So Cetacean Nation was curious how all this got started for Mariah, and with her height at 5’11”, if she had tried any other sports, particularly basketball. She replied
“Definitely being tall gives you the advantage of trying a lot of different things. And definitely just because I was tall, I got selected to play basketball. In my elementary school, and my high school for a couple of years as well. But overall I think what was really great about my experience growing up was that my parents gave me the opportunity to be introduced to all sports. I’m so grateful for that because it gave me the athleticism as well as the different characteristics that you pick up from each one of those sports.So I was able to create an understanding that no matter what sport you go into, there are going to be amazing life lessons that you were going to learn. Different challenges, obstacles and adversities that you’re going to face along the way. But ultimately it was really from day one honestly, that I was going to chose hockey to be my primary sport. I loved being on the ice! I learned how to skate my first winter basically. I was right on skates with my brother on the backyard rink. And we just spent hours out there. I started out with those little two bladed skates that your shoes just go right into the little booties. We did that until we didn’t have a backyard rink anymore. So it was many fond memories of the backyard rink, and our neighbors coming over. But just my brother and I constantly improving., and having fun with it. That was the best part. So I loved that.” She continued “And I actually competitively figure skated, and played hockey, They were my primary focuses, along with soccer. So I had two summer sports that I focused on and two winter sports that I focused on for about a decade. My winter sports were hockey and figure skating and my summer sports were soccer and swimming. And I competed in all of those at a very high level. But it ultimately came down to having to pick one, if you really want to take this to the next level. And I got to that fork in the road where: Ok, what’s my favorite? And it was a no brainer. I wanted to be on the ice nine out of seven days a week!” she laughed "Sign me up for everything! It was really a simple decision for me in my life to decide to take hockey to the next level. And to put all my marbles in one bag kind of thing.”
Mariah hails from Markham, Ontario in the greater Toronto area, and tended goal for the Markham-Stoufville Stars. Cetacean Nation wondered how it was that Mariah ended up playing her college hockey at the University of Maine. She related this interesting tale of how that came about, Interesting also in the fact that she has never told it before!
“I went to various different prospecting camps, and when you’re playing hockey in Toronto, there are often a lot of eyes on you. Because of the density of hockey players in the area, when you are at tournaments over the weekends. So I was at a prospecting camp on the outskirts, in the Niagara area, it was called Elite Prospects. It was a great showcase, to be able to have a lot of scouts that were out there watching you day in and day out for five or six days. We were on the ice for goalie sessions, skills sessions, and we obviously had games and practices, It was just a great opportunity. There were a lot of girls there from that weekend that I went on to play against during my career.. And it turned out there were a actually a couple of girls from the University of Maine. College students that came to the weekend as coaches and stuff.as well as the scouts that were there for the teams. So I just remember sitting down on the grass and just chatting with one of the Maine girls about going to University of Maine. And I was just picking her brain, asking her different questions about the things that stood out to her about the culture, and the environment of the school, and what she was studying. Just the day to day campus life, to get a better picture of what it was like for her. So that conversation, and my conversations subsequently with the coaching stall, it just really all came together.. Pieces of the puzzle, it was exactly what I was looking for. Other schools that I was recruited by and how those conversations went, it just wasn’t a full puzzle. And so it just made sense for me to go to the University of Maine. They had a program I wanted to study, Nutrition and Agriculture. The culture was everything that I stood fo. All that work ethic, commitment, everything like that. And it was something I wanted to be a part of. So then when I went on my official visit there, it just made sense to me that I make that decision.”
Mariah added "It’s not everyday, especially now during Covid, that when you are getting recruited and are there in a visit, you get a totally authentic perspective. I thought like we’re nowhere near the campus, and she just shared authentically what her experience was. It’s a good indicator when you hear the good, the bad & the ugly. You get a holistic perspective of what the experience really is for that student athlete and you can kind of visualize that this is what you want or maybe it’s a different program but you look into it. So it was definitely a unique experience to be able to spit ball with her and hear how her time was. And it just so happened that it worked out that what she was expressing was what I was looking for. At the time Maine was one of the top schools there that weekend that were recruiting me. And from all the schools that we had access to, speaking to the different girls on the team or just interacting with them. Or just having them run our skill sessions and just being part of our experience, it was very apparent to me then I wanted to take full advantage during that time to hear what her experience was.” So now you know, it was just a friendly chat on the lawn that led to Mariah’s decision to attend Maine. She had the ends out for the tie that binds, so to speak.
