Sydney Melindy: A Model of Determination
When she was in early grade school, Sydney Melindy saw her older sister, Charlotte, playing hockey. “It looked like fun, so I decided I wanted to try it, too.”
She got into a house league with the Whitby Girls Hockey Association. She and the other players took turns at being the goalie.
“When I put on the goalie pads, they were so heavy, I couldn’t stand up.”
Goalie pads are heavy for anyone, but they were especially so for Sydney because of physical challenges. She has a growth disorder and, as a result, is eight inches shorter than her twin sister, Leah. She has needed speech, physio and occupational therapy. Her muscles were slow to develop, she never learned to crawl as a baby and walked later than others. She would develop a pituitary disorder, scoliosis – curvature of the spine – and require reconstructive jaw surgery.
But goaltending became her passion. “Not being able to stand up and do what I wanted to do made me work harder. I was determined.”
Determination is something you hear a lot when talking with Sydney.
“I’ve had to be determined. There has always been so much do deal with, all kinds of medical appointments and surgeries. But I saw my sisters doing sports and other things and I wanted to live my life and do those things. So my physio appointments are hard, but the benefit is that physio builds my strength.”
She also hit the gym and got into running. “I was in cross-country at school and I always came in last. But I didn’t care. I knew it was good for building my strength and I needed that for hockey.”
Building up those muscles got her onto the Whitby Wolves in the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association. She loved playing, but it went deeper than just sport.
“It became a family thing. My sisters and I all played and my dad was my goalie coach. And my teammates became like a second family. They have always been so supportive. When I would be coming back from a surgery, they’d be encouraging as I got back on the ice. When I got a brace for scoliosis, they were just practical about it and helped me adapt to playing with the brace.”
She stuck with hockey and in 2022 achieved one of her life’s goals – her team won five gold medals, including a provincial championship.
And while all the medical treatment was arduous, it also inspired Sydney’s career choice.
“During my times at The Hospital for Sick Children, I met nurse practitioners in many departments. It was a nurse practitioner who identified that I had scoliosis. One of my aunts in Newfoundland is a nurse. Just before my jaw surgery, a nurse practitioner told me she had the same surgery when she was younger and that’s when I decided, ‘This is the job for me.’”
She’s making a formal start on building that career this fall when she will begin the nursing program at the University of Ottawa.
Sydney will be forging ahead with thanks to her family – parents, Elizabeth McCarty and Jason Melindy, and her sisters and with inspiration from her two key mentors. One is her grandmother, Maud McCarty, who recovered her lost ability to write and read when she had two strokes. The other is Montreal Canadiens’ superstar goalie, Carey Price. Aside from being wowed by his goaltending skills, Sydney has been moved by how Price has come back from a host of injuries and a struggle with substance abuse.
When she looks way into the future, she wants to see herself doing three things.
“I want to be a nurse, living by the ocean, because I love the water, and involved in youth hockey leagues, so I can give back to the sport that gave me so much.”
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