Hayley Wickenheiser calls end to gold-plated career


Mowich
#1


When Hayley Wickenheiser sees girls dragging hockey bags into arenas, she feels a sense of accomplishment.

The normalcy of girls playing hockey is what she sweated for, fought for, and shed tears for.

When Wickenheiser started playing 33 years ago, there were no girls' teams. She played with boys and wasn't always welcomed by players or their parents.

"The greatest stride's been made in the acceptance of girls playing the game," says Wickenheiser. "Any little girl in this country can walk into a hockey rink and no one is going to think twice or look twice. There's female hockey change rooms in a lot of rinks now."

"I remember when I was a kid, I hid in the bathroom and tucked my hair up so no one would know I was a girl. I just went through hell really, to play. Girls don't have to go through hell anymore to play hockey."

The fact that female hockey has arrived at this stage puts some soothing balm on the difficult decision to end her playing career.

The country's all-time leading scorer announced her retirement Friday after 23 years on the Canadian women's team and almost a dozen Olympic and world championship gold medals.

"Dear Canada. It has been the great honour of my life to play for you. Time to hang em up!! Thank you!" Wickenheiser posted on her Twitter account.

Not only was Wickenheiser a star in women's hockey when the game desperately needed one, she changed perceptions of what women are capable of in sport.

The 38-year-old from Shaunavon, Sask., told The Canadian Press in a sometimes tearful interview she didn't want to postpone her entrance into medical school any longer.

"It has been the greatest honour of my life to play for Canada," Wickenheiser said. "I'll miss it."

The number of registered female players in Canada went from 16,000 in her first year on the national team to almost 87,000 today.

Bob Nicholson, who was Hockey Canada's president and chief executive officer during most of Wickenheiser's career, said she played a big role in giving "girls the dreams that boys had."

"Her record speaks for itself winning so many gold medals, but in years to come, the biggest memory will be how she inspired so many girls to play the game," said Nicholson, now CEO of Oilers Entertainment Group. "She always was harder on herself than any of her teammates and pushed herself to excellence."

Her forays into men's professional hockey in Finland and Sweden set new standards on how much a woman can be pushed physically. She played a combined 65 men's pro games in Europe.

Her decision to play with and against men wasn't unanimously supported at home. Some female teammates believed she should stay in Canada and help grow women's leagues here.

But Wickenheiser made choices she felt would make her a better player, which meant leaving her comfort zones.

She trained in her off-seasons with NHL players, making headlines skating in Philadelphia Flyers rookie camps when she was in her early 20s.

"I'm comfortable being uncomfortable," Wickenheiser said.

Danielle Goyette said Wickenheiser was a driven woman when they were linemates on the national team and when Goyette coached her at the University of Calgary.

"She's the kind of athlete that never took 'no' for an answer," Goyette said. "What I mean by that is she wants to push the limits of women's hockey.

"She didn't have to [train] with guys, but she always tried to train with somebody stronger than her to make sure that she's pushing herself to the max.

"She went to Europe and played hockey with the men, full-body contact. I don't know a lot of girls who would put themselves through that."

Much more

Hayley Wickenheiser calls end to gold-plated career - Hockey - CBC

Sad to see her go but happy that she will finally be able to pursue her career in medicine. All the best Hayley........be seeing you in the highlights.










 
bill barilko
+1
#2  Top Rated Post
She's a hero that's for sure.
 
Mowich
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by bill barilkoView Post

She's a hero that's for sure.

I was happy to hear that she will be keeping a hand in hockey, mentoring up and coming new players which is great news as she is a true inspiration.
 
Jinentonix
+1
#4
What an amazing person and a fantastic career. IIRC she's won 4 Olympic golds and 7 World Championships. We've come a long way from the day the City of Winnipeg threatened a minor hockey league with being shut down if they didn't let a girl play, and Hayley had a lot to do with that.
I love the fact that boys and girls are not only getting to enjoy the game/sport at an organized level, but the sport is crossing cultures as well. For example, it's pretty cool to see girls of East Indian heritage playing organized hockey in Canada.
 
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