Wick­en­heiser joins the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame

The Southwest Booster - - FRONT PAGE - STEVEN MAH SOUTH­WEST BOOSTER

It may not have been the most high pro­file honour of her ca­reer, but Hay­ley Wick­en­heiser was still thrilled to be in­ducted into the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame close to her home­town of Shau­navon.

“It’s a big honour. I’ve re­ceived a lot of awards and ac­co­lades through my ca­reer, but this one is very spe­cial,” said Wick­en­heiser prior to the in­duc­tion ban­quet in Swift Cur­rent on July 7. “My heart is al­ways in Saskatchewan. I’ve lived in Al­berta for a long time, but I am still from Saskatchewan and it’s a very big part of where I started in hockey and my roots and the value sys­tem that I have. So be­ing able to come back and share this night with all the other in­ductees and have my par­ents here, it’s go­ing to be a fun night.”

The four-time Olympic gold medal­ist is widely con­sid­ered the great­est fe­male hockey player of all-time. Wick­en­heiser’s list of ac­co­lades in­cludes the Or­der of Canada and a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.

“I’ve had a lot of awards and this one is as im­por­tant to me as any of them. But I guess be­cause this is my home, I think maybe for peo­ple if they come to the Hall of Fame here and they see my dis­play and other fe­males, af­ter Fiona Smith and Colleen Sos­torics that went in a few years ago, it’s just nice to see more and more girls play­ing hockey.”

The cer­e­mony was a chance to re­flect on an il­lus­tri­ous hockey ca­reer that even passed through Swift Cur­rent.

“I re­mem­ber try­ing to get into a hockey school here in Swift Cur­rent when I was seven years old. My mom called many times and they said no and fi­nally on the last call she said I think this is more of a hu­man rights is­sue than it is a hockey is­sue and they let me in. I changed in the car. My dad would put my skates on in the rink. All the old farm­ers would come and be ‘I heard there’s a girl here,” she laughed. No one could fig­ure out who the girl was on the ice. It’s come a long ways from that point and I am happy to be able to come back un­der much bet­ter cir­cum­stances.”

Wick­en­heiser helped raise the pro­file of women’s hockey with four Olympic gold medals and even be­came the first women to score a goal in a semi-pro­fes­sional league in 2003 with HC Sala­mat in Suomi-sarja in Fin­land.

“There’s still lots of work of course that needs to be done,” she said when asked about the state of women’s hockey. “We’re not where I would want to see the game yet. It has in 30 years I guess since that mo­ment, I was just at Cana­dian Tire and there was lit­tle girls hockey play­ers walk­ing in all day long buy­ing equip­ment and talk­ing to me about their ex­pe­ri­ences, so it’s much eas­ier now. I think the next step is women’s pro­fes­sional hockey and that’s where we re­ally need to go.”

She re­mains grate­ful for the game of hockey that took her to Olympic Games in Canada, the United States, Italy, Ja­pan, and Rus­sia.

“Ev­ery­thing I have in life I owe to the game of hockey. It’s a chance to travel the world, an ed­u­ca­tion, my fam­ily, ev­ery­thing. I love the game. I think I’ll al­ways in some way be con­nected to the game. It’s hard to leave it once it’s in your blood. It re­ally has opened the doors for a lit­tle girl from Shau­navon, who maybe thought I didn’t know where hockey would take me. Now it lit­er­ally has taken me around the world and given me a chance to do things that I never would have done. I re­ally owe all my credit to the peo­ple in Shau­navon that helped me to get to where I am, my par­ents. Of course just this prov­ince that builds re­siliency in peo­ple. I am very proud to be from Saskatchewan.”

Wick­en­heiser, who is pur­su­ing a ca­reer in medicine, re­cently spent a week coach­ing at the Toronto Maple Leafs de­vel­op­ment camp.

“I’ll try to com­bine hockey and medicine the best I can mov­ing for­ward. Coach­ing, right now I’m not sure if it’s in my fu­ture. It’s a big full time job to be coach­ing, but maybe even­tu­ally I can start in player de­vel­op­ment and see where that goes.”

BOOSTER PHOTO/STEVEN MAH

Hay­ley Wick­en­heiser was in­ducted into the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame dur­ing a cer­e­mony in Swift Cur­rent ear­lier this sum­mer.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.