It was obvious from an early age that Jessica Vance was going to be a special athlete.
After moving to Prince Albert from Lethbridge, Alta. with her family at the age of four, Vance would excel in elementary school and recreational athletics.
Vance shone both on the softball diamond and on the ice and she will be inducted into the Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame this Saturday at the 31st induction banquet at the Ches Leach Lounge.
She says she is thrilled to receive the recognition.
“It’s kind of surreal, honestly. Just looking at the inductees that I’m up with. I would never imagine myself being amongst them. I was a little bit surprised cause I didn’t expect to be nominated or anything like that because you don’t get told about those things. It is a huge honor. I’m super proud to be a member of the community and the opportunities I got here.”
Vance began playing softball at the age of five and would play in older age divisions in both house league and developmental levels. Primarily playing at shortstop and catcher, Vance played for nine years in the Aalcaann Developmental Fastpitch Organization.
The Saskatoon Hustlers Bantam team added Vance to their roster for the 2023 Bantam Canadians in Brantford, Ontario. She would earn a starting outfield job with the team and was named a Canadian All-star outfielder at the tournament.
She led the Bantam Aces to a gold medal at the Western Canadian Softball Championships in Winnipeg in 2013 and was named an all-star for the Girls Prairie League of Softball (GPLA) during three seasons that she played.
Despite having success in multiple sports, hockey was where Vance found her passion. She gravitated towards becoming a goaltender and became a student at the position.
When she played female hockey, she would play at older age divisions. Vance would crack the roster for the Prince Albert Midget AAA A & W Bears at the age of 13.
Vance says her time with the Bears program was incredibly important in helping her develop into a leader.
“My first year with the Bears was in grade eight, which I was super fortunate to have had that opportunity. You don’t really see that nowadays as someone who is that young and playing on the Midget AAA team. [I was] pretty fortunate to have had the coaches and the program take that chance on me and let me try to begin at an elite level at a young age.
From there I just kind of took off and just embraced the role and kind of being a veteran too, because I was there for five years, which no one on my team had been there for that long. I definitely learned a lot about being a leader on the Bears.”
She would shine throughout her five years in the Saskatchewan Midget Female AAA Hockey League, known today at the SFU18AAAHL.
Vance was named the Brittony Chartier top goaltender twice in 2013-14 and 2014-15 while receiving first team all star nods in both seasons.
Vance is currently the SFU18AAAHL all time leader in games played (91), wins (48) and shutouts (16).
After graduating from the Bears program, Vance would move onto the University of Saskatchewan where she continued to find success.
In 2017-2018, Vance was named the Canada West Player of the Year and USports First Team All-Canadian. The Huskies would finish fourth nationally that season.
Playing only three of her five years of eligibility, Vance was named the team MVP for the U of S Women’s hockey team in all three seasons.
At the end of her Canada West career, Vance had put her name firmly near or at the top of the leaderboard in goaltender statistics. In 70 career games with the Huskies, she posted a .946 save percentage, a 1.17 goal against average, 38 wins and 20 shutouts.
Her career even included an opportunity to don the Maple leaf as Vance played for Team Canada at the 2019 FISU World University games in Krasnoyark, Russia.
Vance says representing her country was her most memorable experience in sports.
“That was probably my favorite sports moment so far. Being able to put on maple leaf for the first time is pretty exciting because that’s something that was a goal of mine. Like in the back of my head the entire time I was playing hockey, I wanted to represent my country and to actually get that opportunity was pretty special and it just makes you proud to represent your country, especially being at the world University games.”
Vance would start four games and appear in five games total for Team Canada on route to a silver medal. She posted a .959 save percentage and a 1.12 goals against average
Vance is currently attending the University of Toronto where she is completing her master’s degree in physical therapy.