Caroline Ouellette One of the Great Hockey Humanitarians

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Caroline Ouellette One of the Great Hockey Humanitarians
Image obtained from http://www.jghfoundation.org/upload/JGH/awk-rose-eng.html

Three-time Winter Games gold medalist Caroline Ouellette provided the Comité des Jeunes de la Louisiane (a youth group in Montreal) with a remarkable way to start their 2013. The CJL was one of twenty grant recipients in Canada that were given a Royal Bank of Canada Play Hockey grant.

Ouellette is part of the RBC Olympic Athlete Program and an ambassador for the Play Hockey program. She presented the $25,000 RBC Play Hockey grant cheque on January 19 at the Centre Etienne-Desmarteau (where one of the rinks is named in her honor). Said grant shall allow the group to purchase additional ice time, along with the acquisition of equipment.

Fans that are aware of Ouellette’s charitable endeavors can attest that she is more than just an elite athlete, but an elite person.

While Ouellette has accumulated a career of remarkable awards and accolades (including being the only woman to have earned a Clarkson Cup, IIHF Gold, Winter Games Gold and the NCAA Frozen Four title as both a player and a coach), Ouellette’s work off the ice is just an inspiring.

She has given back to the community by conducting on-ice practices with girl’s teams from Montreal-area schools such as Kuper Academy and the College Edouard-Montpetit. Ouellette has also joined the coaching staff of Les Lawton (the first women’s hockey coach to have won 500 games) at Concordia University in Montreal.

There is no question that the student-athletes that play for her will find their careers enriched from her guidance and mentoring.

While her contributions are helping to inspire the next generation of hockey stars, Ouellette has also participated in many matches for charity. Her club team, the Montreal Stars, has held numerous exhibition matches for charity (in which all players donate their time).

An annual event held during the regular season includes an annual Pink at the Rink event for Breast Cancer research. It is an event close to her heart as she had a family member that survived the disease while she competed at the Winter Games in Vancouver.

Another hockey-related cause that Ouellette has donated her time to includes Hockey Helps the Homeless. A key aspect of fundraising for HHtH includes a day-long tournament in which professionals and amateurs play together in a series of friendly scrimmages with proceeds going to various local charities.

In addition to her hockey-related causes, Ouellette has also loaned her efforts to Right to Play. Having served as an RTP athlete ambassador since 2003, the cause helps to transform the lives of the less fortunate in developing countries by promoting sport and fostering peace in area affected by war, poverty and disease. The Toronto-based global charity seeks to instill the values of leadership and self-confidence while building life skills. 

An aspect of her involvement with RTP included a visit to the African nation of Benin in 2011. Bordering Nigeria to the east, and Togo to the west, Benin (formerly known as Dahomey) is a tropical sub-Saharan nation in which subsistence farming is the main way of life. Part of her visit included visiting sick children (many who had gone deaf through ear infections), and participating in the launch of a running club for girls.

While in Benin, Ouellette also met a girl’s soccer team who had won a soccer tournament that was sponsored by RTP. Employing great acumen, her visit helped to educate youngsters on the benefit of exercise and fitness. In meeting with young women, she helped to empower them through sport.   

Just as much a leader off the ice as she is on it, Ouellette has truly paid it forward, influencing and transforming lives.

The embodiment of dedication, perseverance and optimism, she has assembled a body of work that makes her more than just a hockey humanitarian, but a role model for an entire generation of hockey players, female and male.

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