was unique to have friends with so much in common join the team.
“You see recruiting like this happen with good teams,” Ryan said. “You recruit a player that comes from a good program and other players follow. The good thing about getting two players that are familiar with each other is the transition is a lot smoother.”
Fitting into new school and hockey environments
The smooth transition can be seen in their day-to-day lives, on and off the ice.
“We have the same courses, so we help each other and keep one another on top of everything,” said Base.
“We’ll watch lectures together on one of our computers,” Noordijk said.“It’s easier with these things living with someone else in the same situation as me.”
How about the hockey side of university?
“Everyone on the team is really inclusive, especially since we have a lot of first years, its been really good,” said Noordijk. They make up two of 10 rookie players on the women’s team.
“The team is really nice. Troy, too. He’s an amazing coach,” Base said.
Ryan said the similarities between Base and Noordijk aren’t limited to off the ice. He described both as responsible, defensive-minded defenders. Not to mention Base shoots left and Noordijk right, a combination that gives them the chance to play on the same defence pairing once the season begins.
“They fit right in,” Ryan said. “Although this isn’t the ideal situation, we’re at a point in the year where people wish games were being played, it hasn’t been a big negative. It’s still a great environment they are in, where they can practice and train.”
Noordijk and Base said they look to soak up what opportunities are there now with the team, even with the lack of games.
“A development year is what our program needs. Having no games isn’t ideal, but we can practice and grow as players,” said Base.
“We’re still on the ice a lot, we’re getting a lot of practice,” Noordijk added. “We’re developing individually and as a team. We’re pushing each other to become better.”
Several players, mostly rookies, live in residence like Noordijk and Base do. They said it helps their comfort level around teammates, having been able to meet them early and share the school-hockey balance that the life of a university student athlete commands.
“Even if there is no season, seeing how we improve from this year to next is exciting,” Noordijk said. “What’s going to happen with our program and team is exciting.”