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Rink Ink: Q&A with Madison Packer

Madison Packer of the Metropolitan Riveters tells the story behind her tattoos.

Madison Packer of the Metropolitan Riveters waits her turn during warm-ups.
Al Saniuk

The Ice Garden continues our 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. This time, we caught up with Madison Packer, leading scorer of the Metropolitan Riveters.

How many tattoos do you have, and what are they?

I have 12 tattoos. I’ve got a quote on my hipbones, on each side, a thin line. I have a phrase, going down my right side. I have a date in ribbons on my left side. I’ve got some arrows on my right forearm, and the coordinates of my family’s lake house on my right bicep. Then I’ve got a moustache finger tattoo. [I also have] an equals sign where my thumb and my wrist connect, and then I’ve a quarter sleeve with the tree line of my family’s lake house [with a word] in Latin. I used to have a word on my forearm that got covered up [into a cloud] when I did the quarter-sleeve.

Packer stylishly sports her moustache tattoo.

Which ones are your favorites, and what is the meaning behind them?

My favorites are the coordinates, on my bicep, of my family’s lake house, which we’ve had since I was a little baby. It’s a place that we go every summer. We went there growing up, and now my whole family goes back. All the kids go back 2 or 3 times during the summer. and it’s just kind of our spot. My mom has the same coordinates on a pendant that my dad got her for her birthday a while ago. [Another favorite are the] little ribbons on the sides from a friend of mine that passed away when I was in high school.

Packer’s quarter-sleeve depicts the tree line of her family’s lake house.

The quarter-sleeve on my left wrist and forearm is probably the coolest looking tattoo. It’s got a little phrase in Latin, and the tree line shaded down on to my wrist from the same lake house. Then it goes into, a little equality sign where my thumb and my wrist connect. That was actually a stick-and-poke tattoo that I let Anya [Battaglino] do to me in our living room.

What?! That’s awesome! How did that go?

I didn’t know you could do that. It’s a sewing needle, and you wrap thread around it. Then, you use Indian ink, or something like that, and you just… poke it. She has one too, but it’s a heart, not an equals sign.

It actually hurts way less than a normal tattoo because a normal tattoo does the same thing, but it’s like a ton of [needles]. I wouldn’t be able to do a stick-and-poke if it was a big tattoo someplace, but this is so small — it’s just like two little thick lines. It hurt way less than any other tattoo because it’s really quick. It’s one poke as opposed to the big needles digging in, and it’s 20 of them at the same time.

If you don’t mind explaining, what’s the Latin phrase on your quarter-sleeve?

It’s “a fortiori,” and the last ‘i’ is a semicolon.

Packer’s “a fortiori” tattoo features Project Semicolon.

The quote is something that I like. I don’t really tell people what tattoos mean. Everything on my body is in Latin, and I don’t really tell people what they mean because they’re for me. When I was in high school, a friend of mine committed suicide, and I became super involved with a non-profit for suicide awareness and prevention. The date and the ribbons that I have on my side, that’s what [they’re for].

When I was in college, similarly I struggled when I was done playing hockey with depression, not really knowing what I was going to do next, and really went through a tough time. I started working for Project Semicolon, which is a non-profit that does very similar work. They bring awareness to mental health and I became really involved with them and am now on their Board of Directors. I wanted to get a tattoo that meant something to me. The Semicolon movement is a pretty big thing — you’ll see a lot of people with it, and it’s an unspoken truth.

What advice would you give someone who’s looking to get a tattoo, or maybe their first tattoo?

Be 100% sure before you do it. I have a tattoo covered up. I have a couple of younger cousins who want to get tattoos, so it’s hypocritical of me to say don’t do it, because I think that they’re super cool.

When I first got my tattoos, my dad was livid. My dad’s a very conservative, conventional guy, and I was young. [I thought], you know, whatever, it’s my body, I’ll do what I want. I can understand his reasoning behind it; it’s a different look.

Now, I’m an athlete, and it’s cool to have tattoos on my body. It’s my form of art. Maybe in fifty years I won’t feel the same way, but I like tattoos. I feel like you either understand it, or you don’t. It’s a creative way for people to be expressive with their own bodies. You see a lot more tattoos now than you used to because [for] our generation, and a little above and below us, it’s a thing.

I think it’s a super cool way to be creative with yourself, and if you don’t want to tell people what they mean, it’s your story. It’s a personal thing for you where you like waking up in the morning and having this story with your body as the board. It’s a unique way to represent yourself.