Ste. Anne star hockey player Jocelyne Larocque has been named the Female Athlete of the Decade by the Manitoba Aboriginal Sports and Recreation Council.
Larocque has amassed a long list of accomplishments during her incredible career but she admits this honour takes things to a whole new level. "I was extremely speechless when I was told. I didn't know what to say. It's pretty neat."
Once the news sunk in, Larocque took time to reflect on all that she's been able to accomplish in the sport on the world stage. "It makes you reflect on the last ten years cause it's the decade and I'm very fortunate, very honoured to represent Canada at the Olympics, at the World Championships so, I feel very lucky to play the sport I absolutely love at the level I can. I feel grateful."
Women's hockey continues to grow and expand and it's something Larocque loves to see and believes is overdue. "It's amazing to see how much it's grown. Even just to think... I grew up in Ste. Anne and I was the only girl my age that played. Bailey Bram was the only girl her age that played. My sister and my cousin were the only girls their ages and now there are girl's hockey teams from 7 and 8 years old and all the way up. To think of how in that span it's grown in that town, let alone in all of Canada, is pretty special."
Being a woman of aboriginal descent and being able to accomplish all that she has, means a great deal to Laroque for many reasons. "If I can inspire anybody to just chase their dreams. It's not even about hockey, it's about finding what you love. That's what life is all about. Finding your passion, what you really care about and just going for it. Something like women's hockey... there are people in the past who would tell me, 'well, you can't make a living doing that' or ' what are you actually going to do' and that's something I don't want girls younger than me to have to answer. Hopefully, kids that are younger than me can play women's hockey professionally. At the end of the day, it's about finding what you love and going for it."
When thinking how she herself is an inspiration to little girls all over the province who see her as a role model because of her gender as well as her heritage, Laroque admits to being a bit overwhelmed about it. "You know... it almost makes me feel uncomfortable because I just see myself as someone just doing she loves," she says with a bit of a laugh. "When I think about the fact that I can inspire... because I looked for inspiration when I was a kid and I've mentioned their names before, but players like Cassie Campbell and Vicky Sunohara... I remember being a kid watching them play and to think I can be that for youth is pretty special. It's something I don't take for granted and I try every day to be the best person I can be. It's not just about what you love but treating people with respect and kindness. If I can inspire even just one kid to chase their dreams, it's all pretty special."
Laroque is currently in Calgary at the National Team camp and when she was named the MASRC Female Athlete of the Decade, her team made sure to let her know they were proud of her. "My coach at the National Team camp, that morning, that was the picture on all of our virtual meeting headings. So, that brought it to the forefront which was a bit embarrassing but really nice he acknowledged it."
When asked if her teammates made a big deal when she came onto the ice that day, did they give the stick taps and do some cheering, Laroque smiles, laughs and humbly admits, "yup, they sure did."