Hayley Wickenheiser first recalls playing hockey on the rink her father built in Saskatchewan and joining Team Canada at age 15. She explains winning Gold at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City and at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. She also discusses joining a Finnish men’s team and the pressures of being an elite player.

Creator: Bruce Weir

© 2012, Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. All Rights Reserved.


Transcript

I started playing, growing up in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan. My dad and mom were teachers involved at the local rink so I was there a lot, and I asked my dad if I could play and they said yes and my dad built a rink in our backyard. I was 15 in my first World Championships in 1994, so I had the option of playing in another Canada Games or going to the National Team and my parents let me make that decision. And I chose the National Team and I’ve been there ever since.

I think I was nervous, I was excited. I was so young compared to all the other women on the team but they were so good at taking me under their wing and really teaching me about what it took to be a professional every day and what leadership was and what being a part of a winning program was all about. So I’m grateful to have that experience at such a young age.

<Announcer> Here’s Wickenheiser, Hayley Wickenheiser barrelling across the line. Wickenheiser drop passed, Cassie Campbell the short, scored!

There’s a lot of teams that I’ve been on, on these National Teams where I’d say that wow, we had a good group. But I would say the Vancouver team and just being a part of the Vancouver Olympics was special. Probably the Salt Lake win and that team was a team that had a lot of adversity but pulled it together when it needed to the most so probably the team with the most resilience. And those two sort of really stand out.

My decision to play pro was based on wanting to get better as a player and challenge myself. So coming out of the ’02 Olympics, you know people like Tom Renney and Bob Clark were the ones who sort of gave me the confidence to try it and we looked and I found a job in Finland initially, went over and played and it was an experience that made me better, kind of hardened me, made me more resilient in every way, on and off the ice and I knew that I had to be at my best whether it was a practice, a game, when I was playing against them just in order to compete. So that I think really taught me about being a professional every single day and helped me when I came back to the women’s game.

I think when people look at you as, you know being the best or one of the best it is a you know an expectation that they have but it also is an expectation I have on myself. The way I look at it is you’re really only as good as your last game or your last practice. Some days you are the best and some days you’re not. And so what keeps me going every day is just the challenge to get better as a player and to, every time I step on the ice, perform, so that if somebody’s in the stands and they’ve never seen women play hockey they go, “well there’s a pretty good hockey player,” or “there’s a good hockey team.” And I think that’s what drives me is sort of you know maybe a healthy fear of failure but at the same time an intense desire to want to be the best and want to win with our team as well.


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