An Athens native becomes a hockey superstar

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) Everyone has a different story and comes from a place that teaches them valuable lessons through school or other activities. For Gwyneth Philips, her passion for playing hockey began by growing up in the heart of Southeast Ohio.

Philips, a goalie for Northeastern women’s hockey, started playing as a part of the youth league in Athens. The intangibles she learned while living in a small town and the support the community continues to give her is like no other.

“I think growing up in Athens was the best place to grow up,” Philips said. “There’s a lot of life lessons you can learn just because it is [a] very unique town.”

Young Gwyn in Athens hockey uniform
Young Gwyn in Athens hockey uniform/Linda Philips

Despite beginning the sport in Athens, she felt that the hockey league wasn’t enough. Philips played on multiple teams to be with her friends in Athens, however, she felt that she needed to grow personally in the sport. The way to continue to develop within the sport was to go to a bigger city. Her brother played in Columbus, so she decided to give that a try and she ended up playing there for multiple years.

With her time in Columbus, Philips played with a majority of boys on the teams she was on.

Her father, Guy Philips, drove her back and forth from Athens, which made for late nights and a lot of dedication.

“As he got older the nights got later,” Philips said. “We’d get back at like one in the morning,”

The opportunity for Philips to continue playing in Columbus came to a close when the guys started to move up, and she wasn’t able to play on a team with them anymore. Philips made the decision to move and attend Shady Side Academy, a private school in Pittsburgh, for education and the opportunity to help her continue to grow with hockey.

The experiences she had in Pittsburgh led her to Northeastern University. Since then, Philips has collected numerous accolades. In the 2022-23 season, she was named Women’s Hockey National Goaltender of the Year. Her team also made it to the Frozen Four and she had support flowing in from Athens throughout.

“It made me tear up a little bit to see what all these people are doing and like going out of the way to watch me play and stuff,” Philips said.

Philips still receives text messages from those who she grew up with in Athens. Some of her biggest supporters are her parents. They travel from Athens to watch her play and cheer the team on, even when she isn’t out on the ice.

Young Gwyn in oversized goalie pads
Young Gwyn in oversized goalie pads/Linda Philips

“Even when I wasn’t playing my parents were commuting all the way to Boston,” Philips said. “Just (to) be there and show their support to the team and me. So, their support over the years has been unwavering.”

For her parents, seeing Philips out competing on the ice brings a lot of different emotions. It means a lot for them to see her hard work continue to pay off.

“You’re excited for yourself, you’re excited for them, you’re nervous for them,” Linda Philips said. “I think the biggest emotion is that you’re super proud that they’ve weathered all that and there they are.”

Growing up in a small town like Athens helped Philips to develop into the person and player she is. Whether it be setting records in the Frozen Four or skating on the ice at Bird Arena for the first time, Philips will always carry a piece of Athens with her.

“That’s kind of what you get out of Athens,” Gwyneth Philips said. “You get those strong, long-term connections.”