When Hayley Wickenheiser expressed a desire to play ice hockey at an early age, her father (a keen player himself) built an ice rink in the backyard of their family home in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan. It paid off. From the age of five, Wickenheiser was playing minor hockey on boys’ teams, and at 15 became a member of Canada’s national women’s team. Today, she is the team’s all-time leading scorer in goals and assists and revered as one of the best female ice hockey players in the world.
In 2003, Wickenheiser made history by becoming the first female player to score a point in a men’s professional game with the Kirkkonummen Salamat of the Finnish second division. For the 2008-09 season, she played with a men’s professional division-one team in Eskilstuna, Sweden.
In Olympic competition, Wickenheiser has led her team to four Gold and one Silver medal, and at the 2014 games in Sochi she was flag bearer for Team Canada at the opening ceremonies. It may come as a surprise to some that she has also competed at the Summer Olympics, playing softball at the 2000 games in Sydney.
Wickenheiser’s dedication to sport is also evident off the rink, and she is involved in several organizations that help kids get involved in sport – including JumpStart, KidSport, Project North, and Right to Play. She also hosts the annual Wickenheiser World Female Hockey Festival, affectionately known as WickFest. Now in its seventh year, the festival allows young women to engage in world-class competition, make friends from around the world and improve their hockey skills. All profits are donated to JumpStart and Right to Play. In 2014, she was elected to the International Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission.
For her achievements as an athlete and her contributions to the growth of women’s hockey, Wickenheiser has been appointed to the Order of Canada, recognized with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, twice named among the Globe and Mail’s Power 50 influencers in sport, and inducted to Canada’s Walk of Fame. This spring, she received an honorary degree from UBC.
Wickenheiser is currently pursuing her master’s at the University of Calgary, researching the connection between physical activity and the neurology of autistic youth, and afterwards plans to enter the field of medicine. She’s also set her sights on playing at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Follow Wickenheiser on Twitter @wick_22.
What is your most prized possession?
My bicycles. I have a few.
Who was your childhood hero?
Describe the place you most like to spend time.
My place in BC.
What was the last thing you read?
A gastro-intestinal textbook, lol.
What or who makes you laugh out loud?
What’s the most important lesson you ever learned?
Life is like a roller coaster… Never get too high or low in life.
What’s your idea of the perfect day?
Get up early, train, coffee, hit the water and chill, maybe go for a ride, spend time with friends and family.
What was your nickname at school?
What would be the title of your biography?
Gongshow: life on the frozen water
If a genie granted you one wish, what would it be?
What is your latest purchase?
Bought a new road bike this summer, after 15 years on my old one.
Whom do you most admire (living or dead) and why?
So many people, but those who just live with passion and go after their dreams in life.
What would you like your epitaph to say?
“Made a difference for others, had a good time doing it!”
If you could invent something, what would it be?
Teleportation… I loathe travelling!
In which era would you most like to have lived, and why?
In the 1940s with my son, Noah, who I am sure lived a past life then — he is such an old soul.
What are you afraid of?
As a parent, I think you fear your children will die before you do… otherwise not much else.
Name the skill or talent you would most like to have.
To play a mean guitar.
Which three pieces of music would you take to that desert island?
U2, my son’s piano recital recordings, and some chill mixes.
Which famous person (living or dead) do you think (or have you been told) you most resemble?
Ha! I have never been told that. No idea.
What is your pet peeve?
In airports when people move right up to the luggage belt. Like, stand behind the line –there is room for everyone!!!