Meet Whitnee Roncato!
Tell us about yourself!
Hello hockey fans! My name is Whitnee Roncato (O’Connor). I was born and raised in Guelph, Ontario where I grew up playing hockey starting at the age of five. I had pretty liberal parents who thought hockey would be a great sport for their daughter to join and an older brother who inspired me to play. My grandfather was often a sponsor for the girls house league program in Guelph and my Dad coached a lot until my teenage years. You know that fan in the stands with the cowbell? Yeah, that was my mom, my #1 fan. My family was always very supportive and a big part of my early days and I will forever be grateful for all the sacrifices they made.
I played with the Guelph Minor Hockey Association under their girls program from 1990 until 1996. In 1996 a girls’ league was formed, the Guelph Girls Hockey Association, better known as Guelph Thunder. I played for the Thunder from the age of 11 until the age of 18, when I made the leap to enemy territory joining the Cambridge Roadrunners. I ended my competitive days in Cambridge playing at the highest level I had ever competed, “A” hockey. After taking about seven years off I finally got back into the game thanks to my husband’s encouragement. As an adult I play in a few rec leagues, both men’s and women’s, and I finally took the leap and got into coaching! As much as I love playing, and although coaching is very new to me, it is becoming more of a focus. We need more females in the leadership roles!
If I’m not playing, talking or thinking about hockey, I’m probably busy with my other passion. For the past five years I have worked in the medical cannabis industry assisting patients of all ages and walks of life. I am truly passionate about my work and love being part of the cannabis industry.
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO BE A WHL BRAND AMBASSADOR?
Women’s hockey is an amazing game! I’m here as an ambassador to spread the word and to invite other women/girls to lace em’ up! I think it’s important as well to get more women of colour involved in our game and to encourage and support their growth. I’m also here to unite with others that share the same love and passion for growing the women’s game—from players, coaches, officials, fans, trainers and managers! Our game builds sisterhood and brings it to the next level!
WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO AS A #WHLAMBASSADOR?
Of course I’m looking forward to being part of the team! It’s always refreshing to find support in our community and Women’s Hockey Life is definitely a positive, empowering team to be part of. It’s always inspiring to be involved in something that is bigger than yourself where you get to leave a mark.
WHAT’S SOMETHING NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT YOU?
I am a pretty open book! Lots know that I love cats and have three, but not many realize they are all named after hockey legends. We have Lemieux the “Penguin Cat”, named after Mario. Gordie, who takes after Mr. Hockey in so many ways, it’s kind of odd. And last but not least, our lone girl, Cassie named after #77 herself.
IF YOU COULD SIT DOWN AND HAVE DINNER WITH ONE FEMALE HOCKEY PLAYER, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
I would love to sit and chat with Hilda Ranscombe. Hilda was a trailblazer for women’s hockey in Ontario and she really put us ladies on the map. Her and her Preston Rivulettes were a strong, fierce and competitive group of ladies who paved the way for future generations like myself. They were also undefeated, a lot! Look up their records and prepare to be mind blown.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN IN HOCKEY OR IN LIFE?
My “old” coach is going to get a shoutout here. To this day, 17 years later, I am still close to my last rep coach, Traci. Traci taught us so much more than the game. She taught us about life, relationships, goal setting, visualization, positivity, resilience and being an all around good person. We had three rules and, in no order, they were: try your best, never give up, and have fun. I have taken these with me through life as an adult and as I start my own coaching journey, I often have Traci in the back of my mind. I hope to make as much of an impact on young people as she did.
WHAT’S YOUR DREAM FOR WOMEN’S HOCKEY?
My dream for women’s hockey is that we can just play/coach with no judgement—no matter where you live, no matter your age, your sexuality, your skill level. We just want to be a part of the hockey culture, have fun, make friends and sweat it out on the ice. All Hilda and the Rivs wanted to do was play hockey. I think it’s safe to say after 80 years, all us ladies want is the same opportunity to play the greatest game on this earth. Lots has improved and the game is definitely on the right path, but we still have lots of work to do! Let’s get’r done!
Interested in becoming a #WHLAmbassador?