Imagine you’re completing your university degree. Now imagine you’re completing your university degree while representing your country at an international level. Now imagine you’re completing your university degree while representing your country at an international level and you’re trying to captain a team that’s existed for over 100 years to another national championship.
For Mélodie Daoust, captain of the McGill Martlets for the past two years, it’s a delicate balance that she has perfected over her past 5 years at McGill. “For me, I go to school in the morning until class ends at around 2:30 p.m. After that I go to the gym, and then to practice until I get home at around 7 p.m. and start cooking dinner. Then I start homework at around 9 and usually go until 11,” Daoust said when trying to explain a day in the life of a McGill student athlete.
Naturally this leaves little room for down time. Daoust expressed such a sentiment when asked if she had any TV show or book recommendations. “I started watching The OC in Finland (at the Four Nations Cup), but you’ve heard my schedule. I don’t really have time to keep that up when I’m at school.”
One thing that is clear is that Daoust really loves McGill, and loves the team she plays for. “We have 11 new players this year, which is awesome. It’s changing the blood of the team, and for me personally, I'm just trying to help them grow as players and as individuals. I want to leave them with what the other players left me with and try to help them as much as possible so that when I'm gone they can do the same for future players.” Daoust recently scored her 100th career CIS goal, an event she didn’t register at first but is grateful for all the same. “I didn’t even realize until after, but it was a great personal achievement,” she laughed before going on to praise the skill of her linemates for the past five seasons. “I’ve gotten to play with amazing teammates, and for every one of those goals I need to give credit to those who have played with me. It’s just fun to be surrounded by people who care about hockey and making the people around them better.”
It’s easy to forget you’re talking to an Olympian when talking to Daoust as she expresses an affection for apple and peanut butter as her go-to study snack as well as confessing that she doesn’t really listen to a ton of music. “I know it’s unusual for a hockey players,” she laughed after being asked about what was on her pregame playlist [a seemly age-old ritual for the millennial hockey player]. “Some people like certain songs, but for me whatever is in the room, or whatever other people are listening to during warmup, I go with that.” While studying for her degree in physical education, her favorite classes have been the practical ones: she cited basketball and tennis as two of her favorites, along with the sports psychology class she attended last year.
That international experience does, however, become glaringly obvious when asked about her favorite hockey moment. “Sochi, the final was the greatest moment of my life — I think it’s a really good example of why not to give up until the very end.” The 24-year-old has been a consistent member of the Canadian women's national program since then, most recently journeying with them to Finland as part of the team to compete at the Four Nations Tournament. Canada would eventually come away with a silver medal after falling to the U.S. in the finals, but the forward seemed to be focusing on largely on the positives. “It [Four Nations] was a great experience for the team. I think we grew as a team as we went along. When we beat USA in the prelims we were very proud of it because we played Canada hockey and took care of the details. Maybe we didn’t do so quite as much in the final, but there is room for improvement and we just need to focus on the goal and learn from this in the future.”
With graduation looming closer, Daoust is looking to the future, not just in hockey but also in life. “I’m looking to find a job in a school and start working as a physical education teacher, but long-term I would love to be hired as a coach for a university team.” As for hockey, “Hopefully playing for the Les Canadiennes in the CWHL as well as being centralized for 2018 [the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang].”
“I think hockey has given me a sense of being surrounded by family and friends. My family have been really supportive of me and have always been there. Moments like car rides with my parents, with my brother and friends, you can’t go past that. Being a university hockey player is harder, and it takes a lot of dedication and determination, but when I look back at it I'm just proud to be part of a family bigger than myself. You really feel like you’re part of something here [at McGill]. People at the university and in class know about the hockey team; and all those memories you are going to be able to share along the way.”
Entering her final year of hockey at McGill, Daoust is still seeking that illusive CIS championship, having previously come in second and third before missing McGill’s championship season after she redshirted to join Team Canada for the Olympic year. Winning the championship this season would mean completing Daoust’s trophy cabinet. The skater already previously won CIS rookie of the year, and backed it up in her sophomore season by earning CIS player of the year, becoming the first player in CIS women’s hockey history to do so — leading the league in scoring during a season in which McGill went for a perfect 20-0. However, as she and her team are aiming to close out her university career with a win, all eyes are still on the future and the hope of bringing home another gold medal to Canada in 2018.