If there's one thing to know about defender Jessica Healey, it's this: she can make the best of any situation. On the ice, she's a born leader and gritty playmaker; off of it, she's eager to embrace her surroundings. She did so during her season as a member of the PHF's Buffalo Beauts and, now, as a newly signed player on PWHL Boston's inaugural roster.
I got to spend a bit of time with Healey between scrimmages in Utica, NY, where she and the Boston squad took part in final evaluations ahead of puck drop in January. Check out her thoughts on her new team, the city of Boston, and more.
[Author's Note: This interview has been transcribed, and parts have been edited for length and content.]
AR: I've caught some stuff on your Instagram lately, and it looks like you're really enjoying Boston. How's it been to kind of ingratiate yourself with the team and the city?
JH: Yeah, it's been amazing. I mean, first of all, the city is unreal. There's so much to see and do, and there's so much history there, and it's just a great sports town in general. So yeah, and then again with the team — everyone's been so awesome and welcoming, and just to play with these players, some of the best in the world, it's just been amazing so far. I'm just kind of taking it all in and going day by day but having a great time, so nothing to complain about.
AR: With it being a brand-new group, does it kind of feel almost like your rookie year all over again, trying to get into the swing of things?
JH: (laughs) Yeah, totally. Like it's a whole new league. So I think everybody maybe has that feeling. Obviously there's a ton of seasoned players on our team and in the league, but yeah, like for it being the first year and, you know, first [PWHL] team in Boston and everything like that, it does feel like a bit of a rookie year — different schedule, different coaches — but it's fun.
AR: With that said, after your first couple of games here, how do you feel like you guys are starting to come together, and what do you think you still need to work on?
JH: Yeah, I mean, obviously, two losses, it's not what we want. But I think there's a lot to learn from, from our play, and we're doing lots of video and, you know, we're taking the positives, taking what we need to improve on. It's still preseason, you know, we have a lot of work to do. Our goal is to just get better each game, and we've got girls in out of the lineups, so there's still a lot of moving parts. But you know, I think we're just having fun playing games.
AR: How's it been playing with a D partner that's not Dominique Kremer?
JH: Yeah, it's obviously a bit different switching it up. [laughs] But, I mean, my first game in I got to play with Megan Keller. She's around my age, but she's someone I've looked up to, a seasoned player, an Olympian, so to be out there with her is a pretty cool feeling knowing I got a player like that as my D partner. It gives me confidence to be on the bench [and] in the locker room with her — and not just her, like, you know, Knighter [Hilary Knight] and all the other Olympians. Like, it's just so cool to learn from them; they're just leaders, right? So it's really cool to be in that space with them and grow as players and as teammates.
AR: That was going to be my next question — you guys seem to have a high caliber of national team players. In your perspective, what's your identity as a team?
JH: We want to be hard to play against, relentless and physical, and we want to be the hardest-working team out there. I think all the experience that we have in that locker room, it's going to shine through, and the younger [players] or girls who haven't had that experience — we're gonna learn from them. And, you know, they're great role models to have. Playing with them, it definitely makes you better.
AR: Now, how do you see your role? You never had a letter on your chest with the Beauts, but you kind of played that way — very vocal, setting the tone for the blue line. How do you see your role changing with this new team?
JH: I think I'm going to continue to be myself out there and do what I can. As a person, I'm super vocal and positive and upbeat; and I bring that energy on the bench, in the locker room, on the ice; and I'm going to continue to do that. And then, you know, as for my honest game, I want to be strong defensively, keep them to the outside, make it easy on our goalies, and chip in offensively when I can. But you know, I'm just happy to be here, I'm happy with whatever role they put me in — it's still early in the season, so we'll see where I end up.