“It’s still kind of setting in. I am super excited. I feel it won’t set in for me until I actually get there but I am so grateful to have this opportunity,” a 16 year old Brooklyn Nimegeers said about committing to play hockey for the Princeton University Tigers in two years time.
Yes, Princeton University as in Ivy League Princeton. Also Princeton as in the town in New Jersey.
“It feels awesome. The process has definitely been long with looking at so many schools. The whole process to find the school that will be the best fit for me has been a long one. Yeah I committed to Princeton (Tigers) and it feels great. I think it is the right fit for me. I talked to a lot of schools and Princeton just stood out for me compared to all of the other ones,” she said.
Nimegeers was actively pursued by over a dozen NCAA US schools wanting her to play for them.
“They have an amazing hockey program. A big part of why I chose them was because of the coaching staff. They kind of just set it apart from all of the other schools I talked to. They have two Olympians on their team which is super cool. And yes they are definitely a really good hockey team,” Nimegeers said.
At Princeton, the former Moose Jaw Mavericks as well as a player in the Moose Jaw Minor Hockey boys program, will be coached by a trio of the top coaches in elite females’ hockey - Cara Morey, Courtney Kessel and Shelly Picard.
“Definitely the coaching staff at Princeton was a major factor in my decision,” she said.
Cara Morey (head coach) coached Team Canada at the U-18 World Championships, and was a gold medalist as a player with Team Canada.
She will also be coached by Courtney Kessel, a Team Canada World Champion player, head coach of the Toronto Furies of the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) last season, and Current Head coach for Hockey Canada U18 Team.
And the final coach she will be under the tutelage of is Shelly Picard, assistant coach, a former team USA Olympic silver medalist and four-time IIHF World Champion.
“One of the really cool thing about the coaches at Princeton is they all played at the national level on Team Canada and Team USA. All three coaches are defence which is really cool and that is another reason I chose Princeton because they are all super experienced,” she said.
The announcement of where Nimegeers, now in her third season with the Saskatchewan Female U18 AAA Hockey League’s Regina Rebels, has yet to be made public with Brooklyn telling only a few people. They have been ‘super excited’ for her.
Nimegeers said her minor hockey career has been a long one and she finds it hard to believe in just under two years the future Vanier Collegiate graduate will be entering an Ivy League university.
“I don’t know what I am going to study in school yet but they told me that is no problem at all and I can figure out what I am interested in once I get there, so yeah, I am so really excited.”
Nimegeers had a stellar minor hockey career in Moose Jaw with her former coaches and people who have seen her play saying that as young as the age of 11 she was destined to be one of Canada’s greats in female hockey.
Playing for the Moose Jaw Pee Wee Mavericks in 2018-2019, Nimegeers had 49 goals and 14 assists in the course of 10 games as well as being a member of a boy’s team.
As a 13 year old she travelled to France to play hockey which at that time she said was a trip of a lifetime but with where her playing career has gone since then has just turned out to be a stepping stone along the way.
She would be a stalwart as a rookie with the Mavericks (Midget) U18 A team in 2019 - 2020 and her name appeared numerous times as the player who helped lead the team on one of the most exciting playoff runs in Moose Jaw Mavericks history.
For the 2020-2021 season Nimegeers, as a 14 year old, received SFHL (SHA) Exceptional Player Status and approval to play, as an underage player, with the Saskatchewan U18 AAA Regina Rebels. This after being recruited by other teams in that league.
She is in her third year with the U18AAA Rebels and leading the league with six goals and two assists playing defence. Last year Nimegeers had five goals and 21 assists for a total of 26 points - the top defence player in points for the league last season.
She will be part of Team Saskatchewan at the Canada Games in February 2023.
The decision to attend Princeton may have been easy given the caliber of the coaching staff and the female hockey program but it also comes with a high price tag - $125,000 Canadian per year.
“The one thing about Ivy League schools is they are not allowed to offer scholarships so I have to pay the full price there,” she said, adding “that (the cost) is the one thing that is unfortunate for Ivy leagues but I feel it will be worth it.”
According to Princeton University’s web site, the annual tuition is $56,010 USD in 2021-2022 but there are grants available to eligible students with 61 percent of applicants receiving a grant that covers the full tuition.
Despite there not being any athletic scholarships available Nimegeers says she feels she made the correct decision.
“I talked to a lot of other schools. I got multiple full scholarship offers but the big decision for me was trying to decide the team that (I wanted to be part of). The Ivy League path, the public school path, the private school path but in the end the Ivy League felt the right path for me because you get to play at the highest level of hockey but also having the highest level of education which is really cool.”
Nimegeers said the quality of education was “a big factor” in making the decision to commit to the Princeton Tigers program along with the hockey program.
“I think Princeton is one of the top schools, if not the top school in the United States, so I think I will get an amazing education and an amazing job out of that school.”
Although her goals are to someday play for Team Canada and make it to the Olympics, Nimegeers sees a degree from Princeton University as a key to a bright future away from hockey.
“As of right now I am not involved with Team Canada but I am hoping to be in the future,” she said mentioning a soon upcoming U18 camp she is hoping to be invited to.
About the jump to New Jersey from Moose Jaw, Nimegeers said it will be a change.
“It is definitely going to be a big change from Moose Jaw to New Jersey but I am super excited. I never thought I would be able to go to a school like Princeton. It definitely really exciting my parents (Jody and Natalie) are so excited. My whole family is so excited for me and yeah I can’t explain how excited I am.”