Hockey alumna gives back to the community one goal at a time

August 03, 2023

Gillian Gallagher on the ice in hockey gear playing with her hockey stick

When the Quinnipiac women's ice hockey team skated onto the ice for the first time in 2001, Gill Gallagher '05, scored the first goal.

Her love for the sport inspired her to align her future aspirations accordingly, not only in regard to hockey but also in helping the local community. 

With this in mind, halfway through her third year of college, she made a change.

“It’s a funny story,” said Gallagher. “I always grew up thinking that I would be in the medical field somewhere. I went to Quinnipiac to become an athletic trainer, to go and be hired at the high school level. Halfway through my third year, I had a change of heart and decided I wanted to help people in a different way. I switched majors and earned a degree in criminal justice.”

Gallagher felt good about her decision after completing an internship with a local police department as it solidified that police work was in fact her calling, she now has served as a detective in the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) for the past 17 years.

“Every day in the SIU is different,” said Gallagher. “There is no special key ingredient to get ready for what could come. But knowing my core values, ethics, physical and mental training and believing that I can make a difference in a person's life, no matter how big or small, means the world to me. I want a person at their worst to know that me, and many others, are there for them to help in any way possible.”

Gallagher's role in the special investigations unit consists of conducting in-depth investigations into crimes such as sexual assault, elder abuse and elder trafficking. She also helps with outside community service programs and police department outreach.

Being a member of the women's ice hockey team at Quinnipiac has helped her lay the groundwork for where she is today, she said.

“My success with ice hockey as a Quinnipiac player and ice hockey coach today has aided me in my current career as it has helped me give back my love, respect and professionalism for the community and has deepened my understanding of people from all different walks of life,” said Gallagher.

Gallagher reminisced on one moment that has made a lasting impact on her as well as on her career: being approached by a local youth hockey coach at Northford Ice Pavilion while practicing.

“While I was at the rink after a practice one day, I was approached by Mike Finolia, a youth hockey coach, who was asking about the Quinnipiac team and how things were going,” she said. “I had mentioned that the team was doing well and after a little chatter back and forth about the love for the game, I had mentioned that I was not from Connecticut but from New Jersey and loved to do community service type things. I mentioned that although student-athletes at Quinnipiac are very busy studying and playing their respective sports, they like to give back to the community. Our conversation kept going, and shortly after, he asked if I would like to assist him in coaching at the Polar Bears Youth Hockey Organization, the only girl’s youth hockey team in the rink at the time."

Gallagher attributes this interaction to being the bud in her blossoming journey of dedication to assisting people not only in her job as a detective but also as she coaches youth hockey, high school boys hockey and is a proud team member of a charity team called CT Guns HC.

“Hockey really is a beautiful sport both on the ice and off the ice,” she said. “Ice hockey has taught me many life lessons, respect for all and to bring passion into everything I do.”

Gallagher additionally shared her pride for the current Quinnipiac women's ice hockey team.

“I am in awe to see where the women’s ice hockey team started and where it is today,” she said. “Every player, coach, trainer, administrator and everyone in between has been pivotal in the remarkable place the team is in today.”

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