By: Celia Bildfell (Photos by Marc Lafleur & Cec Lopez)
Women's hockey forward Cecilia Lopez is no stranger to performing. While Lopez is quickly making a name for herself in the RSEQ, Lopez has taken a unique path to Carleton, one that's taking her hockey and music careers from Winnipeg to Spain with a stop in New Hampshire.
Before joining the Ravens, Lopez was playing in San Sebastián for CHH. Necso Txuri Urdin in the Spanish National women’s Ice Hockey League.
Lopez grew up and played hockey in Winnipeg, Manitoba. While in high school Lopez was recruited by various schools to play hockey in the United States, among these offers was Dartmouth. “I thought it was an amazing opportunity. I didn't even visit, last minute, I decided to go to Dartmouth.”
In 2016, Lopez began her freshman year at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, United States. Lopez majored in Women's Gender and Sexuality studies modified with English and a concentration in creative writing. Lopez played on their women’s hockey team for the first two years of her undergraduate degree. Whether Dartmouth was part of her original plan, “I'm really glad it worked out that way. I think a lot of things work out as they should,” states Lopez.
With any transition, starting an undergrad and joining a varsity hockey team can be difficult, especially in a new country. However, Dartmouth offered resources which made balancing her various responsibilities a little easier, “Athletes got free tutoring. So, I took advantage of that when I was there. I also did extracurriculars. I think it's really important to have work-life balance because they fuel each other.”
When returning to university sports after taking a brief hiatus between her early years of her undergrad and her first year of her graduate degree, Lopez has been able to alter the way she approaches playing hockey at a varsity level.
“I've already been through the whole university thing. I'm approaching it with a really different lens. I don't take it as seriously in a sense of like life and death, I'm going to be hard on myself that kind of thing. I am approaching it with a lot more of an 'I'm going to enjoy myself work hard and be the best teammate that I can be' lens.”
The difference in the program has also eased Lopez’s return to university sports. Lopez is in her first year of Carleton’s Master of Music and Culture program where she is currently studying queer theory mixed with musicology. Lopez has been able to juggle her commitment to the Ravens Women’s Hockey team along with her master’s program. “You’re more specialized in your masters so you're more passionate about what you're studying, as well as hockey has been a lot more flexible and supportive in allowing us to do what we need to do academically here, which I really appreciate.”
Lopez joined Spain’s National Women’s Ice Hockey League in 2020, after graduating from Dartmouth. “I thought I was done with hockey, I thought it was retired. And the summer after my, after my sophomore year, I got an email from this American Scout who helped with my recruitment to Dartmouth. And he had just become named the head coach of the Spanish women's national team for hockey. He emailed me and asked if I had any Spanish blood.”
Lopez’s father is Spanish, so she let the scout know and he said, “Okay, let's get to working on your citizenship.” Similarly, to her move to Dartmouth, it was a matter of things working out and perfect timing. During the final months of Lopez’s undergrad, she was unsure of what her future would hold, then “the pandemic hit, and I thought you know what, I might as well just go I don't know what's going to happen. I played there for two seasons and met some amazing people, it was an amazing life experience.” Lopez is currently waiting for the final steps of her Spanish citizenship to be approved, she plans to play with the Spanish national team at Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship in Mexico City this April.
Lopez is a producer, songwriter and singer herself. She recently released a song titled “Noa” on January 13th, 2023. Lopez wrote Noa and worked with Adam Fuhr, a producer from Winnipeg. However, she is an independent artist and has produced all of her own other work which can be found on all streaming platforms. Lopez uses the name Cec Lopez when producing and distributing her songs.
With promising career prospects in both international hockey and music, Lopez has many opportunities and paths available to her once she completes her master’s degree at Carleton. Currently, Lopez doesn’t have any cemented plans for her future.
“For me, I think if you're passionate about something, and work hard, you'll usually have the energy to do what you want to do. And I have no idea what that will look like for me in the future. But as far as professions and jobs go a lot of things are always developing anyway. And the job that I could have in the future maybe doesn't even exist right now. So I don't think I'm set on anything for the future I think is just I'm going to keep pursuing my passions and working towards that.”
Lopez and the Ravens host uOttawa in the 2023 Colonel By Classic on Sunday, January 22, 2023, which will be held at TD Place. “I'm looking forward to playing at TD Place I think it's super exciting. I know, the whole team is really excited about it. I have some classmates and some professors coming, which is really heartwarming. So I'm excited to perform,” says Lopez.