2017Oct 30

A Big Heart From Hearst- Amelie Samson

NAmelieot many athletes make it out of Hearst (my hometown).  To paint you a picture it is a six hour drive north of Sudbury, and has roughly 5,000 people. If you asked someone from Toronto about Hearst they would think you’re talking about another planet.

Although Hearst is a small town I would still consider it a ‘hockey hotbed’. After all it is Claude Giroux’s hometown, and where my sister and I learned how to play hockey. I laced up my first pair of skates when I was two years old. Believe it or not they were not hockey skates, but figure skates. I skated until sixth grade then decided to make the jump to hockey, the sport which my sister had been playing her whole life. My dad lives and breathes hockey and didn’t care much about my figure skating career. He was always with my sister helping her improve until I made the switch. He was so happy, and became instantly consumed, while I fell instantly in love. He pushed both my sister and I to be the best we could be. My dad was so crazy about hockey he made me wake up before school to shoot pucks and practice.

Growing up I had mostly played with boys, but knew I would have to transition to playing with girls if I wanted to go somewhere in hockey. Going into the twelfth grade I decided to try out for the Midget Lady Wolves in Sudbury. I made it. I was lucky because my Aunt lived in Sudbury so I stayed with her. The transition was easy, however the biggest challenge switching to girls hockey was staying confident. In Hearst I was always seen as the best girl playing with the boys. When I made the Lady Wolves all the girls were equal if not better than me so it made me doubt myself at times. I found it hard to stay confident, but had learned to overcome it, especially at the university level. My year with the Lady Wolves was successful all round. We won the Esso Cup (National Championship), which was my coolest hockey experience to date. The tournament was hosted in Red Deer, and was televised nationally. Such a surreal experience knowing you’re on TSN!  That same year I was being watched closely by the assistant coach of the Laurentian Voyageurs women’s team (Willy Montpellier). He liked the tenacious style of game I played. My dream was to play at the university level once I realized I could keep up with the boys. I knew I could do it.

My dad always advised me to dIMG_1078o just school because he saw how much I hated it growing up, and thought I would struggle balancing it with sports. Not only that, but my sister was a true scholar who loved school so I was constantly compared to her. While she went away to pursue hockey and academics at the University of Ottawa I was faced with the same decision. I looked into NCAA, but knew it was an unrealistic goal. Since I am bilingual my two options for university in Ontario were the University of Ottawa, and Laurentian University. I was always interested in living in Ottawa, but the thought of playing plus going to school with my sister made me sick to my stomach. I didn’t want to compete with her. The decision was easy once the Laurentian coaching staff  showed interest in me. They took notice to the little parts of my game that made me a good player. Once I was accepted into Kinesiology at Laurentian I never looked back. To this day I believe I would not be successful in school without hockey. Having hockey forces me to be on top of my work, and stay focused. After my first year of school I proved to my parents that I could succeed in school while playing. I am now in my third year of school, and my role continues to grow on the team. My passion is hockey, so why not add school into the mix.

Seeing as there are only two female university athletes to make it out of Hearst (my sister and I), I am very thankful to be where I am. When I am older I wish to move back and become involved with youth athletes in the community. I would like to work for a chiropractor, but my end goal is to eventually open a hockey training facility in Hearst similar to RHP in Sudbury to push girls to get to my level and further.




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