Since leaving St. Lawrence in 2008 as one of the women’s hockey program’s all-time leading scorers, Chelsea Grills (B. Sc. ’07, M. Ed. ’08) has gone on to coach at a number of solid programs.
“What drew me to St. Lawrence was how close of a family it was on campus,” reflected Grills, who tallied 70 goals and 99 assists over her 139-game career as a Saint. “I’m still really good friends with a lot of my former teammates, and I think that’s special.
“Going back for (former SLU head coach) Paul Flanagan’s Legends of Appleton weekend, so many people came back for that, it was just like old times,” continued Grills, who now works as a full-time assistant coach at the University of Ottawa. “I cherish that, those memories. The coaching staff, the environment St. Lawrence provided for its student-athletes, you thrived off it.”
Grills — whose 169 career points rank her third in program history — is surrounded on St. Lawrence’s all-time scoring list by former teammates.
Her freshman season saw the 5-foot-6 forward debut on a line with Gina Kingsbury ’04 and Rebecca Russell ’05; second and fourth respectively on the all-time Saints scoring list. Both have since moved into coaching.
“I learned so much from them my freshman year, (and) they helped me develop myself not just on-ice, but off-ice (and) coaching, because they coached later on,” remembered Grills. “Especially Gina with Hockey Canada now, she’s an inspiration for women’s hockey.”
Rounding out the top five in program scoring?Sabrina Harbec ’08, whose ridiculous 219 points stand alone atop the list, and Carson Duggan ’09 — both also Grills linemates.
“Moving forward (and) playing with Sabrina and Carson, there were so many dynamic lines I played on,” said the Stittsville, Ontario native. “We’re all still really close now, and I think that’s pretty special.”
Since St. Lawrence, her coaching pathway has taken her to Amherst College, Vermont, McGill and now uOttawa.
Two of those stops — Division III Amherst and McGill up in Canada — have included national championships.
In her current role in Canada’s capital, she handles recruiting, video analysis, pre-game scout and skill sessions.
“It’s pretty cool how many St. Lawrence alumni are still involved in the game,” said Grills, who still has regular conversations with the current Saints women’s hockey staff. “There’s always someone you know, (and) the staff at St. Lawrence has been such a positive influence on my coaching career.”
Seeing a familiar face from Canton can make those long recruiting trips in the dark of winter a little friendlier.
“I can pick up a phone and have a conversation with them on anything, they’re such great friends,” continued Grills. “Wellsy has been an incredible influence on me, while Boomer (Ted Wisner) and I talk on a regular basis. Same with Mare (MacDougall Bari), we’ve become friends.
“I’m so glad St. Lawrence brought us together.”