By: Hamilton Bulldogs
03/19/2014 9:56 AM -
HAMILTON, ONTARIO - Meghan Agosta-Marciano and fellow members of the Canadian women’s national ice hockey team have become household names since winning their fourth straight (third straight for Agosta-Marciano) gold medal at the Winter Olympic Games, most recently at the 2014 Games this past February in Sochi, Russia.
Agosta-Marciano’s Olympic journey started in 2006 as an 18-year-old playing on Team Canada in Turin, Italy with Cassie Campbell-Pascall, her idol, leading the way as captain. After winning her first Olympic gold there, Agosta-Marciano joined Team Canada again at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia and helped the squad earn gold on home soil. She also received the distinction of Most Valuable Player for the tournament.
Four years later, Agosta-Marciano wondered how she and her team could top what happened in Vancouver. Then, this February in Sochi, Team Canada defied all odds beating Team U.S.A. 3-2 in overtime in the gold medal game after being down 2-0 with five minutes left in regulation. Since returning home, the 27-year-old is still taking it all in.
“This time around it was very different,” she said. “We’ve gone through a lot more adversity, with close teammates being cut and our coach basically resigning two months before the Olympics, then having a new coach [Kevin Dineen] come in. We’ve been through so much this year and I think it made us stronger as a team. I’m so proud and honoured to represent Canada.”
A major turning point in the gold medal game in Sochi was when Team U.S.A. hit the post on an empty Canadian net in the dying seconds of regulation. Shortly after, Canada tied the game and forced overtime.
“There were times when we thought we couldn’t push anymore, but we could,” said Agosta-Marciano. “I think that showed us as a team and as individuals how far we can be pushed and the outcome that we could get. Never giving up, believing in ourselves, and knowing that we had the talent to do it was what gave us our inspiration. When I think of Canada, I think of nothing except gold.”
The hockey dreams began much earlier at the age of five for the Ruthven, Ontario native. Before picking up a hockey stick, she laced up figure skates just like her older sister. However, she wanted to follow in the footsteps of another family member.
“Everything my brother did, I wanted to do,” she said. “He’d be out in the street playing road hockey with the neighborhood kids. At the age of five, I asked my dad if I could play hockey and he told me that girls figure skate and boys play hockey, but instead, I continued to follow in my brother’s footsteps.
“I played road hockey with the kids and I was shooting pucks every single day. Hockey was my passion and that’s what I really wanted to do, so I begged my mom to tell my dad that I really wanted to play. At the age of six, he ended up registering me and I’ve loved the game ever since.”
Although she had the support of her family, not everyone around her felt the same way.
“I was told by one of my teachers to have a more realistic dream and that school is more important,” Agosta-Marciano said. “I do believe school is very important because, let’s face it, us women play for the love of the game and not the money we make.
“At the end of the day, when I retire from hockey, I need to fall back on schooling,” she continued. “Hockey has given me a lot of opportunities, including the chance to get an education, so one day when I retire I want to specialize in the canine unit and become a police officer.”
Having grown up in a small town, she has seen first-hand how her successes have inspired others. She hopes her success will give young boys and girls the courage to dream big.
“To be honest, it’s not about the gold medals that I’ve won,” she said. “It’s about giving back and inspiring young boys and girls to do something special in their lives. If they grow up and are inspired and do something special, whether it’s playing hockey or becoming a teacher, if they do that because of me, then I’ve done my job and I’m happy.
“If you believe in yourself and your abilities and you’re willing to work as hard as you can, anything is possible.”
A major goal of hers is to encourage young girls to get involved in the sport. Agosta-Marciano has seen the growth in hockey among females, but believes there’s still more work to be done.
“Hockey is an amazing team sport,” she said. “You meet a lot of people and you make new friends and that’s what it’s all about. My biggest thing is, you can play hockey because you love the game and as long as you’re having fun, that’s when you play your best.
“It all starts with us girls, we’re the ones trying to inspire the up-and-coming girls and we want to leave a legacy by making women’s hockey the best of the best, and knowing that it was us girls that got women’s hockey where it’s at today.”
Note: Canadian women’s hockey Olympic gold medallists Meghan Agosta-Marciano and Laura Fortino will be in attendance for tonight’s game for a ceremonial puck drop, video tribute, and meet and greet with fans. For more information on how to purchase tickets for the game meet and greet, call 1-866-DOGS-TIX.
“Wednesday night is going to be fun, I’m really excited. It’s pretty amazing that Laura [Fortino] and I can come and be there for the Hamilton Bulldogs. It’s those memories that we and everyone else will remember for the rest of our lives.”
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