Caroline Ouellette's road to Hockey Hall of Fame wasn't an easy one

It took her two years to convince her parents to let her play the sport and she was the only girl on her team from age 9-17 in Rosemont.

Article content

Women’s hockey has come a long way from when Caroline Ouellette first started playing at age 9 in Rosemont.

Ouellette’s father, André, didn’t want his daughter to play the sport and it took her two years before she could convince her mother to let her play.

Article content

“My dad had never seen a girl play hockey,” Ouellette, 44, said Monday night during her acceptance speech in Toronto after becoming the 10th woman inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. “It was eventually my mom, Nicole, that brought me to the store — without my dad — to buy me my first pair of hockey skates.”

Advertisement 2

Article content

Ouellette thanked Joe Martucci, who was president of the Comité des Jeunes de Rosemont, for allowing her to play on what was an all-boys’ team, promising that she would be welcomed and respected by her teammates.

That didn’t necessarily go for the teams Ouellette would play against.

“I played with boys from 9-17 years old and all those years I was the only girl on my team,” Ouellette said in her acceptance speech. “I heard about every possible name-calling. These challenges helped me develop a deeper appreciation of how lucky I was to play hockey when so many women around my age couldn’t have this same opportunity.”

Her father became her coach and her mother attended every game, cheering on all the players “as if we were all her children,” Ouellette said.

Ouellette still remembers the advice her father gave her about dealing with the name-calling she would get as the only girl on the ice.

” ‘Caro, you don’t control what other people say to you but you always control your actions, you always control your attitude and the best thing to do right now is to focus on being a difference-maker on the ice, where you have control,’ ” she recalled her father saying.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

Advertisement 4

Article content

Ouellette said her mother taught her the value of togetherness, of caring for others and to celebrate her teammates’ accomplishments as if they were her own.

“I was released from more minor hockey teams than I can remember, but never did my parents blame the coaches or called for injustice,” Ouellette said. “They always kept a positive mindset, encouraging me to continue on my path wherever it led me.”

That path led Ouellette to four Olympic gold medals, six IIHF Women’s World Championship gold medals as well as six silver medals as a forward with Team Canada. She is also a four-time winner of the Clarkson Cup, winning the National Women’s Hockey League championship with the Montreal Stars in 2009, 2011 and 2012 and again in 2017 with the renamed Canadiennes de Montréal.

Ouellette also played at Concordia University and at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where she earned a degree in criminology. In 2019, she was named to the Order of Canada.

Ouellette is now a coach with the national team program and is associate head coach of the Concordia Stingers. Her wife, Julie Chu, is the head coach at Concordia.

Advertisement 5

Article content

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

Advertisement 6

Article content

“I hope that I can help them grow and develop to become strong and confident women,” Ouellette said about the players she coaches.

Ouellette said she is “filled with hope” for the future of women’s hockey with the new Professional Women’s Hockey League that will begin play in January.

Chu, who used to play against Ouellette as a four-time Olympian with Team USA, was with her at Monday night’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Ouellette described Chu as her best friend and “the most wonderful human being in the world.” They are raising two young daughters together.

“I feel so lucky that I discovered hockey as a kid,” Ouellette said. “It instinctively became a passion. As far as I can remember, I watched all the Montreal Canadiens games. I knew all the players. My dream was to play for the Habs like every kid in hockey in Montreal.”

That hockey dream didn’t come true for Ouellette — but a lot of other ones did.

[email protected]

Related Stories

Article content


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.