Cassie Campbell-Pascall and Sami Jo Small sign autographs on Monday at the Scotiabank Girls HockeyFest at Westman Place. (CHRIS JASTER/BRANDON SUN)
Two-time Olympic gold medallist Cassie Campbell-Pascall came to Brandon on Monday hoping to impact the lives of approximately 100 minor girls hockey players.
While she felt she did that at the second annual Scotiabank Girls HockeyFest at Westman Place, Campbell-Pascall also left the Wheat City having been touched by one of the kids as well. Cassie Bartley, a 12-year-old who plays hockey with Brandon’s Mar-Dee Rebels peewee team, approached the former national women’s hockey team captain and told her that she was named after Campbell-Pascall, which set off an emotional response.
"I almost had tears," said Campbell-Pascall. "It’s one of the moments in your life when you reflect for a few moments and it kind of hits you pretty hard. That was really a special thing for me. Not that you need legitimacy or whatever, but just to know that her parents watched and thought enough to name their child after me. It was just kind of one of those moments where you’re in disbelief for a minute."
Bartley also cherished their encounter.
"It’s really exciting because she’s kind of my role model since I’m named after her," she said. "It was really fun."
Winnipegger Sami Jo Small, who also won two gold medals with the Canadian women’s hockey team, was the other big name at the HockeyFest. Small and Campbell-Pascall worked with the Westman female hockey players on different skills — including shooting, stick-handling and how to avoid getting hit — at stations set up around the rink. They also told personal stories from their playing days.
Bartley, who was attending her first HockeyFest, said she gained a lot from the event and wants to come back next year.
"With the experience of hearing their stories and such, I think it would improve everybody’s skills," she said. "With all their hints and tricks of how to play good and how to score, I think everyone will improve."
That’s exactly what Campbell-Pascall hoped the participants would get out of the one-day clinic. Even while she was a player, she tried to give back to the game and help develop the next generation of players. She continues to do that today, even though she hung up her skates seven years ago and now works for Hockey Night in Canada, which is why she came out to Brandon.
She hopes the kids and parents both learned from the weekend.
"We still have a long way to go in the women’s game and we need everyone’s help to get it to where we want it to go," said Campbell-Pascall, who is also happy to see this generation have role models in the sport that she didn’t have when she grew up. "Just most important for the girls to have a good time out there."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 19, 2013