Gaining the privilege of serving as team captain in her senior season with the Ottawa Gee-Gees, Vickie Lemire followed in a proud legacy, while adding to her own. Among the group of remarkable women that have donned the C on their sweater for the proud program include Danika Smith, one of Canada’s greatest ball hockey competitors, and Fannie Desforges, the first women’s world champion in Red Bull Crashed Ice.
To finish her proud Gee-Gees career with the prestige of the captaincy was a privilege that Lemire, a human kinetics major, was very grateful for. Reflecting more than just strong leadership, the captaincy defines an amazing character and an exemplary individual who also serves as an ambassador for the program.
“To be chosen as the team captain for the team was a huge honor. Being a team captain is much more than wearing a C on my jersey. It meant that the coaches and my teammates saw characteristics in me that makes me a good leader. Of course, this title came with a tremendous amount of responsibility, which I was ready to take for the good of the team.”
Dating back to her first season with the Gee-Gees, Lemire showed the potential of strong leadership and tremendous talent. Having starred at the Cégep de Saint-Laurent, where she also graced the jersey of Team Quebec at the U18 National Championships, Lemire was a prized recruit
Getting the opportunity to play alongside the likes of players such as Carley Porcellato and Maude Laramée, their solid work ethic and commitment served as a positive influence. Undoubtedly, Lemire made an impression during the 2013-14 season. Appearing in 20 games, her playmaking skills were evident, logging 11 assists, while finishing her inaugural season with a solid 15 points.
Honored as the Réseau Sports Étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) Rookie of the Year, Lemire would also gain a spot on the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) All-Rookie Team, joining other Gee-Gees competitors in the decade to gain national recognition, including blueliner Valérie Watson and Laramée. Lemire’s inaugural season with the Gee-Gees culminated with the honor of winning the RSEQ Rookie of the Year Award. In discussing this milestone, a remarkable honor that helped to shape her confidence and mould her into a future leader, the hallmark is her unselfish play and humility,
“I came in my first year with no expectation. I just played hockey instinctively, and to receive this award was like the icing on the cake. I was very proud but little did I know at this moment that I was going to receive an award in my fourth year that would make me be even prouder, which was the leadership and community engagement award.
It for sure helped my confidence as a player, and proved to me that I belonged in this very competitive league. This confidence allowed me to make to most of my university hockey experience, which I can say now; I have no regrets.”
A significant aspect to Lemire’s legacy of strong leadership has involved many admirable facets that have taken place off the ice. Serving as the president of uOttawa’s Student-Athlete Council and a volunteer with the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS), it is testament to the sense of teamwork and friendship that allows Lemire to serve as a role model in the local sporting community. With the revelation that Lemire has also suffered from ADHD, it only adds a new level of admiration. Displaying a remarkable amount of courage, her ability to openly speak about this not only sets a positive example, it raises awareness and allows others to bravely come forward without fear of weakness.
For Lemire’s efforts, her senior season would culminate with the RSEQ award for Leadership and Community Engagement, subsequently becoming a finalist for U Sports’ Marion Hilliard Award. Since 2008, Lemire is the fifth Gee-Gees competitor to capture the prestigious conference award, joining the likes of other great hockey humanitarians such as Danika Smith, Christine Allen, along with goaltenders Cassie Seguin and Stephanie Mercier.
Closing out her career with such a meaningful milestone does more than just commemorate her body of work. It strengthens the Gee-Gees hockey commitment to enrich the community, while representing a great sense of accomplishment for an athlete as respected as Lemire,
“It’s probably the award that I have received in my hockey career that I am the proudest of. One of the reasons why I choose uOttawa was not only for the importance they attached to helping us become athletes but also the importance they put on our personal development.
My involvement with CAAWS and the Gee-Gees Student-Athlete Council was my way to give back to sport even thought I knew I was never going to be able to give to the sport, what sport has given to me.”
Following up her rookie season with a respectable 11 points in 2014-15, the season to follow was not only testament to her consistency, recording double digits in points for the third straight season, it was also defined by a special milestone.
