Paige Capistran knows a thing or two about being a woman in sports.
The Manchester, N.H., native has played hockey essentially her entire life, beginning to skate when she was just 3 years old. Capistran played in the boys league as a kid. At that time, that was her only option.
“I played boys hockey until the eighth grade, I was the only girl pretty much every year,” Capistran told NESN.com. “There was one girl on my team in middle school.”
Capistran made the switch from boys to girls hockey in high school when she played for the Fairfield Stars in Connecticut. She went to boarding school in order to play, leaving her New Hampshire home at just 14 years old so she could play.
Capistran committed to Northeastern later than most recruits but she knew she wanted to play for a Beanpot school.
“Such a dream come true to be able to play at Northeastern,” Capistran said. “… Absolutely loved it.”
She was the captain of the Huskies her senior year, which was the winningest season in program history with 32 victories. Capistran didn’t give too much thought about potentially playing professional hockey after college. The PHF (then the NWHL) began when Capistran was in high school.
“I absolutely loved being the leader of that team. That was like my main focus (playing for a Beanpot school),” Capistran said. “And then I didn’t think I was going to play. So when I was in college, it was called the NWHL. I didn’t really think of playing for the NWHL. I wanted senior year, us to win the Beanpot, Hockey East Championship and the National Championship and then be done.”
Once her senior season officially ended in shortened fashion, Capistran thought her playing days were over. But then teams came knocking.
“My senior year was COVID. So two days before quarterfinals for NCAA, that was when everything got shut down. Which was heartbreaking. So heartbreaking. So then probably maybe two months later, my Northeastern (defense) coach Lindsay Berman, who was such a mentor to me, asked if I was interested in playing in the NWHL. And at that point, I kind of thought I didn’t get to end my career the way I wanted to, so I was just thinking, ‘might as well.’
“I didn’t know what I want to do for my professional career. And hearing that NWHL teams were interested in me, I just figured why not go for it? I love hockey. And then I decided that I wanted to continue and not have COVID be what ends my hockey career. I knew I wanted to play in Boston.”
Capistran was drafted by the Boston Pride and was part of the Isobel Cup-winning team in 2021.
The Boston Pride are 10-5-3 and sit in third place in the PHF standings. Boston is the defending Isobel Cup champion as it looks to repeat and become a three-time champ.
On top of being a full-time hockey player, Capistran also works as an assistant content producer at NESN. Loving baseball and hockey as a kid, and growing up in New England, she knew she wanted to work in sports, it was just a matter of what exactly she wanted to do.
Capistran started as a studio tech in April 2021 helping out on Jersey Street for Red Sox game productions.
“I immediately thought it was just wicked cool. And I loved being on Jersey Street this summer and getting to work with people like (Tom Caron) and Lenny (DiNardo),” Capistran said. “And seeing the behind-the-scenes stuff. I just really like the team aspect of it. Which obviously athletes like being part of a team. So that’s definitely a reason why I love being here.”
While Capistran can’t see into the future, she does know that hockey will forever be a part of her life in some capacity.
“Yeah, I don’t think it’s going anywhere. I started skating when I was three. I don’t remember not playing hockey. Like it’s been my whole life. It’s the reason why I left home at 14 which was really challenging at the time, like all of high school I was homesick. But in my head it’s like, this is for hockey. And it was easy.
“Last year when I coached the Rivers School girls’ varsity team, I really liked making connections and I feel that’s just so fun to be a part of. And I would love to make an impact on future or current younger girls hockey players and just help them grow as individuals and as the game itself.
“And working at NESN hockey is always on. … Hockey is a part of me so, yeah, I don’t think it’s going anywhere.”
Capistran is hopeful to continue to grow the game, especially for young girls who want to play hockey.
“I really believe that women’s hockey is just going to continue to be more respected and have the respect it actually deserves because if you compare when I was those little girls age, to now, there was no professional hockey for women,” Capistran said. “And now there is so this is only going to get better.”
As for any advice she’d give aspiring women hockey players?
“I would tell them don’t quit,” Capistran said, noting Pride captain Jillian Dempsey has a saying of ‘prove people wrong.’
Capistran and the rest of the Pride are preparing to wrap up their season this weekend before heading to Florida for the Isobel Cup playoffs. Then when she returns to Boston will continue her career in sports at NESN when the offseason begins.