Thursday, September 22, 2011
A New Perspective, and A New Appreciation for Our Great Game!
20 September, 2011
As I am on a flight from my hometown of Winnipeg traveling back to my new home of Toronto, I am enjoying the beautiful colours of the sunset light up the sky. I always love my trips to Winnipeg, and this was certainly no exception. With the saying of ‘Friendly Manitoba’ on the license plates, this province remains true to its form. With my morning run through the neighbourhood I grew up in, every person smiles, and seems to want to chat. Along with sunshine and blue skies, I am filled with gratitude. It’s all so refreshing! This place was always good for a boost of energy.
The past few months have been on the reflective side for me. My trips back to Winnipeg seem to influence me in that way as well. Perhaps it’s as I walk along the same roads I walked when I was a five year old to get to the outdoor rink. Throughout my career it was a place that was great for recovery, and for reminding me of the joy of the game!
I smile to think of all of the AMAZING opportunities that the game has provided me. It’s nice to see the possibilities for young players now. Each day I learn a bit more about the growth of women’s hockey, and it makes me excited!
As I reminisce, I try to think some highlights of my playing career. One thing rises above all others. The best highlight, by far, is the chance that I had to be surrounded by great people. The friends that I made at high school hockey, at Harvard, in Toronto and with the National team are ones that I will have for life. As a person and as an athlete, I tried to pride myself on bringing out the best in those around me. My hope was always to make others better, to help them play with pure confidence, and to share the joy of the sport! My ultimate honour would be for my teammates to feel that I influenced them in a positive way, even if just in a small way.
This is indeed a new phase of my life, and I enter it as a very happy girl. I feel a new sense of fulfillment. I smile with joy to think of being involved in four Olympic games. It honestly feels like it has flown by! From being a young rookie in ’98 to sharing in a part of Canada’s sports history in 2010, it’s always been a journey for me, and one I strived to enjoy with balance in my life.
From the rinks of Wildwood Park in Winnipeg, to Father David Bauer Arena in Calgary, to Bright Hockey rink at Harvard, to the Mastercard Center for the Toronto Hockey Club. From ball hockey in the basement with my older brother, to Olympic gold medal games and the Olympic final game in Vancouver - hockey made me smile.
It is fun that the game continues to make me smile. Taking a step in a different direction is providing me with a new perspective on the game. It’s fun to see girls starting out in the game, and my neighbours young kids become more outgoing and energetic because they play on girls hockey teams. It’s fun to see players succeed and to share in the excitement of opportunity that lies ahead.
Was hockey also demanding and challenging? Absolutely. Were there moments that were difficult and exhausting? Yes! And in many different ways. On the other hand, do I feel grateful? Extremely. If I had to summarize my feeling with this new transition of my life, it would be one of appreciation. I am so thankful for my teammates, and for all of the moments we shared. Though the challenges I always took pride in performing in key situations and big games. Playing the game at an elite level was a dream come true. I continue to build on that energy and passion, and am using that to fuel my new dreams and visions!
With my new journeys ahead, I am loving speaking engagements and having the chance to help people in many fields of life. Some television opportunities, various events, some charity work, and some new roles with the IIHF and IOC have all been a nice change of pace. I may not be in the rink for quite the same hours, but have found great ways to enjoy the game in a new capacity. I may have also found a true love of tennis, yoga, and running along Lake Ontario! All very refreshing for me.
I continue to share in the joy of the game with friends that are still playing. At the very same time I also share in the fun of hockey with friends and family that have little kids just starting out.
It has been, and continues to be, a true honour to be a part of the culture of the great game of hockey. Thanks to you all for sharing in it.