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October 5, 2010

Olympic gold medalist comes to Brescia to share a vital lesson in leadership

Olympic gold medalist

London, ON – Sami Jo Small played hockey with the boys as a young girl because that was the only option available to her. At age 34 her hard work, love of the game, and dedication to sharing her passion with others has won her three Olympic medals, five World Championships, and the role of vice chairman of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL).

In a lecture of Brescia University College’s Sophia Series on October 12, Small will be sharing A Vital Lesson in Leadership: Embracing your role on the team with a community audience that will include young female hockey players in the London Devilettes Girls Hockey Association. Small played hockey on male teams until she completed her B.A. in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University so she is enthusiastic about addressing young female hockey players.

“As an athlete you get a group of friends that have similar issues and interests while remaining active and healthy. Making fitness part of our lives is especially important for the young adolescent girl who can often be forced out of sport because it’s not cool, or because the boys don’t think girls should play sports, or because they have poor body images. If you’re introduced to sports as a young girl you’re more likely to make it part of your life for good. Fitness should be lifelong and pleasurable.”

Small just celebrated the 12th anniversary of the Sami Jo Small Female Hockey School, training nearly 400 women annually, and is a founding member of the CWHL – the premier women’s hockey in the world. She hopes the league will set an example for girls, women, and sport globally. “I want us to make it a professional league, where women from around the world can come and play and hone their skills. People ask me why women’s hockey teams in other parts of the world aren’t as strong. It tends to be because of society in those countries, not coaching or funding.

“I want us to develop a league that encourages women and young girls from across the globe to look up to these women as heroes that they can see on a weekly basis – not just every four years. To see little girls dream about playing in the CWHL – just as boys dream of playing in the NHL – that’s my goal.”

Recognized for her leadership on and off the ice, Small looks forward to sharing her thoughts on the subject at the lecture sponsored by Brescia’s Institute for Women in Leadership (iWIL). “To me there’s leadership by proxy, such as when you are the head of the company or the captain of a team, because someone appoints you there. To me, real leaders are ones that inspire others. Real leaders aren’t necessarily placed in a position of power but make a difference in other people’s lives.

“Today you have to be better than you were yesterday. Simply try to forge ahead every day and try to make a difference. Ultimately you’ll get to where you want to be.” Small is enjoying her work with the CWHL and as a professional speaker, and while she realizes she may not play competitively for many more years she hopes to play recreational hockey for the rest of her life.

The lecture will be held in the auditorium of the St. James Building at 7:30 p.m. Admission to the event is by donation and parking is free. For more information about the iWIL lecture of the Sophia Series, please visit www.iwil.ca

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Brescia University College, Canada’s premier women’s university college, is affiliated with The University of Western Ontario. The 1,100 women registered as either full- or part-time students at Brescia study a wide variety of subjects in Arts, Social Sciences, and Foods & Nutrition in an empowering, compassionate, student-centred, and invigorating environment. Degrees are granted by Western. The Catholic College welcomes students from all backgrounds and values diversity. For more information, please visit www.brescia.uwo.ca

To arrange for an interview with Sami Jo Small – by telephone in advance of the event or during the time designated for media on the day of the event – please contact:

Julie Maltby
Communications, Marketing & External Relations Officer
E-mail: julie.maltby@uwo.ca
Phone: 519.432.8353

For more information about the event, please contact:

Kate Norton
Director of the Institute for Women in Leadership (iWIL)
E-mail: iwil@uwo.ca
Phone: 519.432.8353, ext. 28250