By Johnston Hall

Photos courtesy Thunder Bay Queens

The late summer in the Paddington household was a very exciting time.  

A typical Canadian hockey household with three children all heavily involved in the sport, the Paddington Family has always preached the value of being a good person, a good student and enjoy the benefits of being a multi-sport athlete.  As such, while the winter is spent in the rink or on the backyard rink, much of the Paddington summer is currently spent at the Thunder Bay Tennis center or the soccer pitch.  Playing in various tournaments and enjoying the fabulous summer weather Thunder Bay has to offer, parents Carolyne and Dave are forever busy chauffeuring their three kids to any number of various sporting events.  

There is never a dull moment.  Her mother Carolyne (Bazaluk) was a former Lakehead University Basketball player, and father Dave, a wide receiver with the Thunder Bay Giants of the Manitoba Junior Football Conference, bring athleticism to their three children naturally.  Playing any and all sports, hockey and tennis have seemingly risen to the surface for the 2003 born Alexis.  That natural athleticism must have caught the eye of the Minnesota State Mavericks coaching staff who were not only supportive of the multi-sport athlete before them, but furthermore encouraged it.  This prompted Alexis to further the exploration of the hockey program, coaches and school and ultimately led to the Thunder Bay Queens 1styear MAA forward Alexis Paddington committing to play Division 1 hockey with the Minnesota State Mankato Mavericks.  

In a time where it seems the athlete becomes more and more specialized at a young age, Alexis and her brothers (EJ and Benny) are bucking the trend ‘specializing’ in multiple sports over the course of the year. Building their athleticism with the Lakehead Express Soccer Club, The Thunder Bay Tennis Center, Thunder Bay Kings AAA Hockey Club and Thunder Bay Queens Hockey Club as well as a multitude of school sports, the Paddington brothers, led by their older sister, are also finding great successes in their chosen sports.  Alexis will continue to pursue her dream of being a multi-sport athlete at the university level.  She indicated that she will continue to her tennis career at the post-secondary level. With the support of Mavericks Women’s Hockey Coaches, the fifteen year old, two time defending Mid Canada Open U18 Champion hopes to pursue a Division II tennis opportunity at Mankato as well.  

While she will be with the Queens for the foreseeable future working on her craft, Paddington will follow in the footsteps of former Thunder Bay Queen’s standouts Kate Hainrich, Mel Salatino and Shera Vis as Thunder Bay products to play at Minnesota State.  In her first four years with the Queens, Alexis has consistently led her team in scoring amassing 346 points in 215 games played including over 200 goals with the Queen’s program.  The two time Queens MVP and two time Most Valuable Offensive Player was garnering attention from multiple schools stateside, but when asked why she chose Minnesota State, Alexis said that it felt ‘warm and comfortable right away.’   

The Mavericks play in the powerhouse WCHA and are located in Mankato, classic small town Minnesota just south of Minneapolis.  Minnesota State is a school of about 13 000 students and having spent a great deal of time in the ‘State of Hockey’ with both the Queens and several travelling rep teams based out of Duluth or Minneapolis, it was a good fit for Alexis.  

“I like that the campus is close to home, but not too close” she said with a smile.  “The facilities at the school were beautiful.  But what really caught my attention was that the players obviously seemed like a very close group and obviously really liked and respected their coaches.”  

The development of the Mavericks program is showing signs of a program on the rise already more than doubling their win totals from last season.  This program is one heading in the right direction with quality people, strong academics and high-level athletes.   

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