Husky on ice
The North Marion High School athletics department offers a cornucopia of options for the winter sports season, from basketball to swimming, cheer, equestrian and wrestling.
But what's a student athlete to do if their tastes run a bit...cooler?
For senior Cam Leggett, it meant trading in the green and white school colors of the Huskies in favor of the teal and black of the Jr. Winterhawks.
A captain on her high school hockey team, Leggett was recognized on Sunday as part of senior night as she prepares to wrap up her regular season and make a state playoff run. For Leggett, the evening was the culmination of a five-year journey that began as middle school curiosity and soon became a full-blown obsession.
"Most kids go in because their parents played hockey or they wanted to do hockey when they were really young," Leggett said.
Not so for the North Marion senior who was drawn to the sport on a whim after watching an anime called Hetalia, which featured a character from Canada who bore a striking resemblance to Leggett.
That led to further research on all things Canada, which naturally brought her to the country's national sport — ice hockey. Leggett was mesmerized.
"I ran out to my parents and said, 'I want to play ice hockey!'" she said. "They looked at me and they're like, 'You don't even know how to skate.'"
But that didn't prove to be a barrier. Leggett's parents encouraged her exploration of the sport, signing her up for skating lessons the summer before high school and graduating to hockey lessons throughout her freshman year.
At the conclusion of her lessons, Leggett didn't know where to go. Few hockey players pick up the sport entering high school and all that was available was a Jr. Winterhawks varsity league for high school players.
Leggett signed up immediately, a month before the season began, and went out for tryouts.
"I get to tryouts and I'm the worst skater there. I have no idea what I'm doing, and I didn't realize I had signed up for boys, full-contact, checking hockey," Leggett said.
Undeterred, Leggett continued her pursuit of the sport, though her lack of experience made her an easy target for the more experienced players. Leggett recalled her first game having trouble just trying to get over the boards and onto the ice, falling over in the process in uncoordinated heap.
"I'm not on the ice for but two seconds before someone splatters me against the boards," Leggett said.
Despite the lack of basic knowledge of the sport and a relative inability to play, Leggett took to hockey like a duck to water. Her teammates were quick to jump to her defense and help her to become a hockey player, making sure opponents paid the price if they though to prey on an easy target.
"Everyone on the other team knew that if you hurt Cam, you were going to have my center, Dylan, coming for you," she said.
Leggett had roughly two dozen games to get the full hockey experience, embracing everything the sport had to offer, propelling her into her junior season.
Her skills on the ice continued to improve as she became more comfortable in her primary position playing as left wing. Leggett's team finished second in league her junior year, leading into her senior 2018-19 season, where her senior-heavy team had gone unbeaten heading into Sunday's senior night.
Leggett's team didn't have a captain for the opening games of the season until her coach tabbed teammates Muriel Wilkinson and Makenna Clark as alternate captains and Leggett as captain.
"That blew my mind, because this is only my third year playing," Leggett said. "I think it's really cool, because we're the first time in the varsity league's history that all three girls have been the captains of the team."
Though the sport is largely dominated by male players, all the boys on the team eagerly embraced the choice. While Wilkinson and Clark are more experienced players, Leggett's untethered commitment to the sport was a source of inspiration amongst the coaches and players.
"In my case, I'm not particularly vocal," she said, "He put me in because I work really hard and try to set a good example for the team."
A talented musician as well, Leggett intends to continue her education at the University of Oregon playing the upright bass. And in her free time? Well, it just so happens the Ducks have a co-ed club hockey team, and Leggett has already made contacts to try out for the team this fall.