Heart of a soldier

Kerry Healy

Although many athletes are motivated by their family, Meghan Turner’s motivation is unique compared to most. Her family’s military history and experience is one that pushes her to be the best she can be, both on and off the ice.

Born and raised in Bedford, N.H., Turner lived hockey growing up. As the youngest of five, she’s had the opportunity to watch and learn from all of her siblings who’ve each played the game at some point in their lives.

“When I was 1, my parents built a rink in the backyard, and by 2, my parents put me on skates even though I could barely walk,” Turner said.

Turner’s hockey career soon left the backyard and headed to the co-ed leagues in her town.

“I started playing with the boys when I was 4,” Turner said. “But my oldest two brothers were the ones who really got into [hockey] because they lived in Texas and when they moved to New Hampshire there wasn’t soccer for young kids, so my parents put them in the hockey program and that’s where it all started for my family.”

As Turner grew up she had the opportunity to watch her brothers play and learn the game herself. She wanted to follow in their hockey footsteps and make them as proud as they made her.

“I have people to look up to both athletically and academically,” Turner said. “I get to learn as a person from what they do and how they do it because they set the standards pretty high for me. So it’s just always trying to live up to it and make everyone around me proud.”

But hockey is only a small reason why she looks up to them.

Turner’s three older brothers, James, Jeffrey and Kevin, all entered the military. Two of the brothers were deployed twice.

“Off the ice, it’s a little bit scary at first when they get deployed,” Tuner said. “I was younger at first and really didn’t understand the real dangers. There were some scary moments that bring you back to reality. Athletically, it motivates you to do better and do it for someone who is fighting for you, your family and your country. It’s not something that you can relate to unless you have a similar situation.”

With her family fighting overseas, Meghan wanted to fight for them too. She wanted to make them proud of her each and every step of her life, just like they do for her.

Each game was a way to show them how much she cared through her attitude and her improvement on the ice.

“There was a state championship and my brother James was overseas in Afghanistan and I did an interview with a newspaper where they asked about my brother motivating me from overseas,” Turner said. “And I did that interview to be able to email it to him, to let him really see that I am doing things for him and for my brothers.”

The military life was something common in her family. Turner explained that both her parents actually met in the military. Her mom was a nurse and her dad a pilot. Her mother’s side of the family is military oriented. From generations down, she explained it’s been “the thing to do.”

“It’s something that’s pretty practical. You’re serving your country, you’re overseas experiencing the world from a whole different angle and you get to do something good for it too,” Turner said. “But also when you come back, you have all this experience to put back into the workforce. You are a hard worker and you have the opportunity to think about the bigger picture.”

Being the youngest of five had its perks for learning and playing hockey, but it did come with a bit of pressure to succeed.

“When I was younger, they would say I was going to be in the Olympics one day. I was like, ‘I’m only 10!’” Meghan said laughing. “There is a lot of pressure being the only one who made it Division I. It’s great, but they expect a lot out of you.”

Although Turner’s military background surprised Quinnipiac head coach Rick Seeley, he said it made sense and explained it is probably why she has such incredible attention to detail.

“We are really happy with our team chemistry, we have great kids here and she just fits in perfectly,” Seeley said. “Meghan played for a prominent program at Assabet in Massachusetts. We always liked how she played. When we met her we knew she was a phenomenal person, committed to both academics and athletics.”

In the Bobcats’ home opener, Turner proved to be an asset to the team, picking up her first-career goal and assist, helping the team defeat Penn State University 5-1. On Tuesday, she was named the ECAC Hockey Rookie of the Week.

“I want to be a contributor to the team,” Turner said. “As a team we have high expectations for ourselves. I want to contribute to our success. It’s more about the team and making an impact to help the team reach their goals both on and off the ice.”