It’s hard to say goodbye

Departing athletes Caitlyn Lahonen, Lauren McEwen and Taylor Clements discuss their final season

Lauren McEwen scored 219 points for the Gaels, an all-time record.
Lauren McEwen scored 219 points for the Gaels, an all-time record.
Caitlyn Lahonen was the women's hockey team's starting goalie.
Caitlyn Lahonen was the women's hockey team's starting goalie.
Taylor Clements played for four years on the men's hockey team.
Taylor Clements played for four years on the men's hockey team.
As the school year comes to a close, many varsity athletes will be hanging up their Gael jerseys for the last time.
Three of Queen’s most talented athletes shared their experience and thoughts on their time as a Gael. Women’s hockey’s Caitlyn Lahonen served as the team’s starting goalie for the past two seasons. Taylor Clements was a crucial hard-nosed winger for his four years with the Gaels’ men’s hockey program. And Lauren McEwen was a two-time CIS medalist and the women’s rugby team’s all-time leading scorer.
The Journal sat down with the three to tell their stories and let them say goodbye.
What was it like putting on the Gaels jersey for the final time?
Lahonen: You never really prepare yourself to put the jersey on for that last time. Now it’s over and there is no next year, and you wish that you would’ve really embraced it a little more. At Queen’s, they grow such a family and knowing that you’re a part of that family is a great feeling. I think that’s what I’ll miss the most.
Clements: Near the end of my hockey season it was a pretty emotional time, because you’re always thinking about the ‘what if’s?’ and the, ‘what’s next?’ When it came down to game time it was all about the game, nothing changed.
After my last game … I was like, “holy shit, that was my last hockey game as a Gael.”
McEwen: It was very bittersweet. I will always, forever, feel like my last game as a Gael was the national championship game, but the [7s rugby tournament in British Columbia in March] was a little more fun. It gave me a chance to do things I’d never do. It was nice to get all of those trick plays out of your system before you have to hang up your cleats. 
What was it like to be part of a growing varsity program?
Clements: It’s really fun to be a part of. My first year here we had a rough season and from my second to fourth year we were a very competitive team. 
McEwen: 2013 — that was where it all kind of exploded. That was where we won the OUA for the first time ever, it was the year where we kind of looked at ourselves as a team and said, “We’re a contending team. We can be the best in the country.” We started demanding respect. 
Lahonen: We’ve really gained a lot more resources and a lot more people [working for the team]. My first year here, we didn’t have a goalie coach, and now we have a full-time goalie coach. Now we have a defensive coach to help develop skills. The off-ice training program has really grown an immense amount. It’s crazy.
What’s next for you?
Lahonen: I’m going back home to Saskatoon. I’ll be starting a job with a Potash Corporation, working as a process engineer in training. I’ll play hockey with the guys at work and get involved in coaching. Competitive hockey is on a standstill at the moment.
Clements: I don’t want to play hockey any more, the thrill is gone for me. I’m happy with where I’ve ended up. I want to hit the workforce. I want to find out what is a passion for mine besides hockey. I don’t know what it is right now, but I want to find it. 
McEwen: I’m going to stay in Kingston, and I’m going to be coaching full-time at St. Lawrence. 
What was the one defining moment or play of your career at Queen’s?
Lahonen: I wouldn’t say there’s one moment. But those moments where you come together as a team, like in spring training. If one person is the last person to finish a drill, you finish as a team.
Clements: I’ll always remember in second year, beating out Ottawa in the first round of the playoffs. That’s the highlight reel moment that sticks out for me. We won the third game in overtime to win the series. I had an assist on the play. I don’t remember being happier.
McEwen: I think the most memorable moment would be after the Acadia game [where Queen’s won 24-17 after falling behind 17-0], just realizing what the heck we just did … seeing the look on everybody’s faces, the pure genuine belief [that we could win] that everyone had. 
Also, in first year, during our OUA bronze game, I came in as a sub. We were down, and I got pooped on by a bird. I then went on and scored the 
game-winning try.
What do you want to be remembered for?
Lahonen: I want to be remembered as a hard worker, a dedicated athlete. Someone who never gives up.
Clements: People will remember me for having fun while working hard. [The one lesson I learned is] if you put the effort in, the work always gets done. 
McEwen: I hope that they say how much fun they had with me, because I sure as hell had a lot of fun with those girls. I hope that I’m remembered for my passion. I think that rugby has given me a lot, Queen’s women’s rugby especially, it’s given me so much. I’m so passionate about it. Maybe [I’ll be remembered for] a couple kicks here and there. 
These interviews were condensed and edited for clarity.

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