Recall, if you will, the trepidation that accompanied those first few tentative steps, leaving the nest to pursue your post-secondary academic dreams out of town.
Now throw in a touch of additional anxiety, given that your pathway leads you south of the Canadian border, jumping feet first into an educational system that is quite different from anything you have experienced, with teachings provided in a completely different language than the one to which you had become accustomed to in both elementary and high school.
Finally, just for good measure, let's top it off with all that enters the mix thanks to a global pandemic.
"It's definitely a unique year," noted netminder Mireille Kingsley, with a chuckle, summarizing quite adeptly the world-wide sentiment of most folks these days.
For Kingsley and forward Madisyn Papineau, both members of the Sudbury Lady Wolves team that captured silver at the 2019 Esso Cup in Sudbury, preparing to begin their NCAA careers with the Providence Friars and RPI Engineers respectively, these are interesting times indeed.
"I would say that we are pretty confident in our decision for me to come to school here," said Kingsley, who is already in residence in Providence (Rhode Island), halfway through her two-week quarantine period. "With all of the precautions that the school has taken, I think it will be a safe environment."
Make no mistake - the additional uncertainty of Covid-19 has not helped ease the typical separation issues that Gilles and Lianne Kingsley would have experienced in otherwise normal times. "We had a lot of questions and they (the school/the coaches) tried their best to keep us informed," noted the talented 18 year-old puck-stopper.
"When they found out something else, they would tell us and share it."
Thankfully, there were factors that helped the family in moving forward. "One thing that helped put us at ease is that Rhode Island is definitely not the worst state with regards to Covid cases," said Kingsley. "My school is fairly small, and half of my classes are on-line, half are in class. We have to wear masks everywhere we go, except in residence."
"They definitely helped make us feel that it's safe to come."
In fairness, all of these feelings are, of course, offset against the excitement that an NCAA freshman is sensing, anxious to begin the next phase of her hockey career. "Our season is supposed to start in November, but we really don't have any details yet on that," said Kingsley.
"We're really curious about how our season is going to play out, how that is going to go about. I'm excited to see how everything is going to be."
While the ice has not yet even been installed at the Schneider Arena, and obtaining ice-time back in Ontario was no easy feat this summer, Kingsley is not terribly concerned. "The fact is that everyone is in the same boat, no one has been able to get on the ice, too much," she said. "We will all be starting from there."
As for her new home away from home, the giddiness of a brand new adventure is evident in her voice. "I think that there is a lot more of Providence for me to notice, other than what I have seen in the little walks that I have taken so far," said Kingsley. "Right now, I feel like I haven't really needed to adjust much, other than to the fact that I am stuck inside."
"It's all international students that are here in quarantine right now, so we are all really eager to be done quarantine."
Papineau, for her part, is still a few days from beginning her quarantine. Come Monday, she will leave for Troy (New York), site of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). Much like Kingsley, she does so blessed with a reasonable peace of mind. "RPI has been really great in terms of communicating, getting all of the information out as far as their plan and what they intend to do," said Papineau.
"I've been talking with our coaching staff on team Zoom calls almost every Saturday for the past three months now, getting updates about what is going on. Then we also get daily emails from the school for rez (residence) life, even emails from our teachers, answering all of our questions."
The 18 year-old center, who skated with the Oakville Hornets of the PWHL (Provincial Women’s Hockey League) last year, is quick to acknowledge that her perspective might differ, just a little, from that of her parents, Rob and Wendy. "I'm the one who is going, eager to get going, eager to start playing," she said.
"They don't get to come and watch me, right now, so it's probably a little harder for them, with everything that is going on."
As for the hockey, there is not necessarily a great deal more certainty in the ECAC (Eastern College Athletic Conference), home to RPI and 11 other teams, than there is in Hockey East, where Providence toils with nine other entries.
"The last public update that came out was that their intent was to play - that's what they came out with about a month ago," said Papineau. "What that's going to look like, we're not sure yet. It's like everything else going on right now - there's so many things that have to happen still. I'm hearing that it's not likely that we are going to play until December or January."
Mind you the advantage, as a rookie, is that one does not arrive on campus with any kind of point of reference. "I suppose that's one thing, that I don't have any expectations based on what it was like last year," admitted Papineau. "Whatever happens is what I am going to be used to, right from the get-go."
"Some of the other girls will have to change their habits that they were used to in the past years."
Straying from the past might not be a bad thing for the Engineers. The RPI women struggled mightily to hit the win column in 2019-2020. Where Papineau will step into the Houston Field House, home venue for her new team, with a completely clean slate, many returning teammates will be more than happy to wipe the slate clean.
"Our team has a really positive attitude, really driven and determined to get better," she said. "They didn't come off the greatest season last year. They are all pretty hungry to get going and have a better season."
And the challenges, no matter how numerous, will have to be cast aside, at least for now.