Natalie Spooner (middle right) poses with some young fans. Spooner is a two-time Olympic medalist in womens’ hockey and visited Kelowna to talk about her “Spoon Full of Dreams” event to youth hockey players along side the Grindstone Award Foundation. Photo: Grindstone Award Foundation

Olympian brings women empowerment in sports to the Okanagan

Two-time medalist Natalie Spooner joined the Girls Rock the Rink event in Kelowna

Young Okanagan hockey players are joining two-time Olympian Natalie Spooner on the ice.

Spooner is in Kelowna this weekend alongside the Grindstone Award Foundation’s Girls Rock the Rink, which helps young female hockey players get and stay on the hockey rink.

With a gold medal in 2014, a silver medal in 2018 and a successful career in both university and professional hockey, Spooner came to Kelowna to share her story of becoming a bona fide hockey star.

“I’m excited to be (in Kelowna) to share my story with the girls and hopefully inspire them to keep playing sports or hockey,” Spooner said. “Getting on the ice with them is the best part and the most fun.”

“For me, my big ‘ah-ha’ moment growing up was when I got to meet Jennifer Botterill and to see her gold medal. For these girls, hopefully, it’s something special that inspires them and lights that flame inside of them to continue pursuing hockey.”

READ MORE: 200 pro women hockey players form union in step toward league

READ MORE: Top women’s hockey player Natalie Spooner coming to the Okanagan

The Grindstone Award Foundation helps finance young women hockey players’ dreams in the Okanagan. The weekend event, Girls Rock the Rink, gets local players spending time on the ice training with both Spooner and other elite female hockey players and coaches. A hockey tournament, as well as an all-star game, gives players a chance to see what playing with a women’s national player is like while helping promote women in sports.

With the Canadian’s Women’s Hockey League (CHWL) folding earlier this year, Spooner joined the Girls Rock the Rink to help usher in new developments of a sustainable professional women’s league for future players.

“Girls’ hockey is growing faster than boys’ hockey. It’s about giving these girls the confidence to stick with it. If we can get the right support and the people behind us, it could really create a league that’s sustainable,” said Spooner, who looked forward to getting back on the ice after a few weeks away.

READ MORE: US-based NWHL OKs plan to expand to Canada after CWHL folds

“Having one of the top women’s hockey players in the world join us for a weekend of fun and inspiration will no doubt leave a lasting impression on the young players that are joining us,” said Grindstone Award Foundation president and founder, Danielle Grundy.

Spooner played with the Toronto Furies in the CWHL and had a record-breaking career with Ohio State University. She’s the first player to win the CWHL Championship and Olympic gold medal.

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