Shannon & Theo! Photo courtesy Will Turner.

SHANNON DOYLE: THOUGHTS FROM BEHIND THE "C"

If you follow our amazing #6 Shannon Doyle on any of her social media accounts, (and you should) you know she has a pretty awesome and pretty visible workout partner, Theo the Friendly Bear.  Theo is her amazing canine of course, and you may have seen Theo at one of the Whale home games this season too. And if you did, you saw her other workout partner, the amazing Will Turner.Theo likes to bring Will to the games too, to root for Shannon out on the ice or at the autograph table. In fact, when we caught up with Shannon after the season ended, she discussed some of that training with us.

"When it comes to training, Will, since he is a Strength and Conditioning Coach, really helps me stay on track, and avoid injuries. And helps refocus me when I get a little too focused on one training system or style. What I mean by that, for example, is I love to run outside when the season is over. I avoid it in season because it isn’t good for my hips. And I need to manage the strain I place on them so I can be my best on the ice. But, running can also be a little too much for my hips, so he will remind me to do HIIT instead of longer runs or vice versa! I am incredibly lucky to be able to pick his brain!”
Cetacean Nation agrees 100%. For those not familiar, HIIT is a highly effective tool for training when supervised by someone like Will. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) usually consists of short, hard bouts of cardio exercise, in this case, running. Maybe 10 seconds to five minutes in length, interspersed with brief recovery periods. Not unlike the fartlek workouts of distance runners, but more structured and focused. And concerning the pandemic, Shannon added “ Luckily during this uncertain time I have my fiancé Will with me and a tight knit community supporting me whenever I feel overwhelmed or just need to talk with someone, these systems being with GCDS (Greenwich Country Day School where Shannon teaches) and the NWHL.”

Shannon is the Captain of the Whale, an All-Star multiple times, and an OW (0riginal Whale). She is the face of the franchise. She has played for the Pod since the first game in NWHL history, and will return to the Whale this fall for Season Six for both the league and Shannon. Last season Shannon played every game for the Pod, and led the team in assists, blocked shots, PIM, and scoring. She is the Whale career leader in all these categories except scoring, where she ranks very close to the top at third. She also has laced ‘em up the most of any player in Whale history, playing in 94 games for the Pod. So Cetacean Nation wondered which of the stats, other than wins and losses, meant the most to Shannon. She replied

“Wow! I didn’t realize I was on top of so many stats for the franchise. I’ve been so lucky to play with so many wonderful players, like Sam Faber, Goldy, Juice, Leonoff... I mean the list goes on and on. I think, as you know, blocks mean a lot to me because it’s a sacrifice you're willing to make for your team. Even when you know it is going to hurt. But I love knowing I’ve contributed with assists! . Making the smart play up the ice, or seeing the open player who has a better position to score is something that I have found easier since I’ve climatized to the league and found more confidence”

Shannon celebrating with her teammates after a Whale goal. Photo courtesy of Al Saniuk

We told Shannon we really enjoyed her Original Eight podcast segment with the amazing Erica Ayala. Among other things, Shannon mentioned that she liked seeing her teammates score their first goal. Shannon’s first goal was 11/29/15 vs Boston, a game in which Shannon also had an assist on the eventual game winner by our #9 Molly Engstrom. We asked her about that, and if she had any particular recollection about her own first goal. She replied enthusiastically

"Yes! I love seeing my teammates get their first goal! It is such a wonderful experience to be a part of and I’m luck to have been there to celebrate so many of my current and former teammates reaching that achievement! Well, my first goal was from the point (big surprise!) and I remember thinking how my forwards made a nice play to get it up top and then drive the net for a screen. They had Ott in net and she would stop any point shot she could see, so they did a great job of taking her eyes away and I hit the target! Sadly, about 2 shifts later I broke two of my fingers in that game. But it was worth it!”  Spoken like a true warrior. Flash forward to this past season and Shannon picked up another pretty gruesome injury to her finger. We didn’t ask, but we’re pretty sure she would have said that one was worth it too.

Weirdly, as the pandemic continued, Season Five wasn’t over actually over, as the Isobel Cup Final between the Whitecaps and Pride was never contested. Eventually the postponed Championship was wisely, but painfully, cancelled by the league. We asked Shannon to comment about that from a players perspective, including how soon a player could get ready for that one game? She replied this way

"So regarding the isobel Cup final, my heart goes out to those two teams. Being stuck waiting like that must have been really difficult. With social distancing, you couldn’tb train like you’d need to for such a big game. I think if you are being realistic about how much time players would like to prep, I would say close to a month at that point. Players hadn’t been able to skate, hadn’t seen each other, and had traveled home if they don’t call Boston or Minnesota home already. A lot goes into prepping for a game of that magnitude so you want to prepare right.”

Previously Shannon had stated.  “My parents supported my love of reading as a child and always purchased every book I requested. I can’t imagine a life without books – especially now that I am an English teacher and lucky to be surrounded by literature every day.”: That is pretty special in it’s own right, but even more so in the context of something else Shannon has become involved in. One of the many cool things about Season Five, was the work that many of the players did for particular charities and organzations. And the way the fans, their teammates and their opponents rallied to support their efforts. Shannon as you may know, was involved with a program called Room To Read, that she supported through her Blocks For Books initiative. Shannon donated money for each shot she blocked, which others matched or donated in support of. A pretty cool program, and as we just mentioned, Shannon led the league in blocked shots, so also a pretty successful one for the young readers. We wondered how  Shannon got involved, and she explained

“I got involved with Room To Read through my school, GCDS, as they support them every year around Christmas time, with parent donations and faculty donations and try to volunteer with them too. They are a fabulous program.” 

We wrapped up our conversation with Shannon by asking her what she thought was in store for the fans in the 2020-2021 season. She replied

 “The momentum we have coming out of 2019-2020 is amazing, this was a tumultuous year for women’s ice hockey and the support we had was incredible. Next season is going to be even better! we (as a league) constantly learn as we go and notice what works and what needs work. So you can expect more of the things you loved (Twitch, interviews, social media... etc) and the players will continue to be ambassadors for the game and work hard to put a product on the ice you love to watch.” 

Cetacean Nation thanks our amazing #6 Shannon Doyle for sharing her thoughts on these topics with us, and for leaving us even more excited for Season Six than we already were! Fins Up to that, and Fins Up Forever to Shannon

Shannon at the 2020 All Star Game in Boston