For elite world class talents such as Jocelyne Larocque, the off-season brings with it an opportunity to contribute to the game in a rather unique facet. While the outlook towards the upcoming season presents with it opportunities for restoration and renewal, it also allows for a profound athletic milieu where a focus on skills training also intersects with fun.
As Larocque adds to her own hockey legacy with the role of entrepreneur, the foundation of her off-season sees her transform into the exciting position of instructor. With her enterprise, Hamilton-based Stoke Strength Training and Conditioning as her vessel for new ideas and programs, one of the most compelling involves her Adult Hockey Camps.
Combining indoor and outdoor dry land training, along with a skill session plus the scrimmage itself, Mohawk 4 Ice Centre was the backdrop for a camp where all skill levels were welcome. Adding an element of fun was the various challenges presented to teams throughout the event, along with the jubilation of the winning team being photographed atop the Stoke Podium. Such an uplifting concept places high value on enjoyment and sportsmanship.
“My favorite part was seeing all the participants let loose and have fun! It was a lot of fun putting together the scavenger hunt!”
With 2017 marking Stoke’s second annual Adult Hockey Camp, its origins were found in a series of weekly sessions. Therefore, the chance to expand it into a camp was an ideal concept. The remarkable result is the flowering of skills, friendship and the thrill of athletic competition are woven into one of the enterprise’s most dynamic events of the summer.
“We run weekly adult on ice skill sessions and during a hockey camp we were running they mentioned how much fun it would be if they got to do it so we decided to start running Adult Hockey Day Camps.”
While the cheerful presence of a role model like Larocque adds remarkable luster, bringing a heightened sense of importance and a major league feeling (just imagine baseball fantasy camps), there is also the heartwarming sense of paying it forward. In her three seasons with the Brampton Thunder, which included serving as the last captain in franchise history (the club relocates to the York Region community of Markham for the 2017-18 season), Larocque empathically donated her time for numerous charitable events, including participation in a fundraiser for The Women of Winter (TWOW).
Founded by Deirdre Norman, whose body of work has involved serving as a volunteer in the CWHL, along with helping organize a tournament in Norway, TWOW has developed into an intricate hockey network whereby adult women can participate in recreational hockey, entrenched in the city of Toronto’s female hockey lore.
Fostering an influential sense of community, fair play and enjoyment, an arsenal of players from both the Thunder, and their eternal rivals, the Toronto Furies, have taken to the ice in numerous TWOW fundraising tournaments, allowing many recreational players the milestone of calling them teammates, bringing an element of grace and class to such events.
The chance to see an incredible player and person like Larocque take on this great role with her enterprise provides a great sense of pride for Norman. Representing so many of the admirable values that encompass adult hockey, Larocque’s presence also allows for the participants to regale in a shared fandom. Undoubtedly, Norman is very proud to see such a world-class talent take an interest in providing another venue for adult hockey.
“For us women who play hockey particularly if we started as an adult, there is no dream of winning the Stanley Cup. There never has been. And for many of us there was no dream at all. That has changed in the last few years with the growth of the CWHL and the high profile of our Olympic women players.
Even better are the opportunities provided by elite women hockey players like Jocelyne Larocque who organize adult rec hockey tournaments. We get to play with the best. How many can say they played on a line with an Olympian?
Jocelyne not only dedicates herself to being the best she spends time and energy reaching out to those of us who can only dream. It makes me proud to see her create connections with her fan base, to encourage us to love the game and, by sharing it with us at these tournaments she instills a respect for our sport. We need people like Jocelyne to live the dream for us.”
While Stoke represents a labor of love for the energetic Larocque, it subsequently serves as an extension of her love of the game. For people drawn into her orbit, they are privy to a compelling yet hard-working individual whose down to earth demeanor is truly inspirational.
Although the upcoming season shall see Larocque aim for another opportunity to compete in women’s ice hockey at the Winter Games, her standing as a world-class athlete is only strengthened by her kindness as a world-class person. Motivated and gracious, Larocque’s transformation from hockey icon into business woman is a subject of both admiration and inspiration.
Proving that women can have rich and fulfilling careers while remaining close to their sporting roots, Larocque’s ability to run her own business and make her mark as an entrepreneur are truly a great source of inspiration. In speaking about what she enjoys most about this amazing chapter in her athletic odyssey, her empathy and compassion shines, quick to recognize that the bigger picture is one where success is truly shared,
"Working with young athletes and helping them chase their goals and dreams.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Images supplied by Stoke