Oct. 2, 2019
Life is a juggling act for Olympic medal winner Colleen Sostorics
In the year leading up to the 2010 Olympics, UCalgary alumna Colleen Sostorics and Canada women’s ice hockey teammate Tessa Bonhomme worked on a pairs juggling routine. They practiced it diligently to kill time before their off-ice warm-up.
The Canadian team won the gold medal in the finals game against the U.S. team, one of three Olympic medals that Sostorics, BA Economics‘04, would earn during her successful career as a hockey player.
Sostorics couldn’t have known that nine years later, she’d be putting her pre-game skills to work in a completely different way.
- Photo above: Colleen Sostorics, right, and teammate Gina Kingsbury celebrate following Team Canada's 2-0 victory in the women's gold medal hockey game between Canada and the U.S. at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Photo courtesy Team Canada
Nowadays, she’s trying to balance her busy life as a mom, sports coach, mentor and honoured member of the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame’s latest round of inductees. The formal induction ceremony was held on Sept. 28 in Regina.
“My life now is the juggling act of most parents, organizing our kids’ school and extra-curricular activities as well as pursuing our own goals,” says Sostorics, who lives in Regina. In addition to her decade as a national team hockey player, she is a three-time world champion.
Sostorics is excited to be involved in the coaching programs in Saskatchewan from grassroots (including her kids’ teams) up to U18 Team Saskatchewan, as well as training to mentor and develop other coaches.
Blazing the trail as a girl on hockey teams
“When I was very young, my goal was to play in the NHL,” says Sostorics, who grew up in the small rural community of Kennedy. “I’d tell anyone who’d listen that I was going to be the first girl to play in the NHL, that I would play on the Calgary Flames and would be a linemate of Al McInnis.”
Later, she discovered women’s hockey at the Canada Games and had a new goal — to play on Team Saskatchewan in 1995. She went on to compete with the team at the 1995 Canada Games, as well as the 1997 Canadian Under-18 Championship, before moving to Alberta to attend UCalgary and play for the Dinos.
Sostorics played on boys’ hockey teams until the age of 17, as an early trailblazer who was in the first wave of girls showing that they could compete with anyone on the hockey rink — even though she really didn’t think too much about the gender difference.
“I had a unique and special experience being from a small town,” says Sostorics, who grew up with a strong sense of community. “It was just understood there were girls on the team, and we were treated as simply hockey players. We were certainly accepted in Kennedy.”
Time at UCalgary a career milestone
The importance for her of setting goals within a cohesive community became a benefit when she attended UCalgary.
“My time at UCalgary saw the beginning of my career with the national team and it was a time of great personal growth,” she says. “Moving to Calgary and pursuing my academic and sport goals was a huge change, coming from a small community. Being a student athlete challenged me and taught me about time management, commitment, excellence and goal setting.”
These days, the phrase she uses most with her kids (Luke, 7, and Grace, 4) is “practice makes improvement.” Despite all the awards and accolades she garnered as a hockey player, she considers her kids to be her greatest achievement. And just as she relied on community as a child to help her achieve her dreams, she wants to help others do so.
Former teammate Brandy West-McMaster, now a University of Regina Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies instructor, says that Sostorics is a role model for all Saskatchewan athletes and especially young hockey players.
“Combining the support and resources around her with an incredible work ethic and will to win, Colleen has made both Kennedy and Saskatchewan proud to be a part of her journey,” she says.
Sostorics has become more involved in coaching and coach mentorship in Saskatchewan and looks forward to the opportunity to give back to the sport that has given her so much.
“It’s cliché, but my advice to girls or women who are entering competitive arenas, whether it is sports or business or academics, is to simply never give up,” she says.