Success at Ontario Tech, thanks to her Australian family

Emily Davis-Tope (left) playing for the Melbourne Ice in 2015. Davis-Tope is in her first year playing with the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks. Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Peter Riordan.

The journey for an Ontario Tech hockey player has taken her from Australia to British Columbia before landing in Oshawa.

Emily Davis-Tope, a first-year player for the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks women’s hockey team, is from Bendigo, Australia, about a two-hour drive north of Melbourne.

Davis-Tope, 18, says her family is the main reason for her success on and off the ice in Canada.

She was born in Toronto but her family moved to Australia when she was two-and-a-half years old.

Davis-Tope says life on the other side of the world isn’t a lot different from living here.

“I went to school there and played sports like everybody else,” she says. “I started playing soccer when I was seven and then I also started to figure skate as well.”

She decided to play hockey to follow in her older brother’s footsteps. She says she looked up to her older brother, Jayden, who is a goalie. Her twin brother Charlie also plays. The twins both play defence.

“I’d always watch [my older brother] play and it just made me want to try it. I liked it and moved to B.C. after Grade 10 to play hockey,” she says.

Davis-Tope moved back to Canada to be a part of the Pursuit of Excellence program in Kelowna. The program ran a skating camp in Australia and asked her if she was willing to move to Canada to join their team.

It was there she learned there was an entirely different world of hockey.

“[In Australia] it was the only hockey I ever knew, so I didn’t know the level of hockey I could have been playing,” she adds.

Australia may be better known for cricket, Australian football, and rugby but Davis-Tope is encouraged by the growth of hockey in her home country.

“The sport is growing in Australia a lot more than when I started,” says Davis-Tope. “When I started playing hockey, there were only four girls in my whole age group playing. I’m glad to see it’s growing.”

After playing for two years in Kelowna, Davis-Tope moved to Oshawa to join the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks women’s hockey team.

“I came to a practice with the team around Christmas last year, and honestly I just knew that I wanted to come here instantly,” she says. “I really liked the forward-thinking from the coaches and I really liked the way they run the team.”

Off the ice, Davis-Tope is in her first year of the kinesiology program at Ontario Tech University, something she says can be a challenge to balance sometimes.

“You just have to really focus on your time management,” says Davis-Tope. “I have to really focus on my homework when I have downtime instead of just relaxing.”

Madi Schroder, 18, from Kitchener, is Davis-Tope’s roommate and teammate. She says having Davis-Tope around at home, in class, and around the rink is a great experience.

“Being in the same program allows us to help each other with study schedules outside of hockey,” Schroder says. “We both have different studying techniques and having a balance allows us to work together on concepts the other isn’t quite sure about.”

“As a roommate, she is great to have around,” Schroder adds. “She is always looking to improve both athletically and academically.”

Davis-Tope has now been away from home for three years, while her parents and two brothers are still in Australia. She is in touch with her family almost every day despite the 16-hour time difference.

“They’re always asleep when I wake up so it’s a little complicated,” she says “FaceTime is amazing for that. I feel like when I FaceTime them, I’m really in touch with them, and I get to see what’s happening. It’s just hard being away.”

Davis-Tope recognizes the irony that her strong family has allowed her to explore her hockey abilities, yet the experience is keeping her away from her loved ones.

“It can be hard because family is simply the most important thing for me,” says Davis-Tope.