Hockey star and five-time Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser is not only one of the greatest female hockey players of all time, she’s an advocate for youth sport organizations and single mom to 13 year old Noah. Wickenheiser and her teammates on Canada’s National Women’s Hockey Team are busy training up to 10 hours a day for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. We caught up with the trail blazing Calgarian in Montreal.
CF: How did you get your start in hockey?
HW: My dad built a rink in the backyard for my younger brother and sister and me, and that’s where we learned. I was the only girl playing on boys’ teams in my small town of Shaunavon, Sask.
CF: Does your son, Noah, play?
HW: He doesn’t like hockey. He’s in cadets, he coaches swimming and he plays piano. When I put him in skates for the first time, he cried, so I knew right there and then it was over.
CF: How do you two stay connected when you’re away?
HW: We FaceTime or text. Well, I text and he answers one word back!
CF: As the Olympics approach, does Noah get more interested?
HW: No, the only thing he’s interested in about Sochi is that he really wants to see the Kremlin. He’s very interested in military history. In Vancouver he brought a Harry Potter book to the gold medal game.
CF: Do you think Canada is supportive enough of amateur athletics?
HW: I remember being in Sydney in 2000 and seeing an image of swimmer Ian Thorpe running the height of a skyscraper. And I thought,‘The day we see an athlete displayed like that in downtown Toronto will be a great day.’ We love the NHL, but out- side of that we’re not too passionate about any sport. But I do think Canadians love the Olympics and they support it; it’s just very last minute.
CF: There’s been a lot of attention paid to Russia’s position on gay rights. How do you feel about it?
HW: Nobody has a right to tell someone how to live their life that way. The Olympics are a great way to make a peaceful protest against it.
CF: What would you say to moms who struggle to carve out time for exercise?
HW: You can always make time. Even if it’s 15 or 20 minutes, or if you have to multi-task while you do it. It’s the old oxygen mask thing: You’ve got to put it on yourself before you can help anybody else.
CF: You recently completed a bachelor of science. What’s next?
HW: I’ve applied to med school for September, post Sochi, so if I got in then that would be a decision I’d have to make.
CF: Last question coffee or tea?
HW: Coffee, lots of it.
Follow along with Hayley in Sochi on Twitter @wick_22