With Ottawa as her adopted hometown, the 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds will be a surreal experience for Sara Seiler. The opportunity to represent her homeland Germany in her second home will be a treasured one, “I am very excited. I definitely look forward to it. I have been in Ottawa for almost seven years. This is my second hometown and I am very excited.”
Seiler is very proud of the way the city of Ottawa has embraced the tournament. “For sure. For us, it is always very special to play in Canada. The whole event is a lot bigger in Canada than anywhere else. Hockey is number one in Canada and it is exciting to play here. It is always a highlight for a German player to come and play for a championship here.”
Prior to coming to Ottawa, Seiler made her Winter Olympic Games debut at the 2006 Torino Games. The event is one of her career highlights, “Definitely. I would say every athlete’s goal is to go to the Olympics. It was very special for us as a team to go there. It was just amazing. There were so many great athletes in our sport competing for medals.”
As the German squad has qualified to compete at the Sochi Games in 2014, Seiler would love to represent Germany for a second time on the world’s biggest stage. “I hope I can make the team. It is a very good opportunity.”
After Torino, Seiler came to Canada and her decision was motivated by one key factor, “Hockey mostly. I was looking for new challenges after the 2006 Olympics. I arrived in Canada in August 2006 for the 2006-07 season, and played in the National Women’s Hockey League.”
The decision to select Ottawa over another city was based on a reply, “I wrote to a couple of teams in Canada and the United States. The Ottawa Raiders replied quickly and they were very interested and helpful. I also sent them a couple of hockey highlight videos. I just really liked their manager and coach, Peter Lefebvre and Ronald Duguay. I am very grateful to them to this day.”
Competing for the Ottawa Raiders and the opportunity to participate in the former NWHL, an elite women’s league, was a great one. “I benefited a lot. It was great, and a level of hockey that was extra good. There were so many great athletes. A very good experience.” The experience of playing in a new country was made easier by her teammates, “Every player on the Ottawa team was very good and very helpful. They made the transition a lot easier.”
With great maturity and acumen, Seiler is also looking to the future, “I have to look at what is coming after. I cannot just focus on hockey.” The commitment to her future was addressed when she enrolled at Ottawa’s Carleton University.
During a storied career with the Carleton Ravens (in which she was the first European player to serve as the Ravens captain), Seiler was invited to the IIHF Women’s High Performance and Development camp in Bratislava, Slovakia. As part of an initiative to help improve the level of play among less competitive countries, Seiler was one of several athletes invited to compete at the camp during July 2011.
Although Seiler injured her knee at the camp, she still reflected on the experience as an important one. “It was a very good experience. It was great to see all the players, no matter where they were from. Everyone worked together and tried to get better. I hope there will be more opportunities like that for other players.”
Since graduating from Carleton University, the city of Ottawa no longer has a franchise in the current Canadian Women’s Hockey League. “I wish I could play another year here if we had a CWHL team.”
Although the opportunity to compete in an elite league again was not available to her for 2012-13, she managed to find an opportunity to compete in a highly competitive league, “I play for the Ottawa Ice Cats at the AA level, so I am still getting my games in.”
Seiler stayed on with the Ravens during the 2012-13 season, on the staff of head coach Shelley Coolidge, as the fitness coach. “I played three years for Shelley Coolidge and she was an influence in my career for several years.”
The opportunity to play the Ravens as a member of the German national team on March 31 is a unique one for Seiler, “I have mixed emotions for sure. It will be very special for me. I am a bit nervous. I played for Carleton for five years.”
Victoria Gouge, an alternate captain with the Ravens is very excited to see Seiler represent Germany in the city she now calls home. “We are so excited. She is a consistent player. She has an excellent slap shot and everyone listens to her.”
Kelsey Vander Veen, a graduating player with the Ravens remembers former teammate Seiler as an exceptional leader. “Seals (her nickname with the Ravens) was the best leader we ever had on our team. She is an influence no matter where she goes. We are extra proud of her and excited that she is playing in the Women’s Worlds.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
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