In the illustrious annals of sports history, Hayley Wickenheiser stands as a legendary figure, seamlessly transitioning from a stellar hockey career to becoming a trained physician.
Her remarkable journey unveils the art of blending sports and education harmoniously.
Hayley Wickenheiser who is widely considered to be the greatest female ice hockey player of all time, donned the Canadian Hockey team jersey from the tender age of 15 in 1994 until her graceful retirement in 2017.
Her triumphant career on the ice boasts a remarkable 18 medals, including 11 gold and 7 silver, earned across various competitions.
Following this spectacular chapter, Wickenheiser embarked on a new odyssey, driven by a childhood dream—to become a physician.
In an insightful interview with SportsRation at the Scotia Bank Arena, the venue for the 2024 Kruger Big Assist 1-day clinic for kids, Wickenheiser shared the essence of her transformative journey.
“Since I was about ten years old, I always wanted to be a doctor, and with my parents being teachers, I knew I needed a life beyond hockey after retirement. Medicine was always my plan.”
As the career points leader for the Canada women’s national ice hockey team, with 168 goals and 211 assists in 276 games, Wickenheiser disclosed her practice of shadowing the emergency room during breaks from the ice.
“I used to shadow an emergency room quite a bit while playing on the national team, ensuring that it aligned with my aspirations. Retiring, I realized that working in the emergency room was the closest thing to being on a hockey team within the realm of medicine.”
Her motivation, rooted in a genuine love for helping people, drove her through the challenges of medical training, characterized by its demanding volume and workload.
“Anything is possible if you put your head down and have a plan, staying organized and dedicated every day. Now, as a practicing physician, I’m elated to have successfully blended my passion for hockey with the fulfilling world of medicine.”
Wickenheiser offered invaluable advice to aspiring hockey players, emphasizing the importance of self-belief and resisting external constraints.
“Well, I think the first thing is, don’t let someone put you in a box. I think it’s really important in life to believe in yourself, which is not always easy to do. And when you have outside inputs or perceptions of how we should live our lives, I think sometimes that can tamper with people’s dreams.
“So I never had that in my life. I was very fortunate to have parents that believed any girl could do anything a boy could do, ‘if you want to chase your dreams, go for it’. So I was just able to chip away.
“It was a long journey. It didn’t happen overnight. My career was long 23 years, and so was medicine. So just by doing both, but I also really love both, so it doesn’t feel like work.”
Hayley Wickenheiser is currently serving as the resident physician and assistant general manager for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Hayley Wickenheiser’s 18-Medal Breakdown:
Gold medal – 2002 Salt Lake City
Gold medal – 2006 Torino
Gold medal – 2010 Vancouver
Gold medal – 2014 Sochi
Silver medal – 1998 Nagano
Gold medal – 1994 United States
Gold medal – 1997 Canada
Gold medal – 1999 Finland
Gold medal – 2000 Canada
Gold medal – 2004 Canada
Gold medal – 2007 Canada
Gold medal – 2012 United States
Silver medal – 2005 Sweden
Silver medal – 2008 China
Silver medal – 2009 Finland
Silver medal – 2011 Switzerland
Silver medal – 2013 Canada
Silver medal – 2016 Canada