One of the biggest names in women’s hockey, four-time gold medalist Hayley Wickenheiser, will be hitting the road for a charity street hockey game in Esquimalt.
Hosted by Country Grocer as part of its Islanders for Islanders summer campaign, the game will take place on July 1 in the rear parking lot of the Archie Browning Sport Centre from 4 to 6 p.m., following two games in Nanaimo and Cobble Hill.
Wickenheiser will be available for photos and autographs at the event, which will feature, along with street hockey, a barbecue and music.
The event is by donation, with proceeds going to Macaulay School.
The game marks Wickenheiser’s first visit to the Island since 2010, when she played in a lead-up game for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games against the U.S.
“I’m really excited to come out to the Island again,” Wickenheiser said. “It’s always fun to hear the stories and just see the kids. They always remind you of the fun of hockey and why we all started playing.”
Wickenheiser began her professional hockey career at the age of 15, when she was added to the national women’s team’s roster as a forward for the 1994 World Championship.
Since then, she’s risen to global prominence as part of Canada’s Olympic team, which she has played for since its introduction as a medal sport in 1998, when she helped Team Canada win the first silver medal. Wickenheiser was named alternate captain for the subsequent Olympic Games, and has helped lead Team Canada to the top of the podium four times, most recently in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games where she was also chosen to be the flag bearer during the opening ceremonies.
Her dedication to the national pastime was officially recognized in 2011, when she received the Order of Canada to commemorate her role in furthering women’s hockey around the globe.
Outside of the rink, Wickenheiser has been active in community outreach, particularly with youth. In 2007, she travelled to Rwanda alongside a team of Canadian Olympians with the athletics-based humanitarian organization Right to Play. She worked with the organization again in 2011, when she visited Ghana along with her son.
She’s also worked with youth through the organizations Spread the Net, KidSport, Classroom Champions, Clean Air Champions, and Because I am a Girl. Her most recent project is the Wickenheiser International Female Hockey Festival, which debuted in 2010 in Burnaby.
“I think it’s a big thing to encourage kids to dream and pursue something,” Wickenheiser said.
n KidSport – As well as raising funds for KidSport through the Wickenheiser International Female Hockey Festival, Wickenheiser has worked as a mentor at several of the organization’s community events.
n Plan Canada – Wickenheiser helped the organization launch the Because I am a Girl campaign, and currently serves as a spokesperson for their community sponsorship of Hatibhanda, Bangladesh.
n Spread the Net – After visiting Rwanda, Wickenheiser decided to become an ambassador for this organization, which aims to provide bug nets for malaria-stricken areas.
n Clean Air Champions – Alongside other athletes, Wickenheiser has participated in youth street hockey events, and promoted the organization’s agenda of healthy living and environmentalism as a spokesperson.