Jessica Coulombe’s dream came with a daunting $46,000 price tag. Faced with those seemingly insurmountable odds, the Belmont secondary student could have given up, but instead she got to work.
Her goal was to raise enough funds to attend the famed Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Saskatchewan, a highly regarded sports school that has produced such NHL stars as Vincent Lecavalier, Rod Brind’Amour and Brad Richards.
The high cost of tuition, room and board meant she would have to do some fundraising, and rather than ask for a simple sponsorship, she decided to start her own clothing company.
“I wanted to earn the money,” she said.
The first thing she needed was a company logo and a name, and that proved to be a challenge. It was a conversation with her dad and twin brother that helped her come up with the latter.
“My family was talking and my brother made a joke. My dad said, ‘hey that’s totally offside,’” she said.
Coulombe thought Totally Offside would make for a cool name – recognizing that most hockey players have their toughest battles around the blue line – and it stuck.
Next, she designed the logo.
A blue line was naturally a main component of the logo and Coulombe added a series of rune characters.
“For some reason they spoke to me; they meant something. So I kind of found my favourite ones, which was strength, victory, and force and defence,” she explained.
Coulombe raised enough money to be able to attend Athol Murray College in Grade 11, where she started out as a seventh defenceman on the women’s team, but saw her game evolve into that of a top-six forward.
“I got most improved for the team. I’m such a better player because of (attending the school),” she said, adding the experience also helped push her academically through a rigorous study schedule.
She has returned to Belmont for her Grade 12 year to be closer to her family, especially her father, a member of the Canadian Armed Forces who had returned from deployment.
This season, she’s playing for the Pacific Steelers.
Totally Offside used to sell hats and different styles of t-shirts, but after running out of their initial stock, Coulombe decided to focus on selling the popular hoodies and baseball-style tees.
Now, her goal is to sell 1,000 hoodies and she’s begun taking applications from fellow athletes who are in need of funding to pursue their goals.
As for her own goals, Coulombe, 17, is keeping her options open. She’d like to play university hockey but she’s also hoping to pursue a career in the medical field.
“It’s a game I love and I’ll always be involved in it.”
For more information on her company, visit totally-offside.myshopify.com.