Skip to content

Local teen stickhandling her way to top of women’s hockey

At 15 years old, Sonia Mehta is the youngest player on her under-22 team and says she 'definitely' wants to play for Canada's national team some day

Some species of sharks never stop swimming.

While that may not be the official cheer of the Barrie Sharks, it may well be the internal mantra of their youngest defence player Sonia Mehta.

The Barrie Sharks serve as the Barrie’s Women’s Hockey Association's competitive teams with squads starting at under nine years old and continuing up to the under-22 team.

Mehta is an anomaly because she plays with the U22 team despite being 15 years old and a Grade 10 student at Georgian Bay District Secondary Student.

She could be playing with the under 18 team, but she is that good. Such is her love of hockey that Mehta finds herself in Barrie four or five times a week for practices with two to three games on the weekends all across Ontario.

“I wanted to play with the best,” says Mehta about why she chose to move her game to Barrie when she was just 12 years old.

Now, just three years later, she is playing at a very high level of hockey with her AA team.

Mehta has her sights set on playing with a Division 1 team when she moves on to an American university in a few years’ time. Division 1 schools are those designated to play at the most competitive level through the National Collegiate Athletic Association in the U.S.

With her eyes set on her goals, Mehta has the attitude to get her there. She applied to play in the Ontario Summer Games with the under-16 girls’ team.

Eight teams gathered for six games in a tournament. The 2022 games were held in Mississauga and involved all the athletes representing players of every sport from golf to baseball entered into Celebration Square like athletes do at the Olympics.

While Mehta says she knew some of the girls on her team, the other she met for the first time at the games. They practised together a few times before playing in the tournament, and her team placed second overall.

After winning silver with the junior girls’ hockey team at the Ontario Games, Mehta believes she could also play for Canada’s national team.

“I definitely want to play for the national team,” Mehta says very matter-of-factly.

“Playing with the Sharks could definitely get me there. The coaching staff here are really good, and could offer a lot of opportunities.”

Duane Eldridge is the current coach of the Barrie Sharks U22 team. His daughter, Jessie Eldridge, plays for the Professional Women’s Hockey League in New York, and broke a NCAA record for most goals scored in a single season with in the Colgate Raiders.

To say Mehta is in good hands learning from Coach Eldridge is an understatement. The team does dry land training and showcase camps in the summer.

“We get exposure that way. So scouts at the schools in the U.S. and Canada can see us play," Mehta says. “It was the right choice to move to Barrie, because of the amount of growth I’ve had with the coaches and the environment. It’s made me a better person and a better player.”

Mehta’s commitment to her sport is apparent in that she truly doesn’t stop moving.

“Outside of hockey, I try to always workout, shoot pucks and work on my stickhandling.”

In the fall, she plays flag football and basketball, in the winter volleyball and hockey and in the soccer and ultimate Frisbee.

“I play sports at school to keep up my athleticism and because it’s fun," she explains.

“I still have some down time, and I manage my time really well,” says Mehta saying that she maintains good marks because NCAA school want their players to be as strong academically as they are athletically.

Looking up to four-time Olympic women’s team competitor Hillary Knight, who won Gold in the 2018 Games for the United States and plays in the PWHL, Mehta’s focus is unshakable.

Sarah Filler, who won gold for team Canada in 2022, plays in the PWHL and did all of that while still in university, is someone who truly inspires Mehta.

“It’s incredible how far she’s come and she’s still in university," she says.

Mehta may only be in Grade 10, but she is certainly planning for a few years ahead, trying to see the way things will be coming her way like any defenceman.

“I would definitely say if you have passion always try to pursue it," she says. "You never know where it will take you.”


Verified reader

If you would like to apply to become a verified commenter, please fill out this form.