“As the coaches build the team from the top-down, we build it internally from the bottom-up” – Sami Jo Small The Role I Played
Small’s story opens with her first Olympic tryout in September 1997 and then cuts to her time as a goalie for an all-boys youth hockey team. The first part of the book is formatted in a way that allows her to start a story about her role as a national team player while introducing moments from her childhood, her time at Stanford University and other experiences in her life that have helped mold the person and player she is today. It allows for interesting reading as the reader jumps back and forth in time; in one passage readers are experiencing the rush of an Olympic opening Ceremony and in another they are in Small’s childhood home as she witnesses the Olympics on TV as a small child with her family.
For any hockey fan who may not have a knowledge of the original Women’s Team Canada hockey team will certainly be caught up to speed after reading this memoir. Small recounts several moments of success and heart break for Team Canada with excellent detail and precision. Readers will feel transported to the first ever Team Canada Olympic Games appearance as Small recounts her time in Nagano, Japan, touring a foreign country and watching the games unfold from the stands. Her ability to recount these flashes of time is impeccable and it keeps the reader engaged from cover to cover.
For every triumph, there is always a downturn and Small opens up about a few low points in her life. It is obvious through her experiences, Small has become someone who can overcome her obstacles with grace and acceptance. To help break up the hockey game recaps and her personal life, Small includes some funny moments she experienced with her teammates during training.
Besides learning more about Small’s experiences in the world of women’s hockey, young girls who aspire to be an Olympian or a professional player will learn through Small’s story the type of hard work and dedication required to achieve those type of goals.
The Role I Played is a story for any hockey player, fan or coach that has a love for the game and appreciation for the women who helped pave the way for many young girls who play the sport today.