Cheryl Pounder wowed Canadians as a defenseman in the 2002 and 2006 Winter Olympics where she won gold with Team Canada. Having played on six of Canada’s World Championship hockey teams (she was named an All-Star Defenseman in 2005), and a founding member of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, she is one of Canada’s most accomplished female athletes. Most recently, she’s appeared on television as a TSN commentator for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Pounder credits much of her success to the inspiring words of her grandmother who played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in the 1940s (the league that the movie A League of Their Own was based on).
“My grandma was awesome. She was one of the people I looked up to,” says Pounder. “I remember when I was a little girl, one night my mom was going to turn on the television, but before she turned it on, she said, Cheryl, this isn’t about sport, but about the hope and inspiration that all of us can do something really, really great. Then she turned the television on, and it was the opening ceremonies for the Winter Olympics.”
Cheryl says she turned her grandmother, who was sitting with her, and declared emphatically, “Grandma, I’m going to be there someday!”
“Well, if that’s what you want, then believe in yourself! You’ll never know if you don’t try,” her grandma had replied.
Later that night, Cheryl says she went up to her bedroom and wrote words like “commitment”, “passion” and “fun” all over her wall. “I didn’t even spell half of them right!” she says, chuckling. “But that is how I started. I began playing hockey and practicing and came to learn what those words would mean for me.”