A captivating portrait of character and perseverance, Jackie Jarrell is an intriguing individual whose cerebral approach to the game allows her to occupy numerous facets. Balancing one of the most masterful careers in the history of inline hockey, while displaying an admirable entrepreneurial spirit along with a strong skillset as an instructor, it is seemingly woven together into an amazing chapter of sporting Canadiana.
Raised in Belleville, Ontario on her family dairy farm (RJ Farms), Jarrell quickly established herself as one of the Bay of Quinte’s most notable sporting heroes. Gaining acclaim for her hockey heroics, she obtained prestige as the recipient of the Robinson-Kelleher Memorial Award as Belleville's Athlete of the Year for 2012, the tenth woman to win the award.
Coincidentally, Hanna Bunton, who would go on to play hockey at Cornell University, was a finalist for the honor, capturing it a year later in 2013. The two would also work together as instructors at the Belleville Bulls OHL Hockey Camps.
Prior to inline glories, Jarrell also made her mark on the ice. Competing at the NCAA level with Erie, Pennsylvania’s Mercyhurst Lakers (where she would later return to earn a masters degree), she was part of the genesis of a spectacular hockey dynasty. Capturing four conference crowns, she experienced the achievement of helping the Lakers reach the No. 1 spot on the national hockey polls in 2006.
Running parallel to this fascinating time was the beginning of some tremendous friendships, whose impact would extend far beyond those formative seasons spent on the ice. Among her Lakers teammates, Michelle Bonello and Samantha Shirley would also become teammates with Canada’s inline national team, a tremendous triptych that would be fixtures in the sport, illuminating characters in the sport’s growing mythology.
Before such a nostalgic era could take shape, there was a defining moment for Jarrell. Suffering from the anguish of a concussion that jeopardized her career, a recovery in Pittsburgh served as the foundation in which she displayed the amazing potential to bounce back from great despair.
With tremendous strength and resolve, demonstrating the qualities that would help spawn a new and empowering chapter in her career, Jarrell emerged as a role model. Taking into account that so many promising careers have been impacted by concussion, it is a theme that still resonates.
In her role as the head trainer with the Quinte Red Devils AAA Hockey Association, one that she has held since 2014, Jarrell empathically developed a Concussion Program and administers the ImPACT Baseline Concussion Test to not only QRD players but over 500 athletes in her area ensuring a safe return to play for any concussed player.
After completing her masters degree, she completed the necessary training to become Ontario’s first ever Trained ImPACT Athletic Trainer. Since then, she has worked with local sporting organizations to develop proper Concussion Policies and Protocols for their athletes.
It is a role complemented by her role as an entrepreneur, which sees her as the proprietor of GOLD Performance Training, where she is also a strength and conditioning coach. In 2015, she built a brand new 6500 square foot training facility directly across the road from her dairy farm where she grew up.
With such close proximity to Jarrell’s agricultural roots, it is a constant reminder of the perseverance and discipline required to maintain a high standard in any pursuit. Those essential values were instilled at an early time, prompting Jarrell to constantly focus on attaining her goals. It remains a key cornerstone, positively influencing the next stage of her sporting ethos,
“Growing up on the farm has instilled in me a strong work ethic as well as other important moral values that have had a lasting impact on all aspects on my life. It was always my goal to have a training facility in a unique setting (near my farm where I grew up). The moral values learnt are built on a foundation of integrity and dedication to sport and have become the backbone behind my specialized training facility.”
Jarrell has secured partnerships with Biosteel, The Treadmill Factory and Polar Heart Rate Monitoring while Under Armour is the official Training Gear Supplier of her training facility. She works with well over 100 athletes every week (OHL, Hockey Canada, NCAA, CIS and rep athletes) of all ages and sport levels.
Employing a focus on increasing athletes' speed, strength, power, agility, endurance and flexibility specific to their sporting needs, she has also been invited by the NHL and has worked as a strength and conditioning coach at the NHL Referees Camp. Attending the OHL Development Combine every year, she works as a strength coach and assists in off-ice fitness testing.
“I knew that no matter how good of a hockey player I was, I would never make millions playing hockey like the men. So I wanted to make sure I had a great education which would make my career a rewarding one.
I can honestly say that I love what I do every day! I love helping athletes achieve their goals by way of mentorship, nutrition and strength and conditioning programs.
Each athlete whom I work with is different and I love the challenge of finding ways to improve their performance.”
The element of performance is one that Jarrell has always employed to its peak. Having spent over a decade with Canada’s national inline women’s team, Jarrell has reached iconic status, serving as a guiding hand to grow the game in her ability to rally others.
Enjoying the privilege of being a two-time world champion, subsequently enhancing her status as a living legend, it is also the source of plentiful jubilation. Reaching such lofty heights for the first time in 2012, it was more than an elusive achievement realized. Reflecting on said achievement is one that brings with it a renewed sense of pride, serving as a definitive time,
“My favourite moments have been when we were World Champs, there is nothing like it! I really enjoyed the World Championships in Colombia in 2012. We won Gold that year and in particular, (it was) special for me as my parents were there to see the win.