While a significant aspect to Lemire’s career is giving back to the community, it took on a whole new level as she was as one of the instructors for Scotiabank’s Girls Hockey Day. Taking place on the ice of the Canadian Tire Centre, home of the Ottawa Senators, Lemire was joined by a handful of Gee-Gees teammates and a few rivals from the cross-town Carleton Ravens to provide instruction to young players from Canada’s capital region.
Serving as the lead instructor was multiple Winter Games gold medalist Meghan Agosta. Lemire reflects that as proud as she was to share her acumen for the game with a group of eager youngsters, she too was a bit star struck,
“One of the most rewarding things in life is to be able to share your knowledge and passion to others. This was what it is all about at the Girl’s hockey fest at the CTC. I could see myself in the eyes of those young girls and I was probably looking at Meghan Agosta the way those little girls were looking at me. Since it is a very busy event, I did not get the opportunity to have a conversation with her but I will definitely catch-up at this year’s event on April 9th.”
Although Lemire was eligible for a fifth season of U Sports hockey, the 2016-17 season would serve as her swan song. In her final season, she would record her final multi-poith performance in a hard-fought 4-3 shootout victory against the resilient Carleton Ravens in a November 20 home ice affair.
After Carleton jumped out to a 2-0 advantage after one period of play, Lemire scored the lone goal of the second period, as Shanie Deschatelets logged the assist. Of note, Lemire would reciprocate in the third, as she and fellow senior Carol-Ann Upshall earned the assists on a goal by Deschatelets, the Gee-Gees third goal of the game.
The final point in Lemire’s Gee-Gees career would take place on February 10, 2017 with an assist against the defending national champion Carabins de Montreal. With the contest taking place on the road, it signified her career truly coming full circle. Raised west of Montreal in the community of Rigaud, Quebec, minutes away from the Ontario border, it was an opportunity for Lemire to retrace her hockey roots.
Gaining an assist on Cindy Laurin’s second goal of the game, Lemire’s playmaking abilities provided the Gee-Gees with a quick 2-0 advantage against Les Carabins. Although Jessica Cormier would score a hat trick in the third period, providing the home team with a 6-2 win, Lemire’s sportsmanship and grace was another example of her distinguished approach to the game.
February would also bring with it another significant moment in Lemire’s career, bringing a close to a treasured chapter in her sporting career. Part of a graduating class consisting of eight players, including Emilie Bouchard, Alex Lafleur, Maude Levesque-Ryan, Carol Ann Upshall and Cynthia Whissell, one of the biggest in Gee-Gees program history, it allowed an emotional night for Lemire to be a shared journey.
Although the reality of no longer donning Gee-Gees colors was one that may have been difficult to absorb at first, the bigger loss goes beyond gracing the ice itself. The melancholic realization for so many athletes at the university level is the realization that a team becomes a second family, quite possibly the closest during their sporting endeavors.
While senior night brought with it sentiments of wistfulness, Lemire’s reflections are those filled with respectful admiration. As Lemire acknowledges the people that made her four fantastic years in Ottawa so memorable and tremendous, the number of friends, family and mentors makes the realization of such an accomplished career attained so much richer, resulting in an everlasting appreciation.
“I could describe my senior night with three things: A lot of laughing, crying and nostalgia. When you have dedicated the last four years of your life for hockey and you suddenly realize it is all over, it is a big shock.
Before, I thought, that what I was going to miss the most about hockey was going to be the game of hockey, but in reality it all comes down to the people. What I will miss the most about playing with the Gee-Gees are those memorable moments that I lived in the last four years with my teammates, my coaches and all the staff surrounding the team.
Special thank you:
“I would like to acknowledge several important people, who supported me throughout my hockey career and with who, I would not be where I am today without them:
My mother Celine, my father Denis, my sister Julia, my fiancé Etienne, all my teammates as well as Yanick Evola, Philippe Bergeron, Greg Bowles, Bob Bowes, Marie-Claude Roy, Jean-François Blondin and for the countless others who have contributed to my success.
Words are powerless to express my gratitude, thank you.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credits: Richard A. Whittaker