If you Google “famous sports agents”, a list of 47 sports agents comes up, complete with their photos, as well as a long list of stories about most powerful or influential or highest-paid sports agents.
Something else you might notice – they’re all men.
Google “famous female sports agents” and there are no photos.
There’s a sprinkling of stories, and “are there female sports agents?” is the top query under the “Others want to know” field.
One young hockey player from South Surrey is determined to change that, by becoming a sports agent herself.
Madeline (Maddy) Rai, who started skating when she was only 18 months old, has been playing hockey in organized games since she was four.
The Semiahmoo student, who started Grade 12 this year, was scouted when she was only 14 years old, and has committed to Western University in Ontario after she graduates.
Having earned a scholarship to attend, the busy student must maintain a 90 per cent – or A – average in her studies, while she’ll also play on the university’s female hockey team.
Rai, taking a break after volunteer coaching some U13 girls on the ice, also plans to share her time with Hockey for Youth, a similar program based out of Ontario and Quebec.
She remembers she didn’t really like skating when she first started, many years ago.
But, as she kept it up, she eventually grew to embrace and love it.
“As I stuck with it, I knew hockey was the sport for me,” she said.
“It just brought me joy to be on the ice. I always looked forward to going to hockey, to being at the rink and all the experiences it brought me, with travel and friends.”
She’s had the opportunity to play at many rinks and to travel to such places as Boston, New York and Washington, D.C., and enjoys making lifelong friends and connections with the other athletes she’s met along the way.
When Rai first started playing hockey, she played more as a forward, but these days she plays defence, with her own unique style.
“I call myself more of an offensive defencemen,” she said, noting that she’s able to play both forward and D, if needed.
“I enjoy just getting on the ice and being able to focus on just hockey and not anything else that I have to worry about outside of the sport… it’s a way to clear my mind, on the ice.”
Although she spoke to American universities as well, the teen chose to stay in Canada to pursue both hockey and a career as a sports agent.
And if she wasn’t busy enough with her studies and hockey (she currently plays with the Pacific Steelers and practices five days a week), Rai also plays basketball with the senior Semiahmoo Thunderbirds squad, and volunteer coaches in that sport as well.
At Western, she plans to study business and, after that, attend law school for her planned career as a sports agent.
She wants to focus on empowering females in that regard, as she plans to represent female hockey players, as well as helping females become more involved in sports.
“After I finish my five years at Western, I want to stay in the sport and still be involved,” she said.
“Especially for female newcomers to Canada, and females new to hockey… (I want) to set an example for them, to see that they can do the same things I did,” Rai explained.
“I feel like it’s easier if they have another female in the sport that they can look up to.”
Rai’s father, Rob, noted he and Maddy looked up the statistics about girls involved in sports.
“One in three girls quits sports by the time they’re 14 or 15, and over 60 per cent of females don’t play sports at all,” he said.
“As a girl-dad, that’s sad. It’s (been) the best way for my daughter and I to bond and form a relationship… it has been through sports – we spend so much time travelling to and from rinks, and to and from different cities.”
It can be easy for youth to just be on their phones and online and socializing with only their friends, said Rob.
“Sports is such a great bonding agent within families. As parents, it’s been so great for Maddy’s mom and I to always have something to do as a family.”
It’s amazing to think that Maddy’s grandfather had never witnessed the game of hockey when he arrived in Canada in 1959, Rob noted, and now she will be playing at the university sport level, 65 years later.
“Maddy would like to see the female game grow for all Canadian girls, for all the positives sports can bring,” he said.
Maddy herself plans to “have a good five years” playing hockey at Western, starting next fall.
“Hopefully I can get Rookie of the Year my first year. That’s my next goal,” she said.
Like many athletes who favour rituals or “good luck” pieces of uniform or equipment, Maddy has a favourite pair of hockey pants, the base-layer pants worn under the exterior hard-shell pants.
“I’ve been wearing the same hockey pants since I was about seven years old,” she confessed.
“I feel like they just brought me good luck at every game… they’re all ripped up and they’re pretty old. My parents have been trying to make me get some new ones, but I wouldn’t choose.”
Rob noted he and her mother did make their objections, but have agreed to honour Maddy’s wishes.
“She says they bring her good luck, so we can’t argue with that.”