Avril Lavigne recalls life as a hockey star

Avril Lavigne was her hockey team's MVP two years in a row before hitting it big in music. Courtesy of RCA

This story originally appeared in the winter issue of ESPNHS Girl magazine. Click here to subscribe.

Long before she sang about “Sk8r Boi,” Avril Lavrigne was a skater girl.

The goal-oriented Canadian hit the ice not long after she learned to walk, and by age 10 she was playing in the boys’ hockey league in her small town of Napanee, Ontario. She went on to play for the girls’ hockey and baseball teams at Napanee District High School.

But at age 16, she hung up her skates after signing a recording contract, and by 17 she had broken onto the music scene with her debut album, “Let Go.” It sold 16 million copies and catapulted her to international stardom.

The 27-year-old pop-punk princess, who is scheduled for three shows over the next two weeks, took a break to tell us what happens when the gloves come off.

ESPNHS: What was it like growing up in a hotbed for ice hockey?

AVRIL LAVIGNE: My dad had me on ice skates in the backyard pond when I was 2 years old. Everyone plays hockey [where I’m from]. I grew up at the hockey arena because my older brother, Matthew (who’s now 28), played so I wanted to play. I would watch his games while wearing his jersey and cheering on the side with pompoms. Having him to look up to made me to want play sports.

ESPNHS: Did you play both ice and street hockey?

AL: I played ice hockey on a team; street hockey for fun. I did Novice, Atom, Pee Wee ice hockey. When I got to Pee Wee at age 10, I started playing with the boys. I [earned] MVP honors two years in a row as a right wing. In high school, I returned to girls’ ice hockey and started pitching for the girls’ baseball team. One year, we won a tournament and I got a purple trophy for my pitching. I still have it in my bedroom trunk.

ESPNHS: What was your fave ice hockey move back then?

AL: I worked on my wrist shot and slap shot a lot. One time I had a breakaway in a game and scored. My dad caught it on tape. That was probably my big shining moment. I also remember getting into fights with the goalies and hearing cheers from the moms [in the stands] because I was the only girl. Whenever I’d get punched by a guy, I’d always punch back. The gloves came off!

ESPNHS: Most embarrassing moment on the ice?

AL: You know at the end of a game when you line up and say “good game” [to the opposing players]? When I was 10, a girl on the other team pushed me because I was the only girl on my team. I fell because I was on my skates and didn’t expect it. Later, I waited for her outside her dressing room to talk. We made up.

ESPNHS: Do you still play?

AL: On tour, I bring my Rollerblades to play street hockey — usually with my brother. People in Los Angeles aren’t as into hockey, but they surf and skateboard. I was big into skateboarding when I was in high school; I did all the tricks and stuff. Now I just ride. I can’t afford to break my leg.

ESPNHS: Where do you surf?

AL: Australia, the Bahamas, Hawaii. There’s actually a video of me surfing in Australia. YouTube it: “Avril Surfing in Australia at Manly Beach.”

ESPNHS: Would you ever do a show on Rollerblades?

AL: People have brought it up, but I prefer to do cartwheels on stage.