Women's Hockey

Varsity Reds Land First Recruit

Paige Grenier, middle, is the first player to join the Varsity Reds women's hockey team which returns to the ice in the 2018-19 season. The Olds, Alberta, forward is currently a member of the Red Deer AAA Chiefs, of the Alberta Female Hockey League. (Submitted Photo)
Paige Grenier, middle, is the first player to join the Varsity Reds women's hockey team which returns to the ice in the 2018-19 season. The Olds, Alberta, forward is currently a member of the Red Deer AAA Chiefs, of the Alberta Female Hockey League. (Submitted Photo)

(FREDERICTON, NB) Sarah Hilworth sees Paige Grenier as a future leader and, potentially, a future captain of the reborn UNB Varsity Reds women’s hockey team.

That’s why Hilworth, the head coach of the new team, wanted Grenier to be the first recruit she introduced.

“Paige possesses the intangibles that are necessary to be successful as a team player and as a leader,” said Hilworth, herself a former university team captain. “She’s a natural leader, and I believe over the course of Paige’s career she’ll continue to develop her leadership skills and will leave a lasting impact on this program and this community.”

The 17-year-old Grenier, a forward from Olds, Alberta, is the first player to sign a Letter of Offer to join the Varsity Reds when they return to the ice in the 2018-19 season.

“Being the first to sign is obviously something special and something I won’t forget,” said Grenier. “I’m excited for the coming year, and watching as the team takes shape.”

Grenier is entering her Grade 12 year at Olds High School.

It’s no coincidence that Hilworth came to UNB from Olds, where she coached the Olds College Broncos for two seasons.

Hilworth has had her eye on Grenier for some time.

“Paige is the kind of person that exemplifies the commitment necessary to be an outstanding athlete and student,” said Hilworth. “She works hard to be the difference in every game and, as a captain, she’s shown her ability to lead, even at a young age.”

Grenier is the captain of the Red Deer Midget AAA Chiefs, of the Alberta Female Hockey League. In 2015, the Chiefs hosted the Esso Cup, Canada’s women’s midget hockey championship, losing in the final.

In 2014, Grenier was a member of the gold medal winning women’s hockey team at the Alberta Winter Games. She was a member of Alberta’s U16 team during the 2014-15 season, and is looking to make the province’s U18 squad this season.

She knows being the first player to join the returning Varsity Reds may come with some pressure.

“It won’t be any different than the pressures faced by the others who sign here,” said Grenier. “I just want to meet and exceed all expectations placed on the team, especially in that first year as we start to establish the culture and identity of our team.”

And just as Hilworth has been watching Grenier, the teen has been watching the coach.

“I’ve witnessed first-hand as Sarah built a program at the college level and the countless hours she invested to ensure her team could be the best they could be. I’m excited to be part of something like that.”

Along with a rigorous playing schedule, Grenier also serves as a volunteer coach with the Olds Minor Hockey Association, giving back to the game she loves, and maintains solid marks at school.

“Paige is an above 90% average student in one of the top schools in Alberta,” said Hilworth. “She has the independence needed to succeed at the university level.”

“I chose UNB because of the opportunity to be part of a new program and to play for a coach who I know will push me to be better not only as a hockey player, but as a person,” said Grenier.