Arguably the most successful and well-known Canadian female hockey player, Hayley Wickenheiser began her career playing on male teams until the age of 13, when she helped Team Alberta win the gold in the Canada Winter Games Under-17 Girls’ event. After the tournament she was named MVP, the first of many awards that she would win in Calgary minor league hockey organizations. She participated in her first international competition with the Canadian Women’s National Team at the age of 15 and, as of 2010, has won six gold and three silver World Championship medals and has been named to the All-Star team four times. She was part of the Canadian squad that was sent to the inaugural women’s ice hockey competition at the 1998 Winter Olympics and took home the silver medal. She found even greater success in 2002, capturing the gold medal as well as being the tournament’s top scorer and MVP, a feat she repeated at the 2006 Games. At the 2010 Winter Olympics she recited the athlete’s oath at the opening ceremony, a testament to her considerable status in the Canadian hockey scene, and took home a third Olympic gold medal. Nationally she has won numerous national championships with the Edmonton Chimos and the Calgary Oval X-Treme and, in 2010, joined the University of Calgary Dinos for the 2010-2011 University season.
Wickenheiser also played professional softball beginning in 1994, to considerable acclaim, and was named to the Canadian team for the 2000 Summer Olympics. Although she retired from this sport after these Olympics, she served as a colour commentator for the tournament at the 2008 Summer Olympics. In July 2006, the sport center in her hometown of Shaunavon, Saskatchewan was renamed “Wickenheiser Place”.