Ste. Anne's Jocelyne Larocque was one of three Manitoba players named to the Canadian Women's team that will represent the country at the Beijing Olympics which start on February the 4th.

"It was just pure joy", Larocque says of getting the phone call to inform her she was on the squad. "Happiness. I feel lucky, honoured and grateful. I'm really, really excited."

Being told she was on the team was of course, a thrill but seeing how Hockey Canada made the announcement, having young female hockey players say the names while wearing their jersey's was something Larocque and her teammates won't ever forget.

"It was pretty cute," she recalls. "We were watching, all spaced out for distance, of course. And actually we were not told anything. We had no idea so, we were all just watching it like everyone at home would be watching and to see those young girls skate up with our jersey's and announce our names... I hope for them it was a really neat experience. It was an awesome experience for us. We were laughing and smiling. We talked about it all day after. It was a really creative way to do it and I hope those young girls have memories to cherish forever because I know we'll cherish those memories forever."


Larocque says that this year, the Olympic experience will be quite different, but she looks forward to not facing it alone.

"It's definitely going to be different," says Larocque. "I don't even know how different it's going to be. We're still learning how it's going to be, what the protocols are going to be. We actually don't even know those answers but we know it's going to be very different. There will be more protocols, more rules but it's nice to be on a team because it's things we can navigate together. We're very fortunate that Hockey Canada takes care of us very well."

The way the Olympics will be run may be different, but for Larocque and her teammates, there is a job to do and that's something she has been thinking about for quite a while.

"Honestly, all year and even the past four years, the moment after 2018, our coaches and staff have done such a great job keeping focus on the process and not the outcome," she says. "It's something I try and think about for life, as well. We don't have the full control of the outcome but we have so much power and so much control over every single decision you make. So, we as a team and us as individuals really focus on that process and making every decision a team first decision. I have not been on a team that lived by that more truly. It's really neat to be a part of. You have so much confidence that everyone in that room, staff included, is so team first. They do everything with the team as the priority. It's special to be a part of and I'm just really looking forward to the next couple months."

Having done so much in the game of hockey already, Larocque is well respected and looked up to by her teammates and says having a leadership role is something she cherishes.

"I take a lot of pride in it. I love helping the younger players, supporting them, being there for them. I really try, especially on the defensive end, I try to create an environment that's calm but also fun. We have a lot of fun. We do such a good job recognizing when someone does something good. It's such a fun environment where we work hard but have a ton of fun. It's the best team I've ever been a part of. To be able to be in that leadership role, I take a lot of pride in it and it excites me."

Unfortunately, families will not be permitted to travel to Beijing to watch the games but Larocque says as difficult as that is, it will bring the team closer together in ways they will really appreciate years from now.

"Almost every day, someone in the dressing room is like 'this is going to be such a good story when we reflect back'. Something happens almost every day where we think it's going to be a great story when we look back at it. It just is what it is. Just the fact we are going and we still get to play at this level, I feel very lucky and fortunate."

While Larocque admits she doesn't have the full schedule figured out just yet, she does know, at least in the short term, what will happen over the next few days to get ready to leave.

"We're all in Calgary right now. We're training every day, right up until January 25th and then we head to China. That's about all I know. I don't know what our schedule holds there. I assume it's a lot of practices and getting ready for games."

As far as feeling added pressure as more people watch women's hockey than perhaps ever before, Larocque says it's a welcome pressure that everyone going will have to deal with.

"There are a lot of eyes on us and we're at a very vulnerable time for women's hockey. In the very near future, there will be a professional league, in my opinion. We just want to showcase the best hockey. Let's be honest, there are still people out there who don't think women can play or should play at that level or think it's a good product. It's our reasonability to prove them wrong. It's an exciting pressure. There's a lot of good things that will happen in the future for women's hockey and it's on us to show just how good of a product our game is."

The Beijing Olympics start on February 4th and will run until February 20th.