Denna Laing has long been an inspiration to young female athletes in the state.
A three-sport athlete at Noble & Greenough in Dedham, the Marblehead native was a member of five Independent School League championship teams before she graduated in 2010.
Laing then captained the women’s hockey team at Princeton for two years before skating for the Boston Blades of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. This year, she joined the Boston Pride of the National Women’s Hockey League.
But on New Year’s Eve, playing in the Women’s Outdoor Classic at Gillette Stadium, Laing lost her footing and suffered a significant spinal injury.
As Laing recovers, teams around the state have been quick to support her.
“Before she had her accident, she was extremely inspirational because of what she accomplished in her career already,” said Anna Hurley, a senior captain for the Sandwich girls’ hockey team. “Now she has her accident, and she’s doing everything she can to stay strong.
“To me, it just makes me want to give everything I’ve got when I’m on the ice, because you never know when that could be your last game.”
Hurley got her teammates together and came up with a way to show support. Before their game against Hingham Jan. 9, Hurley and the Lady Knights wore black and yellow hair ties and put hearts with Laing’s No. 14 on the back of their helmets.
“It was so simple,” said Hurley. “I knew that we couldn’t really help her, but I knew that if we could spread this message across the globe that it would be amazing. It’s just so she knows how she’s impacted the hockey society.”
After Sandwich’s Jan. 13 game against Martha’s Vineyard, players from both teams formed a “14” at center ice.
“I just want people to understand that there are women out there that have worked so hard at a sport,” said Hurley. “Just because she got an injury, I think that was news-breaking, so that got her story across.
“But before that, she was so much of an inspiration to myself and my teammates that we want to honor her, everything that she’s accomplished, and for all the hard work that she’s put in.”
In Laing’s hometown, the Marblehead girls’ hockey team organized a Denna Laing Night last Saturday. Admission for the game against Medford that night went to the Denna Laing Fund, and tables were set up so people could make cards for Laing.
“You hate to see this happen to anyone,” said Marblehead coach Emily Hudak. “Anything we can do to help the cost and get her through a tough day, we’re happy to help.”