Cassie Campbell-Pascall was the captain of two gold medal-winning hockey teams and currently works as an analyst for Hockey Night in Canada.
She talked to host Sami Jo Small about how to adapt to change, how to be a leader and how to get the most from a team. They delve into her career in broadcasting and the lessons she learned from her playing career that has served her throughout her life.
A full transcript of the episode can be found down below.
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Music/Man’s Voice: Welcome to Sami Jo’s Podcast. The show that is all about gaining insights from top performers as they share what made their teams successful and translate those ideas into your everyday lives and businesses.
Here is your host, 3 time Olympian, professional speaker, author and entrepreneur …Sami Jo Small.
Welcome to episode #8 of Sami Jo’s podcast where I interview the captain of 2 Olympic Gold Medal winning teams, Cassie Campbell-Pascall.
Originally, from Brampton, ON, and a leader at every level, she participated in 8 World Championships, bringing home gold 7 times. She was the face of Team Canada for many years and is still one of the most famous female hockey players in the world. Cassie went on to a career in broadcasting becoming the first women to do colour commentating for Hockey Night in Canada. She has the Order of Hockey in Canada and the Order of Canada, yet through it all is down to earth and always willing to lend a helping hand to those in need. Whether it’s one of the many charities she lends her name to, or being a mentor for so many females in sport and broadcasting she is the epitome of a great leader.
I hope you enjoy my interview with Cassie Campbell-Pascall.
Sami Jo: Firstly, I’d like to acknowledge the traditional indigenous owners of country throughout Canada and pay my respect to them, their culture and their elders past, present and future.
Sami Jo: Today, I’m so pleased to welcome my team captain Cassie Campbell-Pascall. There’s so many directions I’d love to take this interview, however, I think what would be most fascinating for our audience will be the incredible teams you’re a part of, and the amazing teammates that you’ve had led, and how this has really helped you in your current career in life. So thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy professional life and being a Mom, to be on this podcast.
Cassie: Yeah, no, thanks Sami for having me on.
Sami Jo: I’m just I’m so excited to get such an iconic person like yourself who really is, has been such a great friend to me, throughout everything. So thank you. So let’s first start talking about your original, your first your family, and the influence they had on you as a person. So your Dad, Donald sparked your hockey career, signing you up to play when you guys lived in across the border. But growing up with a Mom, like yours, like Eunice who played sports at the highest level, I’m sure that this was not the norm in her day. So this must have impacted your decision to following your brother Jeff’s footsteps and play as well. But what values did both of them instill in you that has helped you through your illustrious hockey career and now into your professional life?
Cassie: Well, I think they both kind of influenced me in different ways but I think one way that is common is you know, they both have their own businesses right. So I watched them kind of grow up and, and I watched my Dad, he was building construction, he was building buildings, high-rise buildings, and then he starts his own business and he ends up doing that. And I just watched the work ethic all along the way. And, you know, same with my Mom, you know, when my parents got divorced…
Sami Jo: So is that how you ended up in the States was with his job?
Cassie: Yeah, so he used to work for a company called Cadillac Fairview and then he got transferred to United States and that’s how I got started playing hockey in New Jersey. That’s where we lived. He worked in New York. And, you know, my brother played and he had a girl on his team. And that’s kind of where I started playing. And, like, really, if we would have stayed there, I probably would have ended up playing U.S. That’s the craziest thing about it right? Because I was only like, six, seven years old. And then I played there for two years, and then moved back to Canada and was fortunate to go on and do the things that we did. But, you know, my Mom, you know, when my parents got divorced, my Mom had to figure it out. Right? So she started her own lawn and garden business, she was in sales. And, you know, so I watched her, you know, I think just work ethic, Sami, that’s what my parents taught me and, you know, just, you know, dealing with adversity, dealing with challenges. And my brother, you know, he shot the hardest pucks he could find at me outside in the driveway, right? So he taught me about resiliency and he taught me how to be a little tougher, and I also wanted to hang out with him and his friends. So you know, they’re there as your family is their big influence on me both good and bad, right. I think we learn a lot from our families. It’s not always roses, and it’s not always positive. But that’s what family is all about. And you stick together through thick and thin. And I feel like that’s the kind of teammate I was too.
