Busy playing hockey – what a life

Caroline Ouellette is a busy woman. In only seven regular season games with the Concordia Stingers Women’s Ice Hockey team this season, she racked up twelve goals and seven assists. She was part of the reason the Stingers came out on top in Quebec, and fourth overall in Canada.
In addition to playing forward with the Concordia Stingers, the Montreal native
divides her time between National Women’s Hockey League team Montreal Wingstar
and Team Canada. Ouellette has spent almost all her time so far this year on the ice with one of her three teams.
Caroline was remarkably unassuming for one of the country’s best hockey players when she had a moment to meet me before the last regular season Wingstar game.
“For sure I had to sacrifice a bit of my social life but it’s a sacrifice you have to make to be better,” said Ouellette. “It was good to be on the ice every day.”
Another thing she had to sacrifice was playing with the Wingstar in the NWHL playoffs in order to represent her country. Team Canada assembled in Toronto on March 26 for a week of practice before the Women’s World Hockey Championships in Minneapolis, Minnesota April 2-8.
Ouellette will help the Canadian women defend their unblemished record in international play. They have won the gold medal every year since the women’s world tournament was created in 1995.
However, she almost became a baseball player. The twenty-one year-old started rounding the bases when she was eight, though she was a big Canadiens fan.
“At first, my father said hockey was too rough and a man’s sport. So my mom bought me my first pair of hockey skates when I was ten,” said Ouellette.
She spent most of the next seven years playing hockey on boys’ teams.
“But now both my parents are at all my games. I couldn’t have gotten where I am today if they weren’t there one hour before and after hockey practices, and taking me to hockey school in the summer.”
After the world championships, everything’s up in the air for Ouellette. The sociology student has already taken the entrance exam to become a police officer with the Montreal force. She’s also considering moving to Calgary in August to practice with Team Canada for a few months before the Salt Lake City Olympics.
If Ouellette makes it on the force, she wonders how accommodating the police will be of her crazy schedule, noting that half the Canadian Women’s Hockey team had lost their jobs by the end of the Nagano Olympics.
Though the Wingstar are a professional team, the players are not compensated, and government support is difficult for most of the women on Team Canada to live on. But Ouellette wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Team USA trains together almost eight months of the year. Girls who are 15-17 quit high school, and that’s not so good. Team Canada considered such a move but the players didn’t want to. They knew they wouldn’t get their jobs back after two years away. Here the emphasis is on personal training.”
With players like Ouellette in the lineup, there’s no doubt that women’s hockey
will continue to grow in popularity. She has averaged over two and a half points a game in her three years with Wingstar. Anyone who doubts whether women’s hockey is as exciting as men’s needs to get themselves to a NWHL game.
She never gets too tired of playing hockey, though she may not enjoy all the perks of a male player of her caliber. If there was a NWHL comparable to the National Hockey League, Ouellette would be in it.
“Oh yeah, if I could play hockey for a living I would. When I was ten I dreamed of playing in the NHL with the men, when I didn’t know that wasn’t possible.”
So far, the schedule doesn’t seem to be getting to her. Team Canada had two exhibition matches last week in Toronto to warm up for the World Championships this week. On March 28, Canada defeated Finland 8-1. Two days later, Canada
beat Germany 5-0. Ouellette had two goals against Germany.
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