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Monday, February 8, 2010

Hangin' with Haley

Of all the athletes to admire and aspire to be like, Haley Wickenheiser is in a class with few others. Today A & M and I headed out to the Vancouver International Airport to follow a lead that the 2010 Women's Olympic Hockey team was arriving. After a long wait, and much anticipation, it was worth the wait. The entire women's Olympic team arrived and signed a stick of A's and a smaller stick of M's.

At A's recent 13th birthday her goalie coach also gave her a stick with almost the entire 1998 Olympic Women's hockey teams' signatures. S/he was touched beyond words. It meant so much to her that another female athlete whom she admires would share such a special treasure with her. One of the only missing autographs was Haley Wickenheiser.

Today we got her to sign both sticks and pose with us for a photo!

For those who don't know who she is, I have included a brief biography. She, more than any other female athlete has broken down gender barriers in the arena of amateur and professional sport. She has proven, that your gender, simply does not matter when you have the love of the sport and the skill. What a woman to admire. I am so glad my kids got to meet her.

Three-time Olympic medalist, Hayley Wickenheiser is regarded as one of the best female hockey players in the world with an uncompromised determination and dedication to her sport. However, it’s not just her lethal slapshot that is respected by her teammates, fans and peers; Hayley is also an award winner, community leader, mentor, history-maker and an accomplished businesswoman.

It all started at age 15 in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan when Hayley was chosen for the Canadian Women’s National Team. She has since led the squad to six gold and one silver medals at the Women’s World Hockey Championships. As an Olympian, she earned a silver medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan and two gold medals at the Winter Olympics in 2002 and 2006. Accompanying all thathardware, Hayley was also named the tournaments' most valuable player in both victorious Olympic runs as well as in numerous Esso Women’s Hockey Championships.

Hayley Wickenheiser has proven to be an elite athlete time and time again. Sports Illustrated recently named her number 20 of the Top 25 Toughest Athletes in the World.(Read Article) She is also a two-time finalist for the Women’s Sports Foundation Team Athlete of The Year. In January 2003, Hayley made hockey history when she became the first female hockey player to notch a point in a men’s professional game with the Kirkkonummen Salamat of the Finnish second division. More recently, Wickenheiser played in Eskilstuna, Sweden with a men’s professional division-one hockey team for the 08-09 season.

Along with hockey, Wickenheiser has mastered a number of sports. An elite softball player, she participated in the 2000 Summer Olympics as a member of Team Canada and most recently worked as a Softball Analyst with CBC’s coverage of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

As you will hopefully recognize A and M are picture above to the left of Haley. She seemed happy to greet her fans, and the entire team took time to sign A's stick and offer words of support. What a great day!

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