Boston Pride defender Mallory Souliotis, who is headed into her third season in the NWHL, first met Julia, a local youth hockey player with epilepsy, during the summer of 2019.
Julia’s mom reached out in Souliotis with an invitation to the Slap Out Epilepsy hockey clinic at Phillips Andover.
“Last summer which seems like an eternity ago, so non-pandemic summer, the mom of a local hockey playing girl reached out to me and was wondering if I would be interested in attending,” she said.
“There were a bunch of local NHL players - the girl, Julia, her older cousin is [New York Rangers forward] Chris Krieder. I was just blown away by how positive and fun [it was]. Julia showed [so much] just during this event. She loves hockey and loves playing hockey with her friends and hanging out with them. She obviously has epilepsy so seeing that positivity from her and that determination really inspired me to not only live my life like her but also to recognize how lucky I am to hopefully bring awareness.”
After attending, Soulitotis instantly knew she wanted to do more. So, for the 2019-20 season, she decided to donate her jersey and shirsey proceeds to the Epilepsy Foundation New England.
She’s back at it for the 2020-21 season too, donating her proceeds, matching donations, and aiming to raise $2,600. In an Instagram video, she says she picked that number to represent the 1 in 26 people who will be diagnosed with epilepsy during their lives.
“I’m trying to think of something to do with mine, kind of Venmo-wise, similar to what Sammy has done for her swimming/polar plunging thing,” she said, of new teammate Sammy Davis, who is donating her jersey sales this year to the Travis Roy Foundation. “So that people know they don’t necessarily have to buy a jersey, because that only gets a couple of dollars if you add towards it so I’m trying to spitball ideas. If any of you guys have any good ideas, let me know, I think if you guys come up with it, it will be hilarious.” Souliotis directed this message towards fans and our staff alike.
The money raised is just a bonus to the awareness and memories made with the Slap Out Epilepsy hockey clinic, according to Souliotis. The clinic is focused on benefitting the mission of the Young Leaders Network, and providing support, advocacy, and outreach to youth affected by epilepsy.
During the pandemic, she still went to visit Julia, dropping off gifts before a procedure and making sure her donation check made it to the foundation. “It was just to be there to spread a little bit of positivity,” she said.
Julia is an incredibly strong and positive girl that continues to inspire me through her fight with Epilepsy. Her battle has had ups and downs and has impacted her ability to play hockey.— Mallory Souliotis (@yourpalMAL9) December 2, 2020
She is why I’ll be matching and donating all jersey/shirsey sales this season pic.twitter.com/BXLmln2ILC
Bringing awareness and raising money for certain causes is not something new to Souliotis in her professional career either. During her time at Yale, she was part of multiple organizations that helped those in need.
“It’s just about using my platform to make someone’s life better. In high school I went to prep school and part of the motto was ‘leadership for the public good’ so that’s something I’ve tried to incorporate into my life in different aspects whether it’s Be the Match and the Mandi Schwartz Foundation. I was heavily involved with that group at Yale, and I’ve worked with Bray [Ketchum Peel] to put on some NWHL events with her like we did last year and the year before so stuff like that has been really awesome because I think if I can leave a positive mark somewhere to make someone’s life better or to make someone smile, that’s good enough for me,” Souliotis said.
While Souliotis has been doing this for years, the concept of using the NWHL platform for a good cause isn’t unique to her or the handful of her Pride teammates doing something this year. Over the course of five seasons we’ve seen NWHL players raise money for students’ learning materials, suicide prevention causes, cancer research, and many more causes. In a job that is often a nights and weekends thing for these players while they can only currently make at most a $15,000 salary from it, it may be hard for some to understand why they extend a hand even further to those in need.
“I think it’s the idea that we’re not just athletes, we’re not just our full time jobs, we like to be a part of the community and that’s the biggest thing when you look at the NWHL and the NHL, it’s that we’re so heavily involved in the community, whether that’s running clinics or doing different theme nights or getting involved with us like the Boston public schools,” Souliotis said.
“I know other teams have done things like Shannon Doyle has done #BlocksForBooks, just to be involved in those sort of things but I know that in the NHL, they are also involved, take PK Subban for instance, he donates so much money back to Montreal Children’s Hospital and stuff like that. I think it’s for us, and for the NHL guys, it’s not about the money, it’s about bringing awareness and giving back to a community that’s giving you so much and supports you day in and day out.”
She even supported her teammate’s cause by joining Sammy Davis for a 10-second swim in the ocean on a December day and donating $50 to the Travis Roy Foundation as well as helping Davis learn the logistics of donating your merchandise profits through the league.
“It makes me feel a little bit better if I’m about to give back and make someone else’s day but it definitely does give some good visibility for us as a league when you have me, and Sammy, and other players doing certain fundraising types of things,” she said.
“It’s so much bigger than hockey and I’m so grateful that we get to use our platforms for good, and we get to show people what’s important to us,” Davis added. “Even if you can’t donate, I think donating your time is so much more valuable than donating your money, that’s just a bonus part. I think raising awareness is just so great so if you want to jump in the water one day, that’s amazing to me. Like, retweet, whatever it is. Ultimately I just want people to laugh and smile.”
Souliotis, Davis, and the rest of their team are gearing up for a two-week season in a bubble format where they will play their games at the famous Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, and the buzzword about how everyone is feeling among players seems to be ‘goosebumps.’
“The season is going to happen and for it to happen in Lake Placid is pretty, pretty awesome. I think it’s an iconic place where so much hockey history took place and I think I speak for a lot of hockey fans and hockey players, when I say that if you watch Miracle and you don’t get goosebumps, when they win and they show the real clips, I think there’s something wrong with you,” Souliotis said. “I still get goosebumps and I’ve seen it multiple times so I think I’m going to get some goosebumps when we first step on the ice there. It’s going to be an incredibly intense, fun, and awesome experience and it’s going to be great for the league and for women’s hockey in general.”
The Boston Pride who only lost one game last season were projected to win the Isobel Cup before the championship game was cancelled as it was scheduled right as COVID-19 began spreading in the United States back in March. Needless to say, that has made the returning players for the Pride that much hungrier to succeed in Lake Placid.
“It’ll be a long time since our last game so I think as a team we’re really looking forward to actually getting on the ice and competing against someone that isn’t us so I think it’s a long time but we’ll be ready when the time comes.”