Kristen Campbell – an Ice Lab trained goalie and current Team Canada Women’s Hockey Team member – still fondly remembers meeting Team Canada star Jennifer Botterill when she was in elementary school.
“I got to hold Jennifer’s Olympic gold medal, and that made me feel like I could make it to the Olympics one day,” said Campbell of the experience.
This past week, she was able to give that same opportunity to the next generation with two sessions at hockey for all centre titled “Relentless – Finding a Way to the Top”. The free sessions had young girls in particular clambering to see the now Olympic-level goaltender and hear her story. On May 11 Campbell held an open-to-the-public, seminar-style talk while the May 15 session was on-ice in the Iceplex’s Ice Lab goalie training facility where young goalies playing AAA or higher got to watch and interact with Campbell as she went through drills.
“It’s pretty special that young girls, and boys too, get to hold my medal and tell me that they want to go to the Olympics too. It’s a full-circle moment because that’s what fuelled me, and it’s just neat to come back here and see a lot of young goalies who are at the prep level or just starting out that are interested in the position. When I was starting out, I never had a female goaltending role model locally.”
Sunday’s on-ice session was unique for both Campbell and attendees. The participants got to sit right on the ice and watch Kristen hone her craft while asking questions along the way.
“I’ve never had people on the ice watching a session before,” noted Campbell. “It was cool to interact with them and ask them post-drill what they thought and get them working their hockey IQs too. As opposed to just sitting and watching, they got to be involved.”
Participant Laura Melizza took in as many lessons as she could from observing Campbell go through drills in the Ice Lab.
“You learn a lot from watching other people,” she noted. “It’s those little tips – like her hands are here but mine aren’t so maybe I should try that – and staying positive even if you aren’t playing – like telling players that a certain goalie doesn’t have the best glove or telling your teammates that you know they can do a certain move that they should try. Still being part of the team even if you’re not on the ice.”
Having trained with Campbell for the last eight years and having seen her progress, Jets Hockey Development’s Manager of Goalie Development at the Ice Lab Andy Kollar has been envisioning sessions like these for some time. To witness how engaged the players were in what Campbell was doing was an inspiration for him.
“Kristen is such a good role model and she’s someone who’s always giving back,” he said. “A lot of these girls need some light, something to look up to, something to strive for, and I feel like we have that right here. The girls were dialed in – nobody was saying a word because they were soaking up every second of it.”
It would have been hard not to, with the constant reminder of just how far Campbell has made it shown by her scarlet red, maple leaf emblazoned pads. The jersey she wore throughout the session though – a plain white Ice Lab jersey that any goalie training in the facility would wear – was, in contrast, a reminder of where she’s come from.
Kollar knows that if other young goalies take the mindset Kristen has taken throughout her development, they too can achieve the success she’s found through training at the Ice Lab.
“If you think you’re doing enough, you’re not. She lives and breathes that,” said Kollar. “I think these girls see that these drills aren’t as hard and complicated as you think every drill should be. Kristen’s still working on her stance and the smaller details of her game to get better.”
Developing female goaltenders will get the opportunity to interact with Campbell again this summer when she hosts her Kristen Campbell Female Goalie Camp at the Ice Lab from July 4-7. The camp is already sold out, but you can join the waitlist by clicking HERE.