Sault Ste. Marie celebrated hometown Olympian Abby Roque in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Cloverland’s Abby (Bell) Moran highlights Roque’s hometown ties and hockey career that earned an amazing Olympic silver medal.
Q. What initially sparked your interest in hockey?
I have been surrounded by hockey my whole life. My dad is a hockey coach and I grew up with a backyard ice rink in Sault Ste Marie. I just loved the game for as long as I can remember.
Q. How did competing on nearly all boys’ teams growing up propel your game today?
It helped make me competitive. I had to fight a lot harder to be on teams and to prove that I was just as capable as the boys. In games where I was the smallest on the ice, it helped me to become tough both on the ice and off.
Q. Did your Sault Ste Marie, Michigan roots impact your hockey game?
Growing up in Sault Ste. Marie made a huge impact on my hockey game because I grew up playing boys when other girls at my level mainly played girls after a certain age. It helped me to keep learning and adjusting my game to keep up with the boys. The support I felt from the community, especially in high school when I made Sault High [Blue Devils hockey team] really let me know that people were always behind me.
Q. You’re known for being a tough yet strategic opponent on the ice. What drives you to maintain this game strategy?
I think I help the teams I play on most when I am being like that. Being able to not lose puck battles and maybe get under the other team’s skin helps the team win. Along with my smarts on the ice, setting up other people on the ice for them to succeed helps the team succeed.
Q. What was your initial feeling after learning you had been chosen to compete with Team USA in the Winter Olympics?
For sure relief - it is a stressful process as any of the other Olympians can tell you. Especially being injured for the two months leading up to cuts, it wasn’t an easy time to be competing for a spot. So, my initial reaction was relief and then just excitement that I could live out a dream of mine.
Q. Describe what it is like to be an athlete in the Winter Olympics:
It is an honor. To be able to represent USA on the biggest stage in sports is truly the greatest honor one can have - e specially looking around and seeing the other incredible athletes who worked so hard to get there as well.
Q. How do you explain the significance of being the first Indigenous women playing in the Olympics?
It is significant in the way that first I wish I wasn’t the first. It would be great for the sport if there were others before now. Being able to now be that first Indigenous women’s player for TEAM USA just means the world to me and hopefully to others as well.
Q. How do you balance the women’s athletic industry pressure with your personal goals for the game?
I balance all pressures in my life by making sure I put my best foot forward to grow the women’s side of the game - doing what I can when I can to help women’s sports. It also means that sometimes when I cannot help, I just focus on upcoming games because that is helping women’s sports in itself when we perform at our best on the stages we are given.
Q. If you had one piece of advice to give to younger athletes, what would it be?
Always have fun. It is important to work hard but if you aren’t having fun in your sport(s), it isn’t worth it!
Q. What plans do you have for the future of your game now?
I would love to see it just to continue and grow withmore girls playing hockey and more minorities playing hockey. Right now hockey is still a predominantly white, male sport. It is important that everyone feels welcome to play hockey.
Q. Any plans to inspire local athletes?
I plan to hold a hockey camp in Sault Ste. Marie, May 13-15. I am so excited for this camp and to get to be in my hometown. It will be awesome to see all the young hockey players out there and most importantly, it will be a lot of fun!
To learn more about Roque’s upcoming hockey camps at Big Bear Arena assisted by her dad, Jim Roque (Toronto Maple Leafs scout), visit abbyroquehockey.com.