Long reputed on the ice as a strong leader with a reliable presence, the values that defined such a sterling career for Giuliana Pallotta have translated into a new legacy on the slab. Emerging as one of the rising stars of ball hockey, the calendar year of 2018 allowed Pallotta the opportunity to experience a new milestone, adding to her growing prominence in the sport.
Along with Chantal Larocque, who have both experienced the prestige of competing for Canada internationally at the ISBHF Worlds, Pallotta joined Canada’s coaching staff for the inaugural ISBHF Under-20 World Championships in Prerov, Czech Republic.
Led by head coach Shaun Gannon, who won a bronze medal at the first-ever Masters World Cup in 2010, the squad also featured General Manager Debbie Stark, who also serves in the capacity of volunteer Vice-President of the Ontario Ball Hockey Federation’s Women’s Division. Athletic Therapist Elizabeth Pollock, who has worked in three different hockey leagues, along with contributions in basketball and lacrosse, completed the group.
Representing Pallotta’s first international appearance in a coaching capacity, the cachet of such an achievement was only outmatched by the feelings of veneration and humility,
“My initial reaction after being named coaching staff was pure excitement. I was extremely honoured to have been given such an awesome opportunity. I felt some disbelief as well, I didn’t really know if I would be chosen as I had never coached at that level before. It was definitely a humbling and exciting phone call that evening I found out.”
Jubilant at the opportunity to collaborate with a likeable individual such as Larocque, astute and gracious, on the coaching staff, it allowed for an enjoyable transition in the newest chapter of Pallotta’s ball hockey journey. Benefitting from more than just her acumen, Pallotta was also impressed by her cerebral approach.
Reflecting on the opportunity to share coaching duties with an individual that also possesses a sterling hockey resume on the ice and on the slab, it only made the milestone that much richer, finding a role model and a valued colleague.
“I could go on forever about how great Chantal is! She was absolutely incredible to work with. She has coached a number of teams over the past few years and it showed when coaching at the World level. She is composed and very strategic as a coach and I feel we worked well together.
Our coaching styles and personalities blended very well and I really aspire to become a coach like her, she really inspired the girls and made coaching the team that much more enjoyable.”
Enjoying a landmark 2017, which included graduation from Wilfrid Laurier University, where she was also a finalist for the Outstanding Women of Laurier Award in recognition of her on-ice heroics and volunteer work with mental health and young girls struggling with eating disorders, the year also allowed the experience of elite competition in multiple facets of the game.
Capturing a gold medal in the same year at the provincial and national levels with the New Tecumseth X-Treme, followed by a spot on Canada’s contingent at the ISBHF Worlds, emerging with a bronze medal, Pallotta gained standing as a world-class player. By year’s end, she gained revered recognized by the Ontario Ball Hockey Federation with its International Player of the Year Award. One year later, she would add to her haul of hockey hardware by representing the X-Treme on the 2018 CBHA Nationals All-Star Team.
Worth noting, the strong leadership acquired during Pallotta’s university years also involved serving as a counsellor at Laurier’s Female Hockey School. Acquiring the strong qualifications, it enabled her to approach this opportunity with a tremendous confidence.
“I believe that playing at the ISBHF Worlds assisted me tremendously throughout this coaching experience. It allowed me to relate to the girls on a personal level and I feel that it was crucial to bring my playing experience to my coaching approach.”
Employing a youthful drive and enthusiastic demeanor, Pallotta’s approach allowed the players of Canada’s contingent a celebrated opportunity to find a player that they can aspire to emulate. Additionally, her coaching duties with the national team involved a proud linkage to her own roots.
Hailing from the Greater Toronto Area, where she resides in the community of Beeton, which has merged with Tottenham and Alliston to become the town of New Tecumseth, Pallotta enjoyed a unique hometown connection.
With Canada’s roster featuring 19 players from her home province of Ontario, three also grew up in Beeton; Hannah Coons, Caitlin Goodman and Hope Mitchell. Considering Pallotta’s legacy with the X-Treme, there was a unique sense of serendipity in the fact that Kennedy Whalen, also from the New Tecumseth area graced the slab with Team Canada U20.
As Whalen ranked 12th in tournament scoring, trailing only Emma Wilson for the scoring lead on Team Canada, this highly talented gathering of players reached the gold medal game, assuring Pallotta of a podium finish. Challenging host nation Czech Republic, Coons would score Canada’s only goal of the game in a heartbreaking 4-1 final.
While the attainment of a medal is one that commemorated Pallotta’s proud coaching debut, the bigger picture revealed a tremendous feeling of national pride. Considering that the squad played for the gold on Canada Day, it enhanced the sense of achievement for all involved.
“Overall, the entire experience was great, the girls and coaching staff were really outstanding and I could not be more proud and honoured to be a part of such a wonderful group of people. That being said, my favourite moment of the U-20 Worlds would have to have been playing in the Gold Medal game on Canada Day. That is a once in a lifetime kind of moment.
It was also very emotional game for many of the girls as they were playing for their teammate and friend Avery Andrews. Although the outcome was not what we wanted, I was still proud of our team that day. They represented their country extremely well and their sportsmanship, leadership and maturity was commendable. I feel truly fortunate to have had that experience and to have lived that moment!”
Notwithstanding, the silver medal supplied a respectable final result for a very proud Canadian team. For the players, the experience to excel under the tutelage of Pallotta, who was recently named to Canada’s roster that shall compete at the 2019 ISBHF World Championships in Kosice, Slovakia, and Larocque provided the integral introduction to the game, finding mentors and friends. Undeniably, the lessons learned and the experience acquired shall serve as increased motivation, augmenting the desire for gold at the next edition of the Under-20 Worlds in 2020.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Images obtained from:
Golden Hawk Athletics (Photo by Kha Vo)
In action at 2017 ISBHF Worlds by Daniel Soucek
2018 CBHA All-Stars image obtained from Facebook