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History maker: Sophie Jaques is the 2022 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Researcher of the Year

Sophie JacquesSpring brought a wave of excitement for ice hockey defenseman Sophie Jaques, who, along with her teammates, celebrated the first-ever NCAA women’s ice hockey championship for Ohio State University.

“It shows the growth of our program over the past two years,” says Jaques, the 2022 Arthur Ashe Jr. Female Sports Scholar. “It was a great accomplishment for us, and we were so excited to have won .”

Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Jaques got into hockey when her parents were looking for something to do in the winter. After participating in a learn-to-skate and hockey program, she fell in love with the sport. She says she knew she wanted to play intercollegiate ice hockey in the United States and found a lot to love about Ohio State.

“Seeing all the pride in the school is something I’ve never experienced before,” says Jaques. “To get a great education, Ohio State was a great option for me.”

Nadine Muzerall, head coach of the Ohio State women’s ice hockey team, says Jaques was instrumental in the team’s success. “She’s what we call a 200-foot hockey player,” Muzerall says. “From one end of the ice [to the other] is 200 feet, and she can control all areas of the ice. Defensively, she’s disciplined, she has a strong work ethic, she’s smart and she sees the ice well. Offensively, she knows how to score and when to make quick decisions.

“As a leader, she is very humble,” continues Muzerall. “She is focused and committed to excellence. The team absolutely adores him.

Besides being an excellent hockey player, Jaques is determined to be an excellent student. Some of the honors she has earned include: WCHA All-Academic Team, WCHA Scholarly Athlete, OSU Scholarly Athlete, and All-Big Ten Academic. She stays on track through strong time management and focuses on academics when it’s time to study and sports when it’s time to train and compete. She also thanks the educational advisers and teachers, who have been respectful of her commitments and her determination to succeed.

“Our training block is in the afternoon, which allows me to do a lot of my school work before training,” explains Jaques.

Jacques will graduate this spring. She plans to take advantage of the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA to play again next year as she pursues a master’s degree.

“There are very few people on a team that you can build your program around who will be critical to your team’s success,” says Muzerall. “Sophie elevates the game.”

Jaques’ major is civil engineering, and she will be pursuing a master’s degree in transportation engineering, hoping to pursue a career in transportation. After completing an engineering internship, she worked as a research assistant and teaching assistant and obtained a two-year scholarship program to cover the cost of her master’s studies.

Jaques is currently Co-Vice President of SHEROS, a BIPOC women-focused registered student-athlete organization within Buckeye Athletics. As a board member, she worked to create a welcoming space and a sense of community for female student-athletes of color at PWI. This is especially meaningful for her as the only black player on her team.

“We were able to organize social events, get-togethers and discussions which I think really helped,” says Jaques. “Knowing that we are not alone. …We are such a small population, but it’s great to connect with a group of girls who are going through the same thing…and to hear their perspectives.

Alex Sommer, academic advisor and student-athlete engagement coordinator at Ohio State, says Jaques is so driven that she needs minimal help with her studies. “She’s very proactive in planning her schedule,” says Sommer, who has previously helped Jaques with her fall 2022 schedule to ensure there are no conflicts with training or competition.

For Sommer, Jaques’ work with SHEROS stands out for its impact. “I got to watch her become a leader, not just for her team, but for women of color in the athletic department,” Sommer says.

Jaques has also been active in community outreach, taking time to volunteer with the 2nd & 7 Foundation, which promotes reading by providing free books and positive role models to children in need. When little girls of color come to hockey games and she takes the time to talk to them and make them understand that hockey is for anyone who wants to play. Muzerall says Jaques is committed to making an impact.

“I tried to lead by example,” says Jaques. “Give my best and work my best in everything I’ve done to get where I am and hopefully show them that if they try their best they can achieve their goals.”

This article originally appeared in the April 28, 2022 edition of Various.