PHOENIX -- With an unbreakable bond between them, Alyssa and Shea Theodore admittedly haven't had a lot of time to spend with one another ever since he left for Seattle to play for the Western Hockey League's Thunderbirds as a teenager.
Alyssa, the older of the two at 24 years of age, is among a dozen or so brothers and sisters on the Ducks' first-ever Siblings Trip that began in Denver and continued in Arizona, providing a unique experience and some one-on-one time in-season - a rarity when it comes to the rigors and demands of an 82-game schedule.
And to think, it almost didn't happen for the Theodores. As Shea recalls, he first let her know about the trip before Christmas while he was with the Ducks, but he was reassigned to San Diego on New Year's Day. With the trip fast approaching and Shea still playing with the Gulls, he updated his sister on the situation. "I told her just a couple of days ago that I didn't think it was going to happen," Shea says. "It's cutting it close and I'm still in San Diego."
But as it turned out, he was recalled by the Ducks on January 11 - a day before the game in Colorado, which the Ducks won, 4-1. "The day before the trip, they called me up, and I called her up and told her to pack her bags," Shea says. "The next morning she met us in Denver. I'm super excited having her here and I know it's a cool experience for all the siblings."
"It's definitely been a blessing," Alyssa says, with her 21-year-old brother at her side. "It's been unreal. I haven't been able to spend too much time with my brother, so just getting some time with him is nice. Just being able to catch up with him. He's older now, and a bit more mature. It's been wonderful."
Currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in kinesiology and a minor in sociology at the University of the Fraser Valley in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Alyssa also works part-time at a greenhouse. She enjoys rock climbing and staying active back in Aldergrove, B.C., and plays ice hockey in women's and men's leagues whenever she can. "She's actually a half-decent player," Shea says. "She's really good. She's fast and has a nose for the net. I wouldn't say she has the hardest shot, but she loves playing."
She even gave him his first scar. As Shea recalls, it happened in the garage when the two were playing hockey. "She was around six and I was three, and she wound up for a slap shot and got the stick up high," he says, with a laugh. "She definitely would've gotten four minutes. Little bit of blood and a couple of stitches. To this day, my first scar was from her." Alyssa says she remembers that moment as if it were yesterday. "I definitely cried more than he did when he got stitches," she says. "I felt awful."
Alyssa has been one of Shea's biggest supporters throughout his hockey career, so there's almost a type of carry-over effect whenever he takes the ice. "It's inspiring to see him succeed," she says. "It's made me work harder in school and in my own game whether it's men's league or women's league. It's been inspirational seeing how far he's gone, so it's like, in a different [realm], how far can I go?"
Though she's three years older than Shea, Alyssa says she was never the protective type growing up. "I just wanted to be best friends with him," she says. "We never really fought. We always got along. I've known all of his friends since he was young."
With that being said, Alyssa isn't afraid to give her younger brother advice on the game of hockey every once in a while. "I'm always positive," she says, with a smile. "It's always good feedback, if I have any." Shea clarifies, "She gives me advice all the time. 'Should've made that pass,' or 'Why didn't you shoot that?'"
Having his sister here with him as he lives out his childhood dream, Shea says, is something he'll never forget. "To have family in the crowd for any of your games, you want to make an impact and play your best game. It definitely motivates all of us having them here. It's definitely a special memory having her out here. She's having a lot of fun with a couple of the sisters."