Since the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, few women’s hockey players have had their star shine as brightly as Meaghan Mikkelson. Articulate and intelligent, Mikkelson has become one of the more popular players in the sport. Having emerged as one of the leaders on Team Canada’s blue line, her game has advanced by a quantum leap.
In a silver medal effort at the 2011 IIHF Women’s World Championships in Switzerland, she was recognized as Most Outstanding Player on defense. Heading into Canada’s centralization camp for the Sochi 2014 Winter Games, she is one of only three defenders (along with Tessa Bonhomme and Catherine Ward) to have a Winter Games gold medal. Only 28, Mikkelson is already one of the veterans on a young defense corps.
When not competing with the Canadian National Team, fans can find her competing in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. As the face of the Team Alberta franchise, she was their second leading scorer in 2012-13.
Given the role of alternate captain, she was proud of the sponsorship that the Calgary Flames showed the franchise. It is a sign of encouragement that Mikkelson and her teammates know that there is a bright future ahead for women’s hockey. It is a future that Mikkelson is working hard to ensure as she also serves with the CWHL as a Player Representative on the league’s Board of Directors, respectively.
Of note, her popularity has also become a family affair. In July 2012, Mikkelson, her father Bill (a former player with the NHL’s LA Kings and Washington Capitals) and brother Brendan (a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning) were featured in Sports Illustrated. Recently, Mikkelson and her mom Betsy were featured in an advertisement by Canadian retailer Sport Chek.
In loaning her time to several charitable causes, she is more than just an athlete, but a public figure and a role model. Mikkelson has been involved with valuable causes such as the Special Olympics in Alberta, while the Royal Bank of Canada brought Mikkelson on board as part of the RBC Foundation, naming her an RBC Olympian in 2011.
Through the foundation, Mikkelson (and other Olympic and Paralympic athletes) were athlete ambassadors in numerous communities. In 2012, Mikkelson and the RBC Foundation made a $5,000 donation to her local community hockey association.
Having grown up in St. Albert, Alberta, the community was essential in the development of her career. She was the first girl to play on the boys team, breaking barriers and opening doors for future female players. Her donation to the St. Albert Minor Hockey Association provides young girls the opportunity to compete in the sport. In addition, Mikkelson was one of the inaugural inductees to the City of St. Albert’s Skating Wall of Fame.
In similarity to Bonhomme, Mikkelson is also gaining attention for her looks. While both are role models for young girls and work tirelessly in charitable causes, they have also captured the attention of male hockey fans.
Recently, Mikkelson participated in a photo shoot for Canadian sports publication SportsNet Magazine. As a rebuttal to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, the magazine has a Beauty in Sports issue which features Canadian athletes (among others). Ironically, Bonhomme was featured in the 2012 edition.
Like Bonhomme, she is more than just a pretty face. Her hard work, dedication and love of hockey have made her one of the great hockey heroines of the decade. As the next generation of women’s hockey players comes along, they will have grown up idolizing an amazing woman like Meaghan Mikkelson.