Perhaps not in terms of wins and losses or Championships, but there were a lot of great moments during her four years skating as a forward for the Bulldogs. Bray had a near perfect balance of goals (41) and assists (43) and never ranked lower than third in points any season. She won numerous team and conference awards and ended her career in Yale''s career top 12 in goals (41, 7th), assists (43, 12th) and points (84, 11th). But her favorite moment at Yale was not a specific play, game, or season. When we asked what it was she replied:
"Honestly, it’s the teammates that I had. Each year it was a totally different team, which was exciting. And the friends I’ve made from those experiences are the most special thing that I’ll take out of Yale. Playing with someone like Mandi Schwartz, who unfortunately passed away my senior year, having that chance to build a relationship with her family. And all the close knit bonds that even my parents have with some of the parents on the team, it was a pretty special place in that regard. And obviously there are some games I remember, certain instances, but I would say overall the people I met there and the relationships I made"
Cetacean Nation thought that was a great answer, and told you a lot about the type of person Bray is. But as she said, there were some games, and we actually posted about one early in the day that we interviewed her, and Bray remarked “So funny! One of my best friends who’s in that picture with me celebrating, just sent me a message, I guess her family, her brothers , had just sent it. And she said “We made the family chat! I love that they follow you, you must have a huge fanbase.” Well, we are Cetacean Nation, the fans of the Connecticut Whale, so yes, there are a lot of us!
When Bray’s hockey career ended at Yale in her senior year, her athletic career as a Bulldog did not. Remember that Bray played lacrosse in prep school? So did she, and as a senior she joined the Yale lacrosse team becoming a dual athlete. Bray related:
" I’d always wanted to play both sports, but unfortunately because I was trying to make USA Hockey camps, I was focused solely on hockey. So I figured once my senior year hockey season was done, I was going to try lacrosse. Not knowing I was going to,play, obviously we do running, and some training like sprints (in hockey), but the hamstrings were definitely not ready for full running in lacrosse season. So that was tough, but it was fun. It was tough because it was my senior spring, and I didn’t get to enjoy that aspect as much, but it was great to be part of a team again and do a different sport. But I will say it was definitely hard coming back after playing the last time, in my senior year in high school. I don’t remember exactly, but I think I had a hat trick, the last game against Stony Brook, I think it was. I definitely wish I had played all four years, it would have been a lot easier, but obviously hockey was my number one priority, so….".
Bray was correct about the hat trick in her last lacrosse game at Yale, and we checked and she also had an assist and four ground balls, and four shots on goal. That’s the same number of SOG she had in her last game on ice for the Bulldogs!
Bray had mentioned her former teammate Mandi Schwartz, whose #17 Bray wore in the NWHL instead of her own Yale sweater number 27. Mandi has played 73 consecutive games with the team before being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2008. After a courageous battle, Mandi passed away in 2011.Her Yale community banded together during her illness to try to locate a match for a bone marrow transplant for Mandi, and the efforts have continued in her name with the Mandi Schwartz Foundation. Bray explained:
"We have the annual marrow donor drive at Yale which we started in April,of that first year, 2008, when she got sick, to try and find a match for her. And it’s been going on ever since. The Yale football team does a great job, they run it with the hockey program and the whole Athletic Department. It is great getting involved, and we’ve set record numbers. I think they’ve now found over sixty matches from that and other drives in Mandi’s name. And of course just last year the St Louis Blues announced a match had been found through one of their drives. It’s been very impactful, getting to know Mandi’s parents and doing it with them, they’re an incredible family. And obviously Jaden has been very successful with the Blues, and that’s been helpful there. They’re a great organization that backs the Foundation in all that we do. Her other brother Rylan is playing overseas. My teammate Aleca (Hughes) started the Foundation, and we were the first two to be on the Board, and we have a few others as well on the board. But basically we’re trying to spread awareness for the cause, and raising money to help fund these drives in Mandi’s name. We are actually hosting the White Out For Mandi February 1st at Yale and we are working on organizing that. Mallory Souliotis from the Boston Pride and I do not have games that day, so we will both be there”
The White Out For Mandi game on February 1st will be at 3:00 PM vs Quinnipiac at Ingalls Rink. We will post more info on the game and the Foundation in the coming days, on our social media sires (see our Home Page for links)
Before moving off campus, we asked Bray to tell us a little about her off ice time in the classroom at Yale, where she got her BA in American Studies. She said:
"Originally I went in thinking I wanted to get my teaching degree, and they actually got rid of the education major at Yale. So I took a few classes in that area, and then after Yale taught a few years while I was in Boston and in Brooklyn. The first year I,played with the Riveters, I taught pre-school, I loved the little kids, After working at Chelsea Piers and coaching them, I thought that’s what I want to go in to. So, that got taken away from the Majors, and American Studies is basically American History. It was pretty generic, nothing too exciting and nothing that’s helped me since (laughing) in terms of my career! :) And being in a liberal arts school it was Econ, History, English, and I chose history.”
Perhaps her degree in and of itself hasn’t helped in her career(s) to date, but her liberal arts background undoubtedly has. And along with the off the chart competitiveness of a pro athlete, she took a dive into the maelstrom of entrepreneurship with a plant based beverage, Upwild. Bray filled us in on that venture: