The Ice Garden has a series, “Rink Ink,” which features various hockey players’ tattoos. A form of self-expression, tattoos provide unique insights into the players’ lives — their mottos, their beliefs, their motivations, their interests. For the next installment, The Ice Garden spoke with retired Buffalo Beaut Ashley Vesci. Yes, we at The Ice Garden are sad as well. Apparently, all the NWHL needs is a Pittsburgh team, and she’ll play forever.
Can you tell me a little about your tattoos and their meanings?
I kind of have a lot of tattoos, like somewhere around 20!
The coolest one is my half-sleeve. It starts with an image of a wolf, but it's sort of hidden in a bunch of flowers and other things, almost like a collage. [The collage] spills down into a book that's opening up, and there's a forest scene coming out of it. It plays on the idea of everyone creates their own stories, and we're all just stories in the end.
The wolf itself has one brown eye for me and one green eye for my mom because when I was a kid, my mom told me we were descendants of German wolves. I totally believed her and I went to school and told everyone in my class that I was a werewolf and had a tail and all this stuff. Now, though, it’s more of a symbol, a spirit animal, of what you feel inside and how I see myself. I totally like the image of being a wolf and part of being a pack, especially with hockey. On the inside of my arm, it says “Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are,” which is a quote from Niccolò Machiavelli's Prince, and that ties the whole concept together of [the half-sleeve], especially with how the wolf is hidden within my arm a bit. If you look close enough, you can see what's within, but not everyone is going to see it that way.
I can see why that one is your favorite! What was your first tattoo?
My first tattoo is on my shoulder. It's a bird in a cage, and it's actually an image I took from a book of Andy Warhol's art because of the Pittsburgh connection, but I changed above [the piece]. On his image, it says “Merry Christmas,” but I changed it to “così è la vita” which is Italian for “such is life.” I was 17 when I got that. It was kind of a rash decision, but I had this idea that I wanted to get a tattoo before I was 18 and I made it happen.
You also have a Buffalo Beauts tattoo?
Bri [Brianne McLaughlin] , Kelley [Steadman], and I were all hanging out one night, and I was like “Guys, if you want to do this, my tattoo artist will do it - let’s go for it.” Kelley bailed on us, but Bri was like “Yeah, let’s do it!” She's never even had a tattoo before! We both got the Buffalo Beauts’ crown. Mine is on my ankle and is pretty big, but Bri got hers on the inside of her foot and it's small and cute. Someone on the internet came up with the hashtag of #ChampStamp which we thought was hilarious.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get their first tattoo?
I would say to really put some thought into it. Make sure it's something you can live with for the rest of your life, which is of course what everyone tells you. Also, be prepared for people to ask questions about it and have some semblance of an answer to give. People are always like, “Oh, what's the meaning behind that?” I feel like that puts a lot of weight on it, but it really doesn't have to be quite that serious. As long as it's important to you, that's all that really matters. Who cares if someone else thinks it's dumb? If it's meaningful to you, then that's the purpose of it. It's an expression of yourself, and if other people don't get that, that's their problem.