Coming up in the next couple weeks I’ve got an incredibly special story - one of our own is going to the Olympics!
Genny Knowles is an NSWC graduate who used to tend goal at the club, and in February of 2018 she’s heading to Pyeongchang, Korea to suit up for the Korean Women’s National Hockey Team.
First off, it’s an incredible accomplishment, one I’m sure we can all appreciate. Actually, scratch that - this one is difficult to fully appreciate. Heck, Genny herself can hardly wrap her mind around the honour! She’s obviously excited for the opportunity, but while I was preparing my questions for the interview I started thinking about the impact Genny and other female athletes have on the youthful admirers of their sport.
During my preparation I wanted to learn more about the inspirational powers of female athletes, and I stumbled upon a great story about Eugenie Bouchard preparing for the Australian Open.
Except she wasn’t in the middle of an on-court practice or a fitness session.
Well, she wasn’t even really swimming. She was “reclining at the pool’s edge, performing a leg extension routine…” when a group of young girls and boys in the pool started copying her kicks.
You never know when someone is watching, right?
As you’ll read next week, Genny was caught off guard a bit when I asked her about being a role model for young girls playing hockey both here in North Vancouver and in Korea. I don’t think she realized the scale at which she’s going to be recognized. Plus, her humility at the situation probably doesn’t allow her to feel like a role model for the youth.
Which is precisely why she’s the perfect role model.
Athletes like Genie Bouchard and Genny Knowles march to an internal drum driven by their passion and dedication to their sport. Talking with Genny and hearing about the immense risk she took just to be selected is a huge inspiration even to me: a 34 year-old hockey coach who would be laughed off the Korean Women’s Olympic hockey team bench!
But it’s in the effort, the drive, the desire - that’s where inspiration strikes regardless of age, gender, or fan affiliation with the Edmonton Oilers.
The truth is that I can’t possibly begin to comprehend the discriminatory realities of being a female athlete, nor would it be responsible of me to make the attempt. I’m writing this post this week because I didn’t want Genny’s post to include anything resembling a political soapbox.
What I do know is that anything that encourages young athletes of any gender to pick up a goalie stick or a tennis racquet is worth talking about. If Genie Bouchard thinks it’s a good idea to casually kick some water then it’s probably a good idea and you should definitely do it too.
I’m not saying we’re all going to qualify to play goal for Korea in the Olympics, but the sacrifice Genny has made to follow her dream is more than enough for all of us to follow through on whatever we put our mind to.
Ready, boys and girls? Let’s get to it!