For newest Honourary Renegade, hockey changed her life
By Mark Squibb
Jamie Randell with daughter Kate, 5, at a special ceremony last Saturday at which Mom was named an Honorary Renegade, or member of Conception Bay South’s junior hockey team. Kate is a hockey player just like her mom. Randell, who began playing hockey in the late 1980’s with CBS Minor Hockey and went on to play and coach at elite levels, said girls today are afforded more opportunities to play hockey than in years past. Submitted photo
When Jamie Randell decided she wanted to join a hockey team, she didn’t think it was that odd — lots of kids her age were playing hockey.
But Jamie was a girl, and hockey, apparently, wasn’t meant for girls.
“When I started playing hockey in the late 1980’s, there were very few girls playing hockey,” said Randell. “I remember telling my parents that I wanted to play, and the immediate response was, ‘Well, girls don’t play hockey.’ But I went up and registered, and I got on the ice, and everybody was very supportive. It was different to see a girl out there, but everybody from the association was supportive, along with my coaches and my teammates and my family, and I was just another kid playing hockey. I didn’t have to face any kind of discrimination based on gender or anything like that, and I think that without that support, I probably would have quit hockey. I probably wouldn’t have continued on.”
Randell continued to play and hone her skills and would become the first girl to play All Star hockey in CBS.
Later, she was named Team Captain for the 1995 Canada Games Girls Hockey Team, and Assistant Captain for Team NL at the Esso Women’s Senior Nationals in North Sydney.
Following her playing days, she would go on to coach a number of successful teams, including the gold medal winning Elmira College team.
“When I went to Elmira in 2001, it was a brand-new program, we had 18 freshmen, a sophomore, and a junior, and we won the national championships two years in a row,” said Randell. “And that team was actually honoured by the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. They sent a bus down to our school, we made the four-hour drive to Toronto, and there was a photo display of our team and the stick and the gloves of the girl who scored the winning goal. So, that was probably one of the highlights of my coaching career.”
For the last seven years she has been a coach with the Clarenville Minor Hockey Association. She currently coaches Clarenville’s U11 team.
Randall has had a front row seat for the evolution of girls’ hockey over the years, both as a player and as a coach and volunteer.
“When I started playing girls hockey in the early 90’s, it was really just getting started,” said Randell. “Most of the girls were just learning how to skate. Most girls didn’t really know a whole lot of the rules of the game. And so, when I started playing girls hockey I had already been playing with the boys for three or four years. You might have one or two players on your team who could skate from end-to-end, and they were the ones scoring a lot of the goals, and so there was a really huge skill disparity on the team between the people who had probably played boys hockey for a year or two compared to the people who were just starting. With female hockey groups now, the skill is just amazing… it’s very serious, competitive hocky, and it’s just as serious as the boys. And now, with the introduction of the PWHL (Professional Women’s Hockey League), girls have something else to strive for. So, it’s a really great time to be a girl involved with hockey — there’s so much opportunity. Like, when I finished high school, there was no opportunity to do anything else. I graduated high school and that was the end of my hockey career.”
This past week, Randell was named the CBR Junior Renegades 2023-2024 Honourary Renegade at a special ceremony at the CBS Arena.
“I feel very honoured- ‘Honourary Renegade’ is the perfect title,” said Randell. “I’ve been involved in hockey for so long now that you don’t really think about, from one year to the next, what you’ve done. Dave Eason, who is the head coach of the Junior Renegades, contacted me a month or so ago and told me that he wanted to nominate me, and he asked me if I could do up a little bio. And when you go back 30 years and put it all on paper, you realize, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of experience.’ From playing to coaching to volunteering, it’s been quite a ride. I was a little bit embarrassed on the ice, to be honest, during the ceremony when they started to read it all out. I was thinking, these players must be thinking ‘Come on lady, let’s just drop the puck already.’”
The ceremony was an opportunity for Randell to rub shoulders with people who have come and gone over the past 30 years— including another female Honourary Renegade.
“Sarah Davis, another Honourary Renegade, I coached her at the 2007 Canada Games, so having her stand next to me on the ice while this presentation was happening was pretty neat too,” said Randell. “You meet so many wonderful people for a short time, and then you move on to the next experience, and while they’re so close and so important in that moment, as you move on and you have different experiences, you lose touch with people, and so it was really a nice opportunity even to get back and reconnect with some people that I haven’t seen in a long time.”
Randell said she joined the sport on a whim but fell in love with it once she hit the ice. She recommends that anyone give hockey a shot, even if it is intimidating, at first.
“Give it a try — it’s a fantastic sport, and for me, it’s provided a lifetime of opportunity,” she said.
Randell is the tenth person to be named an honourary Renegade since 2010. Past recipients include Ford Metcalfe, Bob Cole, Scott Parsons, Marg Noftle, Sandra Baggs, Sarah Davis, Mel Strong, Glad Duff, and Eric Schibler.