The words flow freely and easily when Ottawa 67’s are asked to describe Housing and Education Coordinator Eileen Duffin, or Mrs. D as she is known to most around here.
Many apt descriptors for someone who does many important things for the young players that make up the Barber Poles. Mrs. D is a teacher, an advisor, a sounding board and a coach in her own way. She’s there for a player having trouble with school, or for one who is about to graduate and is planning for the future. She’s there to talk to parents, who more often than not live in a different city. She makes sure everyone has a place to live and has coordinated billet arrangements since 2014. She’ll pick players up if they need a lift and field calls and texts on everything from sore throats to lost car keys. She also makes a mean loaf of banana bread.
The bottom line: since joining the 67’s for the 2011-2012 season, she’s been as indispensable for the club as a goalie or leading scorer as she helps players navigate the often tricky trajectory of a student athlete. She is looked up to by the players, relied on by coaches and beloved by families who are entrusting her with their children’s education and life skills development. It’s a responsibility she takes very seriously.
“She’s the heart and soul of our organization,” said 67’s Head Coach Andre Tourigny. “She cares so much about these boys and takes great care of them. She really is like a second mom to our players.”
“Last summer when we met with the families, the name that came up all the time was Mrs. D and how great she is with the boys and their families. She’s very much appreciated by everyone.”
On International Women’s Day, Eileen “Mrs. D” Duffin is yet another example that, even in the male-dominated world of major junior hockey, women are changing and improving lives every single day. And when that includes dealing with teen hockey players, well, someone should probably get this particular woman a medal.