After our victory, we had a party bus which included a band and we drove around Colombia until the wee hours of the morning celebrating our victory.
It is a night that I will never forget. The entire experience in Colombia was incredible and everywhere we went, we had 3 police officers with our team at all times.”
As this year signified Canada’s sesquicentennial, it was only fitting that Jarrell was part of the national team that competed at the 2017 edition of the FIRS Inline Hockey World Championships. Contested in Nanjing, China, it provided Jarrell with the milestone of competing there for the first time in her prestigious career.
Surprisingly, the landmark moment nearly did not happen. While injuries are an obligatory aspect of being an athlete, their occasionally dreadful impact knows no mercy. Sadly, Jarrell was not immune to this occurrence.
With a celebrated career nearly derailed, the calendar year of 2017 appeared destined for disappointment. As Jarrell explains, it was a journey filled with a variety of ailments, one where overcoming them truly emphasized a new definition for teamwork,
“I have been very fortunate to have very few injuries in my career however this past year was a different story. After going through two bouts of shingles, doctor’s found a herniated disc in my back that required a lot of attention.
I ended up taking some time away from my career to focus on getting my health back on track. I went on a very specific treatment plan for my back which included: vigorous therapy and medication. I cannot thank the doctors and therapists whom I worked with enough for finding a way to get me better.”
A subsequent surgery brought with it unforeseen results. Refusing to be disabled by discouragement, it triggered Jarrell’s competitive desires in a whole new facet. Summoning the courage and the motivation to persist, it may have been Jarrell’s finest hour.
Overcoming such a frustrating impasse was one that saw Jarrell immerse herself in the goal of competing for Canada once again. With a strong sense of collaboration among the medical professionals that helped orchestrate her recovery, it helped nurture the essence of motivation, helping to push her in ways perhaps never considered.
Cleared for competition merely three weeks before the first face off, it provided Jarrell with fulfillment and renewal. Such a strong display of spirit during a tumultuous time revealed a fundamental truth, definitely serving as a source of inspiration for her teammates. Gaining a newfound appreciation for a venerated individual that was able to adapt quickly, the 2017 edition of the Worlds was an event truly worthy of Jarrell’s stature as a world-class competitor and a world-class person,
“In late April, I ended up having Tonsil surgery which turned out to be a very long recovery. Throughout the process, I was surrounded with an amazing group of health professionals who supported me every step of the way. I feel very fortunate to have improved as much as I did.
I was ecstatic when I was finally cleared to play in China. It was a huge feat for me after the year I had health-wise. I would not have gotten healthier without the support of my medical team, Team Canada and my family. There were certainly a lot of difficult days but it was all worth it when I put my Jersey on for the first time in China.”
With a tremendous sense of redemption and renewal, the emotional roller coaster of 2017 provided Jarrell with a remarkable reward. Her amazing career of continuity was highlighted by a milestone that has assured her a place among the game’s immortals.
Competing in China signified Jarrell’s tenth appearance for Canada’s national team on the game’s biggest stage. Not only has it established her as the foundation that connected numerous epochs in team lore, the empowering comeback involved was one highly deserving of appreciation, exemplifying her love for game and country.
“It is a tremendous honour and privilege to be able to represent Canada. I feel very fortunate to have played in 10 World Championships.
Any time you put on the Canadian Maple Leaf, it is a very special feeling. Although we never brought home the colour of medal we wanted, the experience playing in China at the World Roller Games for the first time was incredible.”
Jarrell was an essential component for Canada’s team, enjoying a 3-0 mark in preliminary round play. Recording six points, on the strength of five goals, in six games, such a peerless performance was an extension of her timeless contributions to Canada’s national team.
Defeating the Czech Republic by a 3-1 tally in the bronze medal game, it was also her tenth podium finish, (which previously included two Gold, six Silver, and one Bronze Medal) testament to her status as a living legend in the sport. Although Jarrell and her fellow Canadians always play with golden aspirations, the effort that results with maintaining a significant status as a perpetual podium contender is testament to the quality of the players that have donned the Canadian jersey,
“In Canada, we play to win Gold and having been the defending World Champions, it was tough to not be playing in the Gold Medal Game. With that being said, I could not be prouder of the heart and dedication my teammates display as athletes when we all continue to juggle careers, schooling and family commitments.
It is a very special group of girls who play for the love of the game. It is great to see how competitive our sport is getting world-wide, it is no longer just a Canada, USA showdown, and other countries have improved so much.”
At the heart of the narrative is a highly motivated and wondrous woman whose drive for success will make her a monument to the game’s heritage in the years to come. With the role of trainer and instructor signifying a seamless transition, Jarrell’s sporting impact is destined to expand. Embodying the meaning of leadership, always remaining humble about her superstar status while remaining wedded to the approach of putting the team first, her career shall certainly spur other players to greater heights, bolstering her own illuminating legacy.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credits: Scoring vs. Italia at the 2016 FIRS Worlds and action shot vs Team USA in 2017 (FIRS World Inline Hockey), Postgame celebration and team photo from the 2017 FIRS Worlds (The Jackie Jarrell Collection), GOLD Performance Training (Stephanie Trattner)