During her first week at St. Thomas University, Anisha Romany was upstairs in the kitchen at Vanier Hall when she met Emily Oleksuk and Paige Jackson, two players on the Tommies women’s hockey team.
Oleksuk and Jackson were making Kraft Dinner, which was completely new to Romany. The hockey girls were shocked by this, but Romany said she didn’t have it back home in Trinidad and Tobago, a dual-island Carribean nation near Venezuela.
“I even put cheese on [the Kraft Dinner], like real cheese, and it gets all stringy,” said Romany, a second-year Spanish and Fine Arts student. “I do enjoy Kraft Dinner.”
From there, the conversation somehow changed to hockey, another “Canadian favourite” with which Romany was largely unfamiliar. Besides what she had seen about it in movies, she didn’t know much about hockey.
“I remember they [Oleksuk and Jackson] invited me to their next game,” she said. “I said I’d love to come.
“I’d never had any exposure to hockey or winter sports as a whole. I’d never even been in a rink.”
Romany figured out the city bus schedule and went to her first hockey game that fall. She ended up enjoying it.
In that first game, Anisha Romany came to appreciate one of Canada’s national pastimes. Romany said having someone to cheer for made it easier to learn about hockey. She’s now one of the Tommies’ biggest supporters.
She began meeting the players, one by one, and became friends with them. After receiving her own jersey and jacket from the team, she said she feels like part of the family.
Romany said she almost cried when she got the jersey because it meant so much to her. She loves being part of the Tommies’ close-knit group.
“It really made me feel very welcomed coming from my country that doesn’t have hockey to being acknowledged by this group that [considers] this is their life pretty much.”
Romany goes to every home game and live-streams all the road games on her phone or computer. She likes how fast-paced hockey is where everything is constantly moving and there’s always something to see.
Romany is also a big fan of the STU women’s rugby team. After initially being exposed to the sport and playing for a bit in high school, she decided to try out for the Tommies in her second year.
Although she didn’t make the team, Romany made a point to attend as many home games as possible.
Not only has Romany developed an appreciation for hockey and rugby, but she competes in the weight throw and shot put events on the Tommies track and field squad.
She said she loves how it’s never you versus another person in track because everyone is at a different level.
“Some people are neck and neck, and that makes things interesting in competition,” said Romany. “But in the end, it’s about you as an individual and getting stronger.
“Anytime you step into the circle, it’s about you versus yourself and about besting yourself. One of my favourite things is actually being able to push myself and get stronger.”
Upon coming to Canada, Romany experienced culture shock, with so many differences between home and her new country. She said being involved has helped her adjust to Canadian and North American culture. Being involved with things like Vanier Hall house committee, the campus ministry and STU Cares has helped Romany interact with other Canadians.
But she did find the winters here were a bit harder to adjust to.
“You kind of get tired of snow really quickly, but I always marvel at the beauty,” said Romany. “Windchill is not that great, but we learn to live with stuff”