Written by Kennedy Harvey, Sports Information Assistant
Photo by Valerie Wutti
Nicole Allison of the Carleton Ravens women’s hockey team has had a huge impact since joining the team last season, however, playing hockey at the University level was not always her plan.
The Pointe-Claire, Quebec native started out playing ringette as a child. Through the game, she learned how to skate, but quickly outgrew it.
“It wasn’t aggressive, it wasn’t fast paced, so I switched over to hockey,” she said.
Her dad, a huge hockey fan, strongly encouraged this switch, and has encouraged her to play ever since. She is the only one of three kids still playing hockey.
Allison spent her childhood and through to her teenage years playing hockey – she played on a boys team, a travelling team, and played for her city before applying to John Abbott College.
Originally, the plan was for Allison to attend John Abbott College to play flag football, but the hockey team was in need of a player, the coach approached her, and she happily filled the spot on the team.
“I was playing two sports at once, my schedule was super hectic, I had no time to do anything,” said Allison, who continued to live this lifestyle for three years before applying to Carleton.
Again, Allison was unsure about continuing her hockey career into university. Her main focus was her degree in criminology and criminal justice, but the May hockey camp at Carleton drew her attention.
“I got in contact with [head coach] Pierre [Alain], we were emailing back and forth. He came out to see me a few times, and invited me to the May camp,” reflected Allison. She was the newest member of the team after camp.
Her first year with the Ravens did not go as planned. The team had trouble connecting both on and off the ice.
“[This season is] A lot better than last year for sure,” she said. “Last year the team did not click. This year it is more of a family. Everyone tells each other everything in the dressing room, everyone is super comfortable with each other, we are free to say whatever we want, and the recruits we got this year are amazing. It’s all meshing really well together. One of the best years I’ve had by far.”
While one part of her identity is as a Carleton Ravens hockey player, others know her by her social media handle, nallison_. Allison has, almost certainly, one of the largest social media followings of any other Carleton student-athlete. Although she has nearly nine thousand followers on Twitter, Allison’s preferred social media platform is Instagram, with 30.1K followers and counting.
“Whenever people ask me about it, they will ask how I got so many followers, and honestly, I don’t even know!” explained Allison. “I was in a relationship a while back and I guess [the following] kind of blew up.”
The attention she gained was not negative, rather, people saw Allison and her former partner as role models, especially individuals in the LGBTQ community.
“That is what made people follow us,” said Allison. “That is what started it all.”
Allison said that although her and the late girlfriend are no longer together, once a person has a certain number of followers and a well-known presence on social media, the audience just continues to grow.
In a society where people are constantly using social media as an outlet to measure popularity, Allison tries not to draw attention to her fame for fear of being mistaken as having a “huge ego.”
“It definitely affects the way people look at me,” said Allison. “I get judged instantly, by the book. There are people I don’t even know who look at me and think I’m a conceited person, and that I only care about myself, but that’s not at all who I am. If you actually take the time to get to know me, I’m super outgoing, super down to earth.”
During hockey games, opponents will often recognize her and make comments in reference to her social media. “I’ve been chirped a couple times about it and for it. A lot of people on other teams will be like ‘Oh that’s Nicole Allison’ and I’m like ‘I’m just normal’.”
Allison said that her followers do not have much of an affect other than that she wants to make sure the pictures she posts are appealing. She says that being a Carleton hockey player, and representing the school has more of an impact on the pictures she uploads on social media.
“I don’t want to post something that will go against our school rules or something like that,” she noted. It is important that she does not offend her school or team through her posts, because with such a large following it can easily come back to bite her.
All in all, Allison tries not to think too much about the many followers she has, “I don’t think it really changes anything, it just is what it is!”
Check out Nicole Allison and the women’s hockey team in action this week as the Ravens host the uOttawa Gee-Gees (January 19 – 7 p.m. – Bell Let’s Talk Night) and the McGill Martlets (January 22 – 3 p.m.) in two must-win games for Carleton.