Giving back to the game

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Carla MacLeod explains a drill as 2018 Olympic silver medalist Emily Clark watches on during the second day of the North Female Hockey Program at the Art Hauser Centre (Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald)

Olympians Clark and MacLeod take part in P.A. hockey camp

They’ve represented their country on sports’ biggest stage.

Now as members of Canada’s Women’s National Hockey Team, Olympians Carla MacLeod and Emily Clark are eager to help the next generation of players work towards their dreams.

MacLeod, who is now the head coach for the female prep program at the Edge School in Calgary, and Clark, who is preparing for her senior season with the NCAA’s Wisconsin Badgers, were the guest instructors at the Art Hauser Centre Tuesday for the fourth annual North Female Hockey Program.

“We’ve both benefited from the players that have been on the national team that have given back to the game,” MacLeod said. “Judy Diduk was at camps I was at when I was younger, and then players like Dana Antal and Kelly Bechard have followed in their footsteps. We are just continuing that trend.”

“I just want to be able help and inspire them to reach their goals,” added Clark, who is from Saskatoon. “With everyone here being from all over Saskatchewan, my main message was to tell the girls that no matter where you are from, you can accomplish your dreams.”

In addition to leading players through on-ice drills, MacLeod and Clark also stressed the importance of teamwork during off-ice discussions.

“That’s something we also talked a lot about when we met with the Prince Albert Northern Bears Monday night,” Clark said. “Being a good teammate is the biggest thing that you can do no matter what age you are and no matter what it is that you are doing.

“Hopefully the impact that we can make with the girls is beyond hockey. Part of the message that we’ve given is about our journeys, but there’s not much in it that involves hockey and training. A lot of it has to do with just being a good person and working hard to go further into whatever your life goal is.”

With MacLeod winning a pair of gold medals in 2006 and 2010 in Turin, Italy and Vancouver respectively, while Clark captured a silver medal in Pyeongchang, South Korea in February, the pair also took the time to discuss their experiences at the Winter Olympics.

“For the younger kids, many of them were born during the 2010 Olympics, so that’s something that’s a bit farther off in the distance for them,” MacLeod said. “However, the older group was a lot more inquisitive about what it takes to get there.

“We told them that just because you see someone on TV at the Olympics, their path to the event is no different from what they do. They’ve all worked hard to pursue their goal. It’s also important for them to have the passion to reach that dream and to have fun along the way. If that’s not there, the journey won’t be as enjoyable.”

Former Saskatchewan Huskies head coach Robin Ulrich, Notre Dame Midget Female Hounds head coach Tegan Schroeder also served as coaches at the camp, along with Bears alumni Jessica Vance, Morgan Willoughby and Brooke Hobson.