Mariah had once described herself as being “Passionate about inspiring and empowering people to live a healthy balanced lifestyle” We asked her about that, and about the fact that she was organic farm manager as part of her college education. She explained:
"One of my biggest philosophies in life is just to empower people to step into the fullest version of themselves, and allow them to flourish in every area of life. And for me, I’ve taken every opportunity and I’ve created opportunities where I’ve gotten to serve others. And to be able to take extra steps in their wellness journey to allow them to do so. So for me my experience with the farm was extremely incredible. Something that if you had asked me a few years before that it actually happened, I never would have believed that it but have become a reality. But I’m so grateful that it did. So when I was at the University of Maine I was studying nutrition. I had always been very passionate about nutrition and how you can use food to heal your body." (“Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food” as Hippocrates wrote in antiquity) "When I was at the University of Maine it was studying nutrition and agriculture and I always knew that I want to work in space of health and wellness. Both of my parents come from working in that space say something that was really ingrained in me from a young age to live a holistic lifestyle."
She continued “At Maine I was a “red-shirt” my first year, which meant I didn’t play in any games. But it also gave me an extra year of eligibility, so I was able to have five years at the University of Maine. So putting ththis together in my head i thought: I’ve got five years here and I’m going to finish my degree in four. So should I go on to do my Masters or should I take on a little bit more undergrad schooling? . I am a pretty ambitious person and committed to what I set my eyes on. So as I was reviewing everything, I said to myself that I didn’t want to pursue my Masters at the time, because I knew that I wanted to play hockey afterwards. And no one can play at the highest level in Maine, so I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to do my Masters there, so that really wasn’t as much of an option back five years ago. So I said to myself: Let’s take on a little bit more. And so I took on a triple minor at the school. In Sustainable Living, and that was just incredible, and then also Sustainable Agriculture. So both of those, I ended up with a double minor, as the third one I ended up dropping. I got approached by one of my teachers who saw something in me. Sometimes it just takes someone to see a little spark in you to give you an opportunity. Similar to how I was recruited to the University of Maine. Someone’s got to see a little something in you."
"So the professor approached me and said: I’d like you to put your name in the running for being the manager of this farm, because it is run through the school. So I got a little more information about it, and it lit my soul on fire right from the get go. It was a project managing over 3 acres of land it was only going to be three of us working there. And it just so happened that all three of us were women, which I loved even more, all of us students in the agricultural program. So we managed that land beginning right from seeds starting in February and the green houses. Then we moved into plantings directly into into the ground starting in May. It was the full swing of things, 60 hour work weeks minimum, working the land. Doing everything from planting to harvesting and everything in between. So we managed these three acres of land and fed over 60 families. It was CSA, Community Supported Agriculture. So people buy in at the beginning of the season, and then they come in weekly to,pick-up the vegetables that we harvest.”
Mariah added “I was really intrigued with making that connection between the seeds and the fruit of your labor.Taking vegetables and being able to hand deliver them to the people who are going to be eating them. And to see their health become more radiant. See the effects what food really can do. It has a massive impact on peoples lives. So we had 80 shareholders on the organic farm.. It’s such a cool idea. And it just so happened that we had such an amazing year. The land was so fruitful, and we were able to,provide so much to the families. More than what we had ever expected, so we were so grateful for that. And it was such an incredible experience to be able to bond with the people on such a deeper level. In Maine, there is not that much out there, you see more deer than people. So it was great to get involved with the community during the summertime. Especially because most summers I was just going home to Toronto to train for hockey. But this certain summer, I was able to stay at Mains and be able to train there and be able to work at the farm.”