Hayley Wickenheiser
Hayley Wickenheiser

U of S to honour Canadian hockey icon

She is widely regarded as the greatest female hockey player in the world and is the all-time leading scorer in the history of Canada’s national women’s team.

On June 8, the University of Saskatchewan will proudly celebrate Hayley Wickenheiser’s career contributions, achievements and accolades, when she is awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws during Spring Convocation ceremonies at Saskatoon’s TCU Place.

“It is really special, especially coming from the U of S,” said Wickenheiser. “My heart is, and always will be, in Saskatchewan. That is where my life was really shaped and I am grateful to be able to come there and receive an honorary degree and to be able to address the students. It’s also a way to say thanks to the community and to all the people who really supported me through my time in hockey and maybe leave a few words with future grads who will be moving on to great things after school. And certainly with this happening in Saskatchewan at the U of S, it is a great honour for sure.”

Wickenheiser grew up in Shaunavon, Sask., playing minor hockey on outdoor rinks with boys’ teams before moving to Calgary with her family. She made her international hockey debut at the age of 15 and went on to play 23 seasons with the national team, retiring in January as a five-time Olympic medallist (including four straight gold medals from 2002 to 2014) and the all-time scoring leader with 168 goals and 379 points in 276 career games for Canada.

Now 38, Wickenheiser was a member of Team Canada when women’s hockey was introduced as a medal sport at her first Winter Olympics in 1998 and served as the country’s flag bearer at her final Olympic Games in 2014. Her impact as a mentor for female hockey players has helped develop the game dramatically across the country, with the number of female players in Canada growing from 16,000 in her first year on the national team in 1994 to close to 87,000 in 2017. 

“Hayley Wickenheiser has been the face of women’s hockey for decades and a remarkable role model for young players from coast to coast. We are honoured to have her take part in our Spring Convocation ceremonies,” said U of S President Peter Stoicheff. “Off the ice, Hayley has been a passionate advocate for youth in all sports, working with a wide variety of charities and community programs as well as fundraising for girls who couldn’t otherwise afford to play hockey. She leaves a legacy unmatched in the game and has inspired a generation of future Olympians.”

Chosen Canada’s female athlete of the year in 2007, Wickenheiser was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2011 and was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2014. Wickenheiser, who played university hockey for the University of Calgary (U of C) and softball at the University of British Columbia, graduated from U of C with a kinesiology degree in 2013 and plans to begin medical school in the fall.

One of six honorary degree recipients at U of S Spring Convocation this year, Wickenheiser will be recognized during the 9 am ceremony on June 8 at TCU Place. For the full convocation schedule, please visit: https://students.usask.ca/events/spring-convocation.php

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