Since she was four years old, Delphine Léonard ’20, has been speeding around the ice on hockey skates. “My two brothers were playing and I just wanted to do everything they were doing,” she said.
A native of Quebec, she is the only French speaking student on SUNY Potsdam’s women’s hockey team — choosing to attend the College last year after head coach Jay Green recruited her during a scouting trip to Montreal.
“When Jay recruited me, he talked about how Potsdam is a small town and how we could see deer on campus,” Léonard recalled. After growing up in Montreal the idea of moving from a major metropolitan hub to a small rural town didn’t at first appeal to her, but after making the leap of faith, and deciding to attend SUNY Potsdam, it proved to be a very good decision.
“When I came here, I loved it! I think it’s fun how everyone knows each other and how the teams are really close to each other…When I came here I didn’t know anyone, but it was really easy to make friends,” she said.
After graduating from a Francophone high school in Montreal, she enrolled at Dawson College, a publicly funded, pre-university school in the heart of the city, where she spent three years playing ice hockey and majoring in child studies and psychology. She also continued to work on her English skills. “I learned how to write and read, but all my friends were speaking French, so I never spoke English,” Léonard said. “I really started speaking English when I came here last year.”
After joining the women’s hockey team last year, she made an immediate impact. She was named an all-rookie hockey defenseman where she competed in 26 games, scored three goals and tallied eight assists. Being able to make an impact on the ice, and being given a lot of playing time, was instrumental in her decision to attend SUNY Potsdam. “I’ve been really happy with the playing time that I get with Jay, because everybody plays here,” she said.
This year, she was also an integral part of the women’s soccer team. She had never thought about playing soccer in college, but after meeting with head coach Mark Misiak, he told her she could try out for the team as a walk on player. Not only did she make the team, but she ended up being one of the primary starting goalies during their record setting season this past fall. Under Misiak’s leadership, the women’s soccer team had its best season in SUNY Potsdam history, finishing with multiple records, including 12 overall wins, five conference wins and their first ever conference playoff berth.
From an academic standpoint, Léonard is undertaking a bachelor’s degree in psychology and she is one of a handful of students who was selected to join Dr. Claire Starrs’ research lab, the SUNY Stress & Coping Lab. Currently, the lab is examining coping strategies and depression in a sample of women diagnosed with breast cancer, using a pioneering technique for identifying in situ coping from clinical interviews. In addition, Léonard explains that Dr. Starrs’ “Abnormal Psychology” class has been her most impactful classroom experience so far: “We learned about depression and anorexia... it was really interesting,” Léonard said.
Whether she’s in the classroom, on the ice or on the soccer field, Léonard is making the most of her time at SUNY Potsdam. Léonard was the recipient of the SUNY Potsdam Freshman Scholarship, and has received the Academic Female Athlete of the Year award, on top of being named to the SUNYAC Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll. After graduating she plans on moving back to Quebec and possibly pursuing a master’s degree in psychology. In the meantime, she is embracing her Potsdam home and forming lifelong connections on campus.