Embodying the moniker of “living legend”, the calendar year of 2018 saw Shelley Cocerkill ascend to Hall of Fame status. While Cockerill’s calendar involved a return to the Canadian Ball Hockey Association (CBHA) Nationals, maintaining her role as one of the star players for the Manitoba provincial teams (known by the sobriquet Rage), she also gained the privilege of donning Canada’s colours once again.
Competing for the national team at the 2018 ISBHF Masters in Bermuda, it marked another glorious chapter in Cockerill’s international career. Boasting a significant haul of hockey hardware, including a silver medal at the 2011 ISBHF Worlds, followed by a gold on home soil as St. John’s, Newfoundland served as host city for the 2013 edition of the Worlds, Cockerill has been able to extend her legacy by gracing the slab in Masters play.
Emerging with the gold medal, Cockerill massed four goals in tournament play, ranking second on Canada behind Colleen McQuaid. Logging the game-winning tally in a 5-1 win versus USA Red, it would be the first of two game-winners against teams from the US.
After Stephanie Brunette D’Souza tied the game versus USA Red at the 14:49 mark, Cockerill followed up 82 seconds later, scoring on USA Red backstop Heather Meister as Sheila Kirkpatrick logged the assist. At the 31:34 mark, she would log her second of the game, providing Canada with a 4-1 cushion. By game’s end, goaltender Keeley Prockiw required only seven saves in the convincing win.
Undeniably, Cockerill’s second game-winning tally proved to be the tournament’s biggest goal. Facing off against Team USA Blue in the gold medal game, Colleen McQuaid continued to hold the hot hand, opening the scoring for Canada at the 2:01 mark. Nearly eight minutes later, Kristen Patenaude tied the score, with a 1-1 deadlock following for over 20 minutes.
Finding the back of the net at 30:31, Cockerill’s goal not only secured Canada its third straight gold medal in Masters play, it allowed for a shared milestone. In addition to Maryelle Hannam, Silvia Traversa, the recipient of the CBHA’s 2018 Sarah Butterworth Memorial Trophy, gained the second assist, adding luster to a memorable year.
Having also played for Canada at the 2011 and 2013 ISBHF Worlds, garnering a silver and gold, Cockerill acquired a lifetime of memories. At the 2013 edition, hosted in St. John’s, Newfoundland, she was one of four Manitobans donning the Canadian jersey, including teammates Chantal Larocque and goaltender Delayne Brian, while Calin Wild competed with the men’s team. As Cockerill emphasizes, the thrill of representing Canada internationally, is one that she has never taken for granted, acknowledging the future holds with it an expanding talent pool,
“You honestly never know if you are going to get another chance to represent Canada, so winning gold again when you get the opportunity is very special and memorable. We also know that the competition is getting stronger and hungrier, so to be able to come out with the gold becomes more meaningful each time.
There are also many talented Canadian players so to be one of the selected to help achieve that gold medal is always an honour and a task not taken lightly. I cherish all the opportunities and am very proud of our whole team.”
As the only Manitoban on Canada’s roster at the Masters, there was also a very strong sense of civic pride. Running parallel to Cockerill’s achievement was a unique connection to her Manitoba roots.
Longtime Manitoba Rage teammate Chantal Larocque served on Canada’s coaching staff at the inaugural ISBHF Under-20 Women’s World Championships, introducing a new facet to the growing female legacy of international ball hockey.
Taking into account that Larocque inherited the captaincy of the Rage from Cockerill, a tremendous passing of the torch, they have also called each other teammates with Canada at the ISBHF Worlds. Not surprisingly, this distinguished duo were also teammates on the ice, wearing the colours of the Manitoba Maple Leafs in the now defunct Western Women’s Hockey League.
For both ball hockey icons, the prestige of international competition was enhanced by the prestige of representing Winnipeg, one which also saw fellow native Olivia Daoust suit up for Canada’s Under-20 roster, affirming a bright future ahead. Cockerill, a fixture in the Winnipeg Ball Hockey League, 16 goals 12 assists for a sterling 28 points during the summer of 2018 was the only Manitoban suiting up for Canada at the Masters. The prestige of a roster spot served to affirm her legacy as a builder for ball hockey in Winnipeg.
