The Lightning and the Olympian

Les rêves de jouer au hockey au niveau olympique n’est plus seulement que pour les gars. L’équipe féminine canadienne d’hockey olympique ont été, dans les dernières années, des récipiendaires de médailles d’Or. Une des joueuses de l’équipe, Christine Labonté, a visité Rockland juste avant le début de la saison. Elle a rencontré le Lightning et a inspiré une nouvelle génération d’héroïne du hockey canadien. Christine Labonté, entouré de la nouvelle génération de potentielle star du hockey féminin, les Lightning de Clarence-Rockland. —photos Gregg Chamberlain

in yourself.” Labonté joined the U18 Québec junior team training camp. Then a college team coach asked her to sub in as a goalie. That was lesson two: always, always do your best even if you think no one pays attention. “You never know who’s watching.” Lesson three: be disciplined, always be professional on the ice and off. “There are lots of things in sports you can’t control,” she added. “What you can control is your attitude. So control what you can. Always be the very best version of yourself.” At 17, Labonté joined Team Canada’s junior squad, then, four years later, the se- nior squad. She began living her childhood Olympic dreams: Salt Lake City 2002, as third-starting goalie; Turin 2006, starting goalie at age 23; Vancouver 2010 then Sochi 2014. Four Olympic gold medal moments for Labonté and her Team Canada family. One of the hardest lessons, she told the Lightning, was during the 2010 Games when complications forced her onto the bench. She couldn’t play but she could still support her teammates, doing coffee runs or just being a cheerleader during their games, and that is what she did. “It’s so important to be a good person,” she mentioned, adding that lesson three is all about being there for others and not just yourself. Lesson four ties in with that because when the teamwins, everyone wins, but only if everyone is doing all they can, the best they can, and not holding back or ducking out. “Success is a constant effort,” Labonté admitted, adding that her high school years


Olympic hockey dreams aren’t just for the guys anymore. Canada’s Olympic women’s hockey teamhas been a gold-medal favou- rite for several years now and one of the star players paid a visit to Rockland, just before the start of the season, for a meet- and-greet with the Lightning and to help inspire the next generation of Canada’s hockey heroes. “Seize the moment,” Charline Labon- té told a bleacher-full of players from the Clarence-Rockland Lightning girls’ hockey club, their parents, and others. “There is this moment, and the next moment. Each one is a test.” That was the first of what Labonté called “the life lessons of hockey” she learned as a hockey-loving girl. Ringuette first, then hockey, provided her not just with an outlet for her energy but also a way tomake friends. “I was a very shy kid,” she said. “My pa- rents were both artists, so they knewnothing about sports. But they wanted to put me in sports so I could make friends and develop my social skills.” It also kick-started her dreamof what she wanted to do when she grew up. Her dreams became Olympian even though there wasn’t a lot of encouragement for that. “You kids are so lucky today,” Labonté said. “There was no (organized) women’s hockey when I grew up. So, the first lesson I learned back then is that sometimes people don’t believe in you. You’ve got to believe

saw her sluffing through classes with below- averagemarks because all she wanted to do was play hockey. Then she realized there is no money in women’s pro hockey. At least not yet.That’s when her Olympic dream started sharing space with a dream of going to McGill Uni- versity, where she played on the university women’s team while pursuing her bacher- lor’s andmaster’s degrees in education and

sports psychology. “Push your limits,” Labonté reminded. “And be a good teammate. Hockey is not what we do. It’s what we are.” Her last life lesson was directed at the parents of every child involved in sports or other activity. “Let themplay. It’s a game. It’s supposed to be fun. Let themplay. Let themhave fun, and always support them.”

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