Sochi gold medallist relives historic win
Women's hockey: Jocelyne Larocque guest speaker at Midget provincials
Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014 10:48 am
One of the architects of the greatest comeback in Olympic women’s hockey history had a straightforward message for the next generation in the sport.
Never give up on anything.
Jocelyne Larocque, Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games gold medallist, spoke to the determination needed to overcome a 2-0 deficit to Team U.S.A. to win 3-2 in overtime and capture the hearts of Canadians coast-to-coast as the guest speaker at the Midget A Female provincials in Okotoks.
“The only time I was freaking out was when the puck was trickling into the open net and hitting the post,” said Larocque at the provincial banquet, Friday at the Foothills Centennial Centre. “Other than that, even with five-minutes left, four minutes left, I had the confidence that we could comeback. Everyone on our bench was calm because it’s never over until it’s over.
“That’s a great lesson for everyone whether in hockey or outside of hockey. We had the confidence we could comeback and with hard work we did.”
After all, defying the odds is nothing new for Larocque, a native of small town Ste. Anne, Manitoba.
Her Olympic dreams were lit after watching the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano – the inaugural women’s hockey tournament on the Olympic stage. However, growing up in a town of 1,500, the 25-year-old was something of a late-bloomer on the ice.
“I didn’t make the A-team until I was 13, I was the last player on my team to be able to do crossovers, the last one to be able to skate backwards, to raise the puck, last one to be able to do a proper slapshot,” Larocque said. “I had a lot of work to do.
“I would go on the outdoor rink before and after practice. I would shoot four or five buckets of pucks in my garage every night because I knew I needed to be able to shoot a wristshot in order to make the Olympic team.”
Steady improvement saw the blueliner finally make her local A-team at the age of 13 before successfully skating her way on to the Calgary Oval X-treme, a Senior women’s team with the likes of Cassie Campbell-Pascall and Hayley Wickenheiser, at just 16 years of age.
From there, Larocque earned her way to NCAA hockey with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs where she carved out one of the best careers in program history, winning national titles in 2008 and 2010.
The all-time leading scorer among Bulldogs defencemen, Larocque made the most of her senior year in 2011 where she was first-team All American, defensive player of the year and outstanding student-athlete of the year while completing her bachelor of accounting degree.
Not that everything came up roses for the fleet-footed rearguard.
It was during her days as a Bulldog where Larocque endured the toughest time in the sport after being left off the Canadian roster for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.
“I was devastated. It was a dream of mine and that dream got taken away,” she said. “At the time I felt like a failure, I thought I let myself down and my family down, but after a few weeks of reflection I realized I wasn’t a failure.”
“In my opinion there are two ways to succeed. One by achieving your dreams, but another by working your hardest and leaving it all on the line. It’s easy to try and take the easy way out of situations and to make excuses, but having the courage to leave it all on the line when you aren’t guaranteed anything is something to be proud of.”
Four years later, Larocque found both kinds of success as she landed a coveted spot on the Canadian blueline headed to Sochi and the rest, as they, is history.
All thanks to identifying her goals and pursuing them without compromise.
“You’re the only person that knows what your dreams are, you’re the only person that can discover your passion and the only one that can put in the work to achieve your goals,” she said. “It requires a lot of hard work, dedication, a never-give-up attitude to get there, but as long as you give it everything you have, love what you do, enjoy the process and have fun you’ll be a success.”