Ex-Hab's daughter McPhee makes own way in sports

Ex-Hab's daughter McPhee makes own way in sports

Feb 07, 07 Track and Field (W)

By RANDY PHILLIPS, The Gazette

McPhee makes own way in sports
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Track & field star. Ex-Hab's daughter is multi-talented
By RANDY PHILLIPS
(reprinted from The Gazette)

Aly McPhee has obviously inherited some of her father's athletic ability, even though she never played hockey.

"I did learn to skate at a young age, but I never actually tried to play hockey," said the daughter of former Canadiens player Mike McPhee. "I think it would have been fun, though."

Instead, Aly, a first-year student at McGill, is making a name for herself in university track and field, competing in high jump, long jump, pole vault, shot put, 60-metre hurdles and 300- and 800-metre events.

The 18-year-old has won six gold medals and a silver in five meets this season, including three gold in high jump and one as the anchor of McGill's 4x200-metre relay team.

"I went through a lot of sports as a child, tried everything I could," said McPhee, who is studying management at McGill. "I enjoyed everything I tried, but track kinda stuck with me.

"There's just so much variety in track. I don't get bored because I do a lot of different events. It's also something that if you work hard at it, you will definitely improve."

Mike McPhee, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound forward from Sydney, N.S., spent nine seasons with the Canadiens, from 1983-92, scoring 142 goals and adding 162 assists in 581 regular-season games and earning a Stanley Cup ring in 1986.

Aly McPhee was born in Montreal, before her family moved back to the Maritimes. Home is St. Margaret's Bay, N.S., in a house overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It's a 30-minute drive to Halifax, where her father is now a financial planner with National Bank Financial.

Aly attended Sir John A. Macdonald High School, where her mother, Jane Anne, teaches art. Jane Anne holds university degrees from McGill and Mt. Allison. Aly's 19-year-old brother, Adam, plays hockey for the Bay Ducks, a new Junior B team in the Halifax area, and has nine goals and 10 assists in 26 games this season.

Aly only has vague memories of her father playing for the Canadiens and doesn't feel she experienced anything out of the ordinary because of it.

"Honestly, growing up as his daughter really wasn't anything different from any other child," she said. "It was all I knew, so for me, it was a normal childhood.

"I have a lot of happy memories and it didn't seem to make a difference that he was a member of the Montreal Canadiens, except for the occasional memory of being in the dressing room or watching games with my mom," Aly said.

"I have some memories of watching some games at the Montreal Forum, but I don't think we actually went to a lot of them. Most of the time my mom would stay home with me and my brother."

Aly credits her father and mother, who "runs a lot," as motivational forces behind her decision to start competing in track and field in Grade 8. She was eventually named MVP of her high-school track team, while earning a French-immersion certificate.

She competed for the Nova Scotia Track & Field Club and Sackville Chebucto Athletics Club and was a member of Team Nova Scotia for the 2005 Canada Summer Games and 2006 Canadian junior track-and-field championships.

McPhee had an impressive debut at McGill, clearing 1.55 metres to win gold in the high jump and another gold in the 300-metre run in the first meet of the season in November.

"McGill was one of my top choices," McPhee said of her decision to return to Montreal for university. "It kinda helped that I was born in Montreal, because it gave me Quebec tuition, but I also thought about Western and Queen's. McGill was the combination of a school with a really good reputation for academics and a really good track program."

McPhee spends more than three hours a day training, except on Sundays. She is gearing up for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport national track-and- field championships, to be held March 8 at McGill, where she plans to compete in the pentathlon - including the high jump, long jump, 60-metre hurdles, 800 metres and shot put.

"There's a lot of variation in what I do. That's why I like it," McPhee said. "I don't think I'd do well focusing on one event all the time. If I did, and things went badly, I think I would get very frustrated and go into a deep hole.

"I am pleased with my season so far, but I know I can definitely improve."

rphillips@thegazette.canwest.com

© The Gazette (Montreal) 2007