Ice hockey was a sport that Heather McDermott, accountant at SevenHills Fabrication, was destined to take up.
Ice hockey was around me from the very beginning of my life. My mother delayed my late arrival into the world even more, due to an ice hockey match taking place in Whitley Bay that she wanted to go to first.
Both my parents were heavily involved in the North East ice hockey scene and my sister, who started skating at the age of two, was in the GB junior squad during the early 90s.
I started ice-skating at the age of four and figure skated until the age of 12. At 13 I decided I would give ice hockey a try. It was something I’d always wanted to play and at that time there weren’t many girls’ teams, ice hockey was mainly for the boys.
I played for a variety of clubs in defence including Whitley Bay, Sunderland, Newcastle and Durham, which was at the time the most successful club in the country and was producing National League winning teams and a large number of both male and female GB players.
Ice hockey has taken me around the world. I was in the GB squad from 2000-2006 and became England assistant captain playing tournaments in the Czech Republic and Canada. When I played for Newcastle, we became British Champions and played in Sweden, and as a Sheffield player I went to Latvia twice to play in the Champions League.
A bad injury, where I ruptured my cruciate ligament, did force me to have a year off. At this time I was looking to move from the North East and spoke to the Sheffield Shadows who offered me a place in their women’s team after my recovery. I ended up playing for them for four years until I retired as a player. I had already started coaching ice hockey and in 2000 secured my second licence to formally become a coach.
After several years coaching in Newcastle I began coaching with the Sheffield Ice Hockey Academy and helped them win a couple of national titles for the U18s and U20s sides. From this, I became the bench coach for the Sheffield Steeldogs, a semi-pro men’s team.
After a couple of years I returned to the Sheffield Ice Hockey Academy as assistant head coach and a year later I was promoted to head coach of the academy. What I love about the sport is its pace. It’s the fastest game in the world and I also love the community, there is a real hockey family. Now the coaching brings me extra joy. I love seeing people meet their potential. Away from my day job, my life is full of ice hockey. It is my social life and I don’t often watch a game without my coaching head on.