“In some respects there was definitely a sense of pride being the only Manitoban, especially when originally I came from the small town of Roblin, where my many people/coaches helped me develop into the athlete I am today. There is still so much support from all my Roblinite friends even at my age.
Unfortunately, though women’s ball hockey in Winnipeg/Manitoba is almost virtually non existent, which means very few people even know that there’s a league, a provincial or national team.
If there were some publicity when a Manitoban represented their county for Worlds or World Masters, I believe the sport would grow and Manitobans like myself who get the opportunity to represent our province at the national level would feel more of a civic pride.
I hope one day it gets to this point as ball hockey is a great sport and the ball hockey community, including the CBHA, is amazing.”
Before the first faceoff at the Masters, Cockerill entered the event having gained a tremendous momentum. Earning entry into the CBHA Hall of Fame, it served as Cockerill’s crowning achievement. Of note, it was actually the second Hall of Fame in Cockerill’s athletic endeavors. Gaining entry into the Valley City State University Viking Hall of Fame in 2007, Cockerill, who graduated in 1995, was a four-year letter winner in volleyball and softball.
From a CBHA perspective, Cockerill enjoyed numerous highlights, including the chance to compete on home soil at Winnipeg’s MTS Centre at the 2009 Canadian Ball Hockey Championships, with the captain’s C adorning her jersey. Gaining Most Valuable Forward honors at the 2010 CBHA Nationals, following it up with All-Star honors in 2012, dynasty and destiny would collide for Cockerill.
Erika Pouliot, who served as one of the coaches for Canada at this year’s Masters earned the Scoring Title in 2010, while Isabelle Aube, the 2010 Tournament MVP, has called Cockerill a teammate in both ISBHF Worlds and Masters play gained honors. Coincidentally, Aube was also named the MVP of the 2018 Masters, respectively.
The All-Star recognition of 2012 saw Cockerill stand shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow All-Stars (and luminaries) such as Natalie Girouard, who was won three gold medals in Masters Play, along with fellow Manitoba Rage teammate Jocelyne Larocque, the younger sister of Chantal. As a side note, Brigitte Lacquette, who played with Jocelyne on Canada’s entry for women’s ice hockey at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games, called Cockerill a teammate at the 2018 edition of the CBHA Nationals.
“I honestly never even dreamed (that) I would ever be inducted into the CBHA Hall of Fame, so to be even have considered would have been a great honour. I was shocked and overcome with joy when I heard the news. I am extremely proud to be among so many elite members and to be named to that list.
Ball hockey has given me so many great experiences, challenges and overall enjoyment, so to know that my hard work and dedication was recognized at that level is truly amazing.”
Although Cockerill has a lot more competitive hockey left, her experience and acumen holding potential for a possibility in coaching and/or administration, her continued love of play makes her an asset for any team that she is involved with. Employing a sincere enjoyment of the game, empathic leadership and sharp playmaking instincts on the court, such values stand as one of the great hallmarks in her splendid Hall of Fame career, which gained a golden extension in Bermuda.
“It is extremely special as it keeps all of us young at heart and striving to continue to be the best we can be at a sport we all love. It means a lot to me as well because being from Winnipeg, where I play co-ed because our women’s league is not very strong. (It) allows me to play with women who are all so talented. It is (also) an incredible opportunity to still play ball hockey at this high level at my age.
For me, Bermuda was the best World experience thus far, even though heading in I was a little leery about playing outside in the heat. It was totally unique and the atmosphere and people were unbelievable. I really took the time this go around to get to know all of our ball hockey family, which made it so much more meaningful. It is definitely a ball hockey adventure that will never be forgotten.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Images obtained from:
The Chantal Larocque Collection and the Fannie Desforges Collection