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In addition to being a mother, a hockey player and an ambassador, Hayley is also a writer – check out her book, Gold Medal Diary: Inside the World's Greatest Sports Event. Here you are going to hear from your hockey heroine on everything from her latest hockey adventures with Team Canada, to events and encounters with her peers and celebrities and family life. She'll also provide opinions, comments or general reactions to things happening in the International arena with regard to hockey. Or, if you are curious about her road to the Sochi Olympics, check out the Sochi Bound pages!

In her own words, Hayley is connecting to her fans one blog post at a time...


Why put your kids in sports??
…there’s more to it than just getting active!
 
Blogs usually provide an outlet for us contributors to share or teach about something we know a lot about—but in this blog I want to share with you about what I’ve recently been reminded of from a group of about 1,200 girls from all across the world.
 
From November 21-24 the Wickenheiser Female World Hockey Festival was held at WinSport in Calgary, AB. And yes, this is my yearly hockey tournament with all proceeds going to Right to Play and KidsSport, but this blog isn’t a shameless plug about the tournament (but if you are a young girl who plays hockey, make sure to come out next year!). However, it was at the festival that I was reminded about why I really believe having our kids in some type of sport is so beneficial.  
 
These young girls amazed me by not only their level of play, but by their spirit—that’s what really got my attention. Over the course of the weekend, I saw examples both on and off the ice of how these girls are growing to become not just great hockey players, but supporters, encouragers, testers, and risk-takers. They also helped each other push beyond their own limits—and surprise themselves! Your teammates always know who is working the hardest on the team and who isn’t. The cool thing is, it wasn’t the coaches or the parents who were stretching the kids past their abilities, it was their own peers.
 
Sport does more for kids than keep them active or out of trouble. Sport helps our kids develop into individuals who have integrity, the ability to be taught and the ability to fail (that’s a hard lesson but an important one). Sport also helps build self-esteem and respect for others. These are two vital character traits that I think are really lacking in our culture today—we see it first hand on the playground! Girls especially battle the self-esteem monster and need to know how amazing they are for who they are—and who better to build them up than other girls on their team?
 
Some of the teams this weekend were matched against teams who were honestly way better than them. Unfortunately, scheduling upsets happen. I asked some of the girls what they thought about that (I already heard what the parents thought!) and you know how they responded? They said how amazing it was to be able to play with girls who were that good. They felt honoured to have even been on the ice with them. WOW! Instead of complaining or calling it unfair, they instead looked at the opportunity that was right in front of them.
 
I always say that one of the best ways to get better is to watch those that are better than you—and then go and do what they do. These girls had a chance even better than a front row seat!
 
Sport gives our kids the chance to achieve things they never thought possible—who knew that one day there would actually be a professional level women’s hockey league. It didn’t exist when I was 15 but I dreamed it would and that dream became a reality. If my parents or my teammates or my coaches ever told me it wouldn’t happen, would I be where I am today?
  



What a Weekend!

Wow! That’s all I can say—what an amazing weekend! The Wickenheiser Female World Hockey Festival was such an amazing success. The teams that came out really showed what they were made of:  determination, playfulness and above all, the love for the game. Honestly, nothing is more encouraging than seeing you girls excited about the hockey.
 
Outside of some really great hockey, the players, parents, coaches and even some volunteers got a chance to learn more about themselves and the game through the many off-ice sessions, interaction with other teams (many from other countries) and listening to Hockey Legends in the Hot Stove Lounge.
 
There were some amazing stories that came out of this weekend (for reflections from our resident blogger, check out the Blog2013 page on wickhockey.com). What comes to mind is the story of how one of our Mexican players' luggage got lost on the way over—including her equipment. Another girl from Winnipeg was able to lend her equipment until it finally arrived from the airport. And subsequently another player had lost her shin pads, so the player from Mexico lent her her newly found gear. These full-circle stories really show how amazing sport is for teaching girls how to look out for one another, support even your competitors and think about more than just winning the game.

 
This Festival has grown so much since its inception four years ago and I’m excited to see what next year holds!! 
 



WICKFEST is this weekend!!!

The Canadian Tire Wickenheiser World Female Hockey Festival takes place this weekend, November 21-24, 2013. I am so excited about this festival and even more excited this year because it has come to my hometown!! This year the tournament officially sold out on September 25th, less than one month after we started accepting applications. The tournament runs all weekend at the Markin MacPhail Centre located at WinSport's Canada Olympic Park.
 
We have teams from all over the world coming to Calgary—teams from Finland, Mexico, Montana, Newfoundland, the Yukon, the North West Territories, Manitoba, BC and of course, from all across Alberta are arriving and gearing up for a great tournamnet. I really am overwhelmed by the excitement and energy that these girls and their teams are bringing to the tournament. And it’s really cool to have them come to my home ice where I practice with Team Canada while we train for Sochi.
 
The other thing that I’m excited about is that 100% of the proceeds from this event are donated to Right To Play and JumpStart, two organizations very close to my heart. These nonprofits are dedicated to helping kids from around the world have the opportunity to participate in sports. 

So if you are in Calgary and want to see some great hockey, come out to WinSport and cheer these teams on!
 


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