Supporting Canadian Athletes

Jennifer Botterill

Jennifer Botterill has been a member of the Canadian women’s hockey teamsince 1997. As a two time Olympic Champion (2002, 2006) and the youngest member of the 1998 Olympic silver medal team, Jennifer has developed into one of Canada’s key players and is a strong 2010 hopeful for the Winter Games in Vancouver, BC.

Jennifer was born in Ottawa, Ontario, but at the age of one moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba where she believes she was fortunate to spend an active childhood, in a very active family. Her mother, Doreen, represented Canada in speed skating at the 1964 and 1968 Winter Olympics; her brother Jason won three gold medals, more than any other player representing Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships, and currently works for the Pittsburgh Penguins; and her father Cal, published author and well renowned sports psychologist at the University of Winnipeg, was an avid hockey player and fan and has worked at many Olympic Games.

With so many talented athletes in the family, it’s no wonder Jennifer has also achieved athletic success throughout her career. She believes her interest in sport began at the age of five when she learned to play ringette, and then went on to try a number of other sports, most of which she excelled at. However, it wasn’t until high school that she realized hockey was her favourite sport and that her dream would be to play on the national team one day. “I moved to Calgary in grade twelve and attended the national sport school to benefit from the Olympic high performance program”, Jennifer explains. “It was the first year I focused on only hockey and I loved it”.

Jennifer attended a national training camp the following year, and at the age of 18, was the youngest member to make the top twenty cut from twenty-eight women to represent Canada at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, where the team won a silver medal. She went on to win an additional two gold medals at the 2002 Salt Lake City and 2006 Turin Olympic Games; five World Championships, twice as MVP (2001 & 2004); was National Champion with Harvard University, and is a two time winner of the Patty Kazmaier Award (given to the top player in NCAA women’s hockey).

In the midst of her hockey career, Jennifer successfully managed her time to graduate from Harvard University with Honours and a degree in Psychology. She currently lives in Calgary to train with the Canadian team, but her home base is Mississauga. When she is not in Calgary training with the national team, she plays with 2008 National Champions, the Mississauga Chiefs in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL), where Jennifer was the league’s leading point scorer for the 2008 season. “I never really focused on these accomplishments before as I feel I have been lucky to play on such great teams surrounded by so many amazing people – those are the true highlights”, she says.

Jennifer feels that she was very fortunate to have such an encouraging and supportive family throughout her career. She always found it inspiring to watch her brother play on the world junior team. When asked about how it feels to represent Canada at three Olympics, Jennifer responded, “It’s amazing, I always watched the Olympics on TV and now I am a part of them, but the best is coming home and sharing the experience and the moments with others”.

Jennifer first became involved with athlete leadership in high school when she was asked to speak at various schools to share her experiences and inspire her peers. She has also spoken and continues to speak at many hockey clinics and camps throughout the year to motivate future champions. Jennifer especially enjoys charity work where she can share her story and make a difference in the lives of others. “Some of my visits can be sad but putting a smile on a face or making someone’s day better is my favourite because I feel that I am really making a difference”, explains Jennifer. She takes pride in working with organizations such as The Children’s Wish Foundation, The Canadian Cancer Society, Make a Child Smile, and various events for breast cancer.

Internationally, Jennifer is an ambassador for Right To Play, which is a global humanitarian organization that uses sport and play programs to improve health, develop life skills, and foster peace for children and communities in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world.Right To Play is supported by an international team of high performance athletes from over forty countries which includes Jennifer and many other Canada’s athlete leaders. As a Right To Play ambassador and role model, Jennifer helps to inspire children, raise awareness and promote opportunities for Right To Play programs.

In addition to her other community endeavors, Jennifer participates in the ‘Skate with a Champion’ program which provides children with the opportunity to skate with one of their heroes; she is an instructor at various hockey schools throughout the summers; and she is a member of Hockey Canada’s Women’s High Performance Athletic Committee. “I take pride by being there for my teammates and staying involved with the community, I enjoy giving back whenever I can”, she says. Jennifer views her athlete leadership experiences as a way to keep her life balanced. “Being actively involved in the community helps to keep things in perspective and allows me to appreciate what I am doing on the ice”, she says.

Jennifer was first introduced to AthletesCAN when she joined the national team and was given information on its various programs and services. Shortly after which, she became a two time recipient of the Investors Group Amateur Athlete Fund in 2001 and 2005, and avid user of the Bell Athletes Connect program. In 2008, Jennifer opened the Toronto Stock Exchange and the 2008 AthletesCAN Forum with some of Canada’s top athlete leaders. Although she has not been able to attend an AthletesCAN Forum due to scheduling conflicts, she has learned from the information passed down from the event and hopes to be able to attend the 2010 Forum in Gatineau, QC.

The women’s hockey team is currently training in Calgary in preparation for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games. Team members are busy training on and off the ice to ensure top form as their current team of twenty-six players will be cut back to twenty-one in the near future. .“It’s very intense and making the time fly by quickly!” Jennifer explains. Her goals for 2010 include making the team and winning the gold medal on home ice. Jennifer wants the team to be at their best each and every single time they play, and looks forward to bringing out the best in the people around her.

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