If you don’t watch Alley Herring play defense for the Manitoba Women’s Junior Hockey League’s Northern Stars, you just might see her when you venture out to buy groceries.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Herring has never been busier and she’s never been closer to the pandemic’s line of fire.
Herring, a 20-year-old University of Manitoba student, likes to say she does three things: “play hockey, go to school and work.”
She’s not playing any hockey these days and at the end of the year, school was an on-line learning experience. Work, however, has never been more intense.
“I’m a cashier at the Superstore at McPhillips,” she said. “There is always a lineup so all I’m doing is working right now. We’ve never been busier.”
On the ice, Herring is as good a player as there is in the MWJHL. A self-described stay-at-home defender, she played in this season’s all-star game and helped the Stars reach the post-season. For a stay-at-home defender, she did well offensive with seven goals and 14 points in 27 games this spat season.
“I’ve always been a stay-at-home defenseman but I’ve been pushing myself to jump up with the play more often,” she said. “I know I need to be more of an offensive player if I want to have a well-rounded game.”
Herring started skating at age three and began playing hockey in the Garden City area at four.
“There weren’t a lot girls playing then so I played boys hockey until I was nine,” she said. “I started playing girls but again, there weren’t enough to make it competitive, so I went back to boys until Grade 9 and then I went back to girls’ hockey.
“I played high school hockey at Garden City Collegiate and when I was done, I thought it might be the end for me, but I had a friend, Maddie Jopling, who played for the Blizzard and she told me that I should try out and that I’d really like it. So, I did and was drafted by the Northern Stars and that’s been my team.”
One might argue that Herring could have been a university player had she spent more time with ice hockey and not all the things she did in high school, but Herring was not going to waste her athletic skills. Along with ice hockey, she participated in varsity field hockey, wrestling, softball and rugby.
Regardless, she proceeded on to university anyway and while she didn’t play for the Bisons, her university experience has been quite successful. Herring will graduate from the Criminology program at the U of M next spring and then she intends to continue on to get an Occupational Therapy degree.
She’s also excited about her future in the MWJHL. She’ll start her third season in the league this fall. Then again, if the pandemic is still upon us, she might be working extra hours at Superstore.
“I just turned 20 so I have two more years in the league if I come back and play as an over-aged player,” Herring explained. “That’s one of the many great things about the league. It gives the girls a real option after high school if they don’t go to university to play.
“I really like my team. Everyone knows each other and gets along well. I’m really looking forward to next season. We work together well and I think we’ll have a real good chance to win.”