Morgan Stickey makes history on and off the ice

Credit: Ric Tapia
The only American-born female to ever be drafted by the WHL, Morgan Stickney is, at the end of the day, still just a teenager.

Morgan Stickney made history on May 11 by becoming the first American-born female to be drafted in the Western Hockey League Prospects Draft when she was selected in the tenth round, 215th overall, by the Portland Winterhawks. A goaltender who just finished her freshman year at Shattuck-St. Mary’s where she plays on the Girls U16 team, Stickney ended the season with a record of 23-4-3 with a .928 save percentage and a goals-against average of 1.52.

That’s a pretty impressive weight stack for a 15-year-old.

Now that it’s summer break, Stickney is at home with her family in Redondo Beach, but she trains on local ice whenever she can with friends and coaches. There is also a five-day summer workout plan that Stickney and her teammates from Shattuck-St. Mary’s adhere to on a weekly basis. While her rigorous schedule requires discipline, Stickney is largely self-motivated.

“Yeah, it’s mostly just me. [My parents] always just say ‘do what you want’ so they’re not going to pressure me to do anything because they know if they pressure me I don’t want to do it,” says Stickney, who idolized Team USA netminder, Alex Rigsby, growing up.

Being the youngest of five siblings, including three older brothers, likely comes with it’s own motivation. Stickney actually started playing hockey at the age of five when one of her older brothers asked her to play goalie for him. In her first week of organized hockey, Stickney missed the first hour of one of her games because she had the wrong stick, her pads were on backwards, and then she had to use the restroom. Morgan persevered though, and while her brother no longer plays hockey, it seems to have worked out well for her.

Hockey may be the reason she’s making headlines, but Stickney lives an otherwise typical teenage life.

A fan of Coldplay and YouTuber Jake Paul, Stickney’s favorite movies are “Monsters Inc” and  “Eddie the Eagle.” She’s a math and science girl and sees herself with a job in the engineering field one day. You could find her on a golf course with clubs in tow, or possibly on a beach when there’s down time. She loves to read biographies, and her favorite is “99 Stories of the Game” by Wayne Gretzky. Physical activity is what calms her down if she happens to be stressed, so if she’s having a bad day she’ll likely head to her garage to kick a soccer ball around. Soccer happens to be the sport Stickney chose to give up when she decided to play hockey at Shattuck.

One of Stickney’s big passions in life is giving back to her community. Rescuing dogs is almost a hobby to her, as she has four rescue chihuahuas at home, the most recent one joining the family the day before the interview for this story. And they might just keep on coming.

Credit: Ric Tapia

“All four of them we got from kill shelters,” Stickney explains. “The longest one we’ve had for like six years, but he’s probably 12 years old.”

Kirby, Percy, Winnie and Chico, all stay in Redondo Beach with her parents when Morgan is at school, but their acquisition was largely her undertaking.

“Kirby is actually funny,” recalls Morgan, whose mom, Tracy, supports her daughter’s dog rescue efforts. “After I was done with a tournament, we had time to kill before we went to my brother’s last game for his tournament. So we were thinking about getting another dog but it didn’t really cross our mind. I was like ‘Mom, there’s a shelter right down there,’ so we went and then we just got Kirby right then. All our dogs…we just showed up to the shelter and got them, we didn’t have to wait.”

Stickney also enjoys accompanying her church group to prepare food for the homeless, and she attributes her love of philanthropy to her mom.

“I feel like my mom’s always been kind of somebody that loves to help other people. So it kind of just passed down to me,” admits Stickney, who has plans to volunteer as a hockey camp counselor this summer at Toyota Sports Performance Center where she played for the Jr. Kings. “So I love to help anyone that I can.”

Morgan is hoping that her selection to the WHL helps people in a different way. She wants people to know that hockey is a sport for girls just as much as boys.

“There are so many women that I met when I was younger and they inspired me so much, like Blake Bolden, and we met a bunch of Olympians, too,” says Stickney, who played on boys’ teams while a member of the Jr. Kings. “I’m trying to grow the game…hockey, when you look at it right away, it’s not a woman’s sport as big as soccer, but it’s growing. You can play with the boys as long as you work hard.”

Stickney helped the Jr.Kings earn a top-five rank nationally each of the four years she played, including a number one ranking for the 2020-21 campaign. She’s won 37 tournaments since 2017, and was selected to CCM Girls 68, as one of the top 68 female players in the United States.

It all led up to the moment Stickney got the call to let her know she had been drafted by the Winterhawks. She was in her dorm room at Shattuck, with her friends, when the phone rang.

“It was such a cool experience, even still I can’t wait for training camp,” Stickney confesses. “Right after I got drafted I couldn’t believe it. All my friends were just as surprised as I was.”

Attending the Portland Winterhawks training camp at the end of August is something Stickney is looking forward to, even though she knows she won’t dress a game for the team. Morgan aspires to play college hockey somewhere and playing for the Winterhawks would negate her NCAA eligibility.

How does a 15-year-old react to the news that she just made American history?

“It’s so cool, but it doesn’t mean anything until I really prove it,” says Stickney, who wants to make it on the US Olympic Team one day.

It all makes sense. Stickney has a flag hanging in her dorm room with a quote on it that she tries to honor in every day life. The flag reads: “No one cares, work harder.”