It was a beautiful afternoon in Canmore when I approached a group of campers playing basketball outside the high school. As I like to do at the end of each week, I casually asked the group of 10 – 13 year olds what their favorite part of the week was, and was shocked by their response. “The lecture” replied one girl immediately. “Yeah! The lecture on Tuesday with Caroline Ouellette.” replied another. Meeting an idol like Caroline Ouellette can be exciting for sure, but this week of camp in the rockies included 15 hours of on-ice instruction from some of the worlds best female players, fun games on and off the ice, nature hikes along the Bow River, a camp talent contest and even some white water rafting. What on earth did Caro talk about that trumped all of that? “She told us about how important it is to work hard in school so we can play at a good University.” they told me. Now that’s confusing!
My realization that I don’t understand kids notwithstanding, the story made me think about the grander issue at play. As a director of Just for Girls hockey camps, I’m constantly doing comparisons between the girls and guys hockey and one thing I’ve noticed this year separates the two completely, and it’s about giving back. The best female players make a point of giving back to the sport that gives them notoriety and the best example is Caroline Ouellette, or Caro as she’s known by her teammates.
3 Olympic Golds, 5 World Championships, 2 Clarkson Cups and an astounding NCAA career that leaves her 10th in all-time scoring. There’s nothing Caroline has to prove to anyone at this point, she’ll go down as one of the best to ever play, and yet she’s still so driven. As I arrived in Canmore to set up the camp, she was biking 125 km with 300 others to raise money for Right to Play. The next day she was on the ice instructing, but taking time after practice to pose for some photos and sign some autographs. You’d think with a resume like hers she’d tell people about all the great things she’s done, but instead, she talks about the kids; their future and the importance of education.
Caro is just one example in a sea of motivating and inspiring people that compete in ladies hockey. Where the high level men tend to hide in their mansions and on their private golf courses, the ladies are out there each summer, teaching, mentoring, and helping to grow the sport that they themselves created. By sharing their love for the game with the campers, they’re ensuring the future of women’s hockey and I can tell you for sure that it’s only going to get better.
Canadian Hockey Enterprises