While the inaugural CWHL All-Star Game was an event that signified a remarkable turning point in league history, getting one step closer towards relevance among hardcore hockey fans, there were also significant triumphs off the ice. One such victory involved the growing impact of former players as members of the media, involved in covering the happenings of the All-Star Game for Rogers Sportsnet.
The growth of women’s hockey players in media also made an impression on a current CWHL player. As one of the inaugural members of the Calgary Inferno franchise (dating back to its Team Alberta roots), Kelsey Webster has not only served as an integral member of its defensive corps, but has proudly served as team captain.
Not only is she an ambassador for the franchise, but a role model for many young female skaters throughout Western Canada. Although she was not part of the on-ice action, Webster was attending in her capacity as one of the league’s player representatives, testament to her role as a leader.
Articulate, friendly and graceful, her demeanor also made her a remarkable candidate to participate in a very special opportunity to job shadow a group of female broadcast journalists. It would prove to be another memorable experience in Webster’s remarkable career,
“To be completely honest, the job shadowing opportunity just fell into my lap, but isn’t that how good things happen in life!? I was actually fortunate enough to be attending the CWHL All-Star game as one of the Player Association Chairs and Sportsnet happened to ask for a color commentator.
I was extremely out of my comfort zone as I had never done anything like this before, but nonetheless, it was an amazing experience and an opportunity to experience a different side of the game I love so much.”
During the game, CWHL co-founder Jennifer Botterill was a sideline reporter for Rogers SportsNet (who graciously encouraged the opportunity for shadowing), while Order of Hockey in Canada recipient Cassie Campbell also provided color commentary. As a side note, Toronto Furies blueliner Tessa Bonhomme (who also participated in the inaugural All-Star Game) balances playing with a role as an anchor on TSN’s flagship program, SportsCentre.
Earning the opportunity to sit in the hallowed Foster Hewitt Media Gondola at Air Canada Centre, it would literally provide Webster with a very unique and different view of the game. Taking into account that it is also the exact same location where broadcasters announce Maple Leafs home games for Hockey Night in Canada and other media outlets, Webster may have very well had the best seat in the house.
From the gondola that has hosted some of the world’s most accomplished and respected journalists, Webster had the opportunity to see eight of her Inferno teammates participate in the action, mixed among squads for both Team Red and Team White. Of note, teammate Jessica Campbell became the first-ever rookie named All-Star Game captain, donning the C for Team White.
Later in the game, an Inferno player would make her own mark for Team Red, as Rebecca Johnston scored the game-winning goal. For her efforts, Johnston was bestowed First Star of the Game honors. In the aftermath, Webster could not help but feel Inferno pride,
“I was absolutely thrilled for my teammates who represented the Calgary Inferno. It was well deserved, they earned it. I believe that the CWHL All-Star game is something that they will remember forever. By participating in the inaugural CWHL All-Star game, those players were a part of hockey history as the first Inferno members to represent. Hopefully there will be more All-Star games to come in the future.”
Coincidentally, the Maple Leafs also competed on Air Canada Centre ice a few hours following the CWHL All-Star Game. Members of the All-Star Game rosters (along with coaches, administrators and other CWHL dignitaries) were invited to stay and watch the Maple Leafs host the Detroit Red Wings. As a side note, the Maple Leafs contest was broadcast on HNIC. Webster was among several of the empowering women of the CWHL that had the privilege to visit the HNIC set, only adding to a day filled with a lifetime of cherished memories.
Webster’s special All-Star Game experience not only complemented the historic on-ice action, it provided an encouraging message about careers for women in hockey after the final whistle blows following their on-ice odyssey. Not only did Webster handle the opportunity with the grace and tact that makes her one of the most respected competitors on CWHL ice, it sent a message about the enormous potential women have after their athletic careers to continue and serve as role models.
“I learned that play by play and colour commentating is a very challenging job and have a huge appreciation for those that have a natural talent for it. I enjoyed the experience as a whole in particular getting to see the game from behind the scenes. I enjoyed seeing the passion that was put into making everyone’s experience of the game fantastic, whether watching live or watching from home.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
HNIC photo: Image obtained from Twitter
Game action photo credit: Jess Bazal