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A Player’s Coach: Dom Petrie Stays Connected to the Game and Mentors the Next Generation of Girls

Dom Petrie (back left), junior forward on the Harvard women's hockey team and LA Lions coach, poses with the Lions after a 4-1 tournament final victory. The win would cap an undefeated run through the 2020 CCM Dallas Tournament.
Dom Petrie (back left), junior forward on the Harvard women's hockey team and LA Lions coach, poses with the Lions after a 4-1 tournament final victory. The win would cap an undefeated run through the 2020 CCM Dallas Tournament. By Courtesy of Dominique Petrie
By Griffin Wong, Crimson Staff Writer

At first, junior Dom Petrie was excited. It was the morning of Tuesday, March 10, 2020, and the then-sophomore forward was sitting in her 8:00 a.m. “GENED1011: Human Trafficking, Slavery, and Abolition in the Modern World” section when Harvard announced that it would indefinitely be transferring classes online and requesting that all students leave campus.

“We were all in class, and we remember we just were like, ‘No way this is happening. This is real.’ And, at first, we were all so excited because we were like, ‘Oh, yeah! An extended spring break! Let’s go! That’s awesome!’” Petrie recalled.

At the time, the idea of not being able to follow up her 12-goal, 23-assist sophomore campaign, which earned her All-Ivy Second Team honors in 2019-2020, was far from Petrie’s mind.

“We all thought that we were probably going to come back after spring break,” she explained. “And then spring break turned into the rest of the year, and then the rest of the year turned into summer school online, and then summer school turned into this year.”

A year later, Petrie is still at home in Hermosa Beach, Calif., where she starred for a boys’ hockey club, the Anaheim Jr. Ducks. In addition to working towards her economics degree and training on her own time, she is currently serving as the sole assistant coach for the LA Lions, an all-girls hockey team. She seeks to inspire a community that was not nearly as large when she rose through the hockey ranks.

Petrie’s love affair with hockey began when, as a toddler in Northern California, she attended a San Jose Sharks game. Her older brother was enthralled, and she quickly followed suit. She received her first pair of skates for her third birthday and fell in love with scooting around the ice. Eventually, she began playing, first on local teams and then on travel teams.

When she moved to Southern California at the age of ten, there were only one or two girls’ hockey teams in the region. Instead, she played and starred for boys’ teams throughout her hockey career, often alongside her older brother. In the 2017-18 season, she tied for second on the San Diego Jr. Gulls, a boys’ team, in combined goals and assists, in addition to helping the U.S. team win gold at the International Ice Hockey Federation’s 2018 Under-18 Women’s World Championships.

Now, there are more options. Girls’ hockey is growing quickly in Southern California, so more young athletes have the opportunity to join teams like the LA Lions, which was not founded until 2016.

“There weren’t very many opportunities to play girls’ hockey out here when I was growing up,” Petrie said. “That’s the biggest thing that’s changed, is now you have two well-established organizations that kids can [join], and I think you’re only going to continue to see that number grow.”

“Ice hockey has grown tremendously in Southern California in the last twenty years, and girls’ hockey, and the Lions program, in particular, is seeing its own level of exponential growth over the last five years,” added Lions head coach Andrew Stone in an email to The Crimson.

Petrie’s love for hockey and the opportunity to mentor younger athletes were important factors in her decision to accept the position with the Lions. Last summer, a family friend introduced her to coaching, and after giving a few lessons and enjoying it, she decided to give it a shot.

“If I was going to work, I wanted to do something that I would enjoy and have fun doing that wasn’t going to look like a job, and to me [coaching ice hockey is] the last thing from that,” she explained.

At Lions practices, Petrie mostly runs the defense and provides hands-on, in-depth instruction to her players. The Lions are a small team, which allows her to work closely with each individual athlete, running drills and demonstrating proper technique. She pushes them to step outside their comfort zones and try new moves. Most importantly, though, she prioritizes creating a fun, safe space for her athletes to be themselves.

“[Petrie]’s coaching style is very complementary to my own,” Stone wrote. “We both comprehend and communicate the importance of mental strength and positive character to the players. You can have all the talent and skill in the world, but without the ability to stay positive while dealing with adversity, such talent and ability is minimized.”

Petrie’s mentorship has already resulted in significant improvements, both on and off the ice. Years of high-level hockey experience have allowed her to break down moves to every minute detail, and she has been able to provide personalized instruction to all of her players. In addition to the Lions’ victories on the ice, she has garnered her players’ trust.

“It’s been awesome to see where the girls might have been super quiet at the start of the year have really started to open up and come to me and talk to me about things, so being able to be relatable with these kids [has been very rewarding], especially since it’s something that I’ve gone through,” she said.

In Lions practices, Petrie relays the lessons she has learned through years of hockey. She hopes to instill Harvard Hockey’s culture, which values open-mindedness, effort, and attention to detail, in her athletes, who range in age from 10 to 14. Prioritizing discipline at such a young age allows young hockey players to develop mental strength and a good work ethic. Petrie is optimistic that these are lessons that will serve these girls well if they choose to follow her path.

“I think that that’s so important to have as a young girl playing hockey, especially in California; having someone that sees you can take this path, you can stay playing hockey in California, you don’t have to go off to the East Coast and play in a prep school, and show them that you can do you, you can rock you, and you can be 100% yourself and do what you want,” she said. “And it’s okay if your path is different from everyone else’s.”

However, the girls on the Lions roster are not the only ones reaping the benefits of Petrie’s coaching. Petrie herself has learned some valuable lessons from the process as well, including a deeper understanding of hockey fundamentals and a greater appreciation for the complexity of coaching.

Plus, as she prepares to bid for a spot on the U.S. Women’s National Team roster for the 2022 Beijing Olympics and for her senior season at Harvard, Petrie may have a new trick or two up her sleeve on the ice as well.

“One of them has been teaching me a new move,” she said with a smile. “I can’t wait to pull it off in a game.”

— Staff writer Griffin Wong can be reached at griffin.wong@thecrimson.com.

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