My life could very well be described using only three words, the three words that I repeated to myself even during the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games: hockey, Canada, and the Olympics.
Looking back, it's almost hard to believe that all the places I've been and all the people I've met have brought me right here, where I am today. But telling stories is the only way we have to put things in order and give an explanation to the present, and it is more logical to build all of that by turning back rather than looking towards the future.
My father has done many different jobs, many of which have had a great social impact. He has always been quite chatty and, when I was little, he was a referee in an infinite number of sports, from hockey to lacrosse, which led him to spend a lot of time between among boys and in the car.
My first memories are all piled up right there, in the passenger seat with him, as we talked about anything and I told him about my days.
I absorbed everything.
The manners and topics, the attitude and the contents.
What he was, became, in part, what I was and was reflected in the girl I would be.
I loved school, and I loved being among other people, with sport being a means to do it and, at the same time, a purpose. I have always been very sociable, easy to involve in all kinds of activities, happy even with when studying, although I would never trade it for an hour of football or skating.
I fell in love with hockey later, but I realized right away that skates were the best thing in the world.
Running seemed so ordinary.
Within everyone's reach.
But speeding on the ice didn't.
It was incredibly thrilling. Only for a few.
Growing up, having chosen hockey, I did have some doubts.
I'd call them Growing pains.
Part and parcel of the growth process: impossible to avoid, yet necessary, to understand if your "whys" are strong enough to bear wind and storms.
"It's a men's game."
"There are no professional leagues".
"There's no future".
Any girl of my generation has heard all of this, at least once.
Every weekend I spent hours traveling around Canada to be able to play, and when something didn't go as expected, on and off the field, I got so sad that only the memories of my beginnings could dispel the clouds.
I repeated to myself how much I loved the game.
Or I thought back to the feelings that I had the first time I put on my skates.
My stream of consciousness has always had a physical, material, outlet, showing up in the form of written words. In the form of many written words.
Diaries over diaries.
Hundreds of pages that still today, just like when I was a little girl and when I was a teenager, managed to keep the gates of my thoughts shut.
They give shape to my life.
A goal to my efforts.
Meaning to my instincts.
Just in the two weeks at the Beijing 2022 Olympics, I covered 50 pages with ink.
I've always written a lot.
As a girl, I invented stories, while today I talk to myself. But as I do it, I try fixing some points, to freeze them in time. "Just thinking about them" could let them vanish. Partly because of modesty and partly because of fear.
There are the facts as if I were putting pen to paper all the notes that will be used to write a documentary about my life.
And there is my will, my wishes, my envisions: an abstract design full of positive connotations, which mold the reality into their own vision of the present, instead of telling it.
I have consistently strongly supported the idea of "fake it 'till you make it." Telling myself what I expect from myself, what I wish, and what I hope from me, over and over, has always been a valid tool to actually get all of it.
So, I tuck those notebooks in my bag, season after season, carrying them around with me to the ends of the earth, where fate scheduled the two editions of the Olympic Games in which I have had the honor of taking part.
Both were extremely far from home.
But different from each other.
Pyeongchang was the dream I had chased down for twenty years and which finally became real.
The summit of sport, at least of my sport, that turns into privilege anything that up to that day had been sacrifice and struggle.
The bittersweet experience of a beautiful journey, shared with my family, and even fun in the management of daily life, but that suddenly died in a devastating silver, in the defeat in the final against the US that forced all my companions and me to make a personal deep examination of our conscience.
Hockey + Canada + Olympics, an equation that has only one possible result: gold. The road to redemption lasted four whole years, and it included times when everything seemed to have broken down and times when nothing seemed able to stop us, in equal measure.
We won the World Cup, in Calgary, on the last day of last August, beating the usual opponents, the same we met in Korea, and the same ones that we were sure to find in Beijing.
Two months later I injured my knee, and the path to the Games turned into a minefield. It was a long journey, despite the very short time left before the Olympic flame was going to be light up, during which I consumed numerous pens, repeating to myself on paper to do my best to be optimistic.
To be present.
My teammates and coaches helped me in the healing process at least as much, if not more, of the doctors who treated me, staying close to me in a period that, between bubbles and quarantines, already posed its challenges in terms of mental health.
Fixing a knee taught me patience, with all its virtues.
And after so much effort, when I arrived in China, I was ready to embrace the experience, in every moment and every nuance.
In those two months, I've enjoyed everything, from start to finish, while facing the empty stands, the matches wearing a mask, the distant family, or the weight of a medal that we didn't have the right to lose yet.
These have been the Games of Essence, where everything was shrunk to its purest form. Sports, games, me, and my journals.
Hockey, Canada, the Olympics.