Olympic Hopefuls - Hockey
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skaters, all of whom should be an inspiration to women the province–if not the country–over.
he National Women’s Hockey Team is a source of pride for women, respected
by men, and perhaps the coolest show of girl-power for any young girl in the sport.
While it is the men who get the glory, and the money,
in professional hockey, Canadian female players have shown their skill on the ice in international play.
Three Manitobans currently play on the national team: Winnipeg’s Jennifer Botterill, Pilot Mound’s Delaney Collins and Jocelyne Larocque of St. Anne.
In preparation for the upcoming Games the team is undergoing intense training: six days a week involving games, on-ice practices, cardio workouts, core workouts and weights. “We play many games, usually about two to four per week,” says Larocque. “Our schedule is very intense to prepare for the Olympics.”
Botterill has made the cut to play on Team Canada three times over her 12-year career on the national team, but for both Collins and Larocque this will be their first time heading to the Games if they make the team's final roster.
“The biggest challenge for me has been that every day is a tryout. We are all trying our hardest to make the Olympic roster and there is a lot on the line for each of us,” explains Larocque. Botterill echoes that sentiment: “Our biggest challenge would be to make the roster and to deal with our intense and demanding
training schedule. The journey is one that will push our limits, but has the potential to be incredibly rewarding.”
Each of these three women feels that being a Manitoban has had a great impact on their sporting career. “Being a Manitoban gave me every opportunity to play sports as a kid and ultimately play on Team Canada!” exclaims Collins.
“I have always been proud to be from Manitoba,” says Botterill. “The province provided me with a great place to grow and develop as a young athlete. All of the outdoor ice certainly helped as well! I was fortunate enough to have excellent coaches growing up, who helped start my career. There are so many great people in our province.” Larocque chimes in on the same note, “Manitoba gave me the opportunity to represent my province at various Nationals and tournaments which gave me the ability to play with and against elite female hockey players.”
Training and living in other cities and provinces makes trips home to Manitoba few and far between. “I miss the friendliness of being in Manitoba and being surrounded by people that care so much about the local athletes,” says Collin's. Botterill feels much the same, “I miss the people the most. Everyone at home is so supportive and truly friendly.”
The athletes have some sound advice for anyone wanting to follow the path to the Olympics: “I would encourage them to believe in themselves. It is important to have big dreams… and to enjoy the great opportunity to play sports,” Botterill says. “Never give up. Even if you get cut from a team or someone tells you that you’ll never make it. Growing up I got cut from many teams, but I knew that with hard work I could get better,” reflects Laroque. Collins adds: “Work harder than anyone else you know… and then work even harder.”