Sami Jo: Well, certainly my brother shot a lot of pucks at me, I ended up being the goalie. He went on, I mean, hit me in the face so many times. I think that I kind of credit myself with putting him into that in that next step, but I want to get back to your Mom and her career in sports. I mean, it was just so sort of unheard of at the time for women of our generation to have Moms that had a career in and of themselves in sport. That’s pretty incredible.
Cassie: Yeah you know it’s funny. My Mom told me in 1969, she played professional women’s football and I was like, yeah, whatever Mom, you know, you don’t believe your Mom, right? And you’re a teenager. And then she showed me an article. She had one article that she’d kept from it. And of course, it disbanded and it didn’t work out. And I’d always love to go back and get some more research done on that league, because I think it’d be pretty cool. But you know, she played softball, my Mom was a huge equestrian rider too. She trained jumper horses, you know, she trained horses that were in the Royal like one of the biggest…
Sami Jo: Did she grow up in Toronto?
Cassie: Yeah, she grew up in Omemee, Peterborough area. And my grandfather was a harness racer trainer, he trained harness horses and so she grew up around horses and you know, but I used to go to the barn with her every day. And you know, we’re mucking stalls and you know, training and teaching kids how to ride and you know, she was a really good rider herself really good equestrian rider. And, you know, just family and life kind of took that part over but she was always active and I always remember as a kid going to watch my Mom play softball with her with her friends, and it was all women. And I remember just hanging out with her at the barn, you know, with the horses and you know how hard she worked at that. And so she was definitely someone that you didn’t necessarily see at that time. And luckily, she was my Mom. So I kind of got to see that you could branch out and do these different types of things. That it was completely okay.
Sami Jo: And she was your hockey coach for a long time too right?
Cassie: Yeah, she was.
Sami Jo: I’m curious how her, as I had my Dad as a swim coach and I was probably one of the worst athlete for my Dad. I mean, I was, I would roll my eyes whenever you tried to tell me anything yet if somebody else tells me the same thing. So I’m curious now with you having a young daughter that you help coach sometimes in hockey? Is there things that you, how are you with your Mom? And how is Brooke with you?
Cassie: You know, first, I gotta say that you defied the odds and what people think a typical goalie is, and I say this in the nicest way, because you’re an unbelievable athlete, like, like, you know what I mean, like goalie, people think oh they just kind of stand there, and they just stopped the puck, but you could swim, you could do everything so I gotta give you a lot of credit there.
Sami Jo: Nerdy and uncoordinated. Yeah, I got the nerdiness.
Cassie: No no no, you’re an amazing athlete, I’d say one of the best athletes in our program, like all around athletes. So I forget the question.
Sami Jo: Oh, how you were with your Mom versus Brooke is hard.
Cassie: My Mom was hard on me for sure. It, I think she was hard on me as my coach because she didn’t want to, she wanted to make sure that there’s no favouritism showed and I think that was where it was coming from. And, you know, I was usually the captain or the assistant growing up. And, you know, I think she felt that was her way, like, you’re kind of hard on your leaders a little bit. And, you know, but she taught me a lot. And she was always there, which was really, really important. You know, I think I am a little nicer to my daughter. And I don’t mean to say that my mother is awful. But, you know, I kind of let my daughter get away with kind of goofing around and we approach it, the head coach, and I, like I take care of his daughter, he takes care of mine, because my daughter, like Brooke still thinks, like Mom, you don’t know anything about hockey, like, he doesn’t really get it. And so she didn’t really pay much attention to me. So I usually get the other coaches to kind of correct her and help her and stuff. And I just try and keep it fun. You know, I just tried to keep it fun with her. And we were literally spending time together. That’s what we’re doing. We’re on the ice, and it’s just her nice spending time together. And that’s kind of the way I approach it. Whereas I think my Mom, you know, she was hard, like, in a good way. But she was hard on me and expected a lot out of me and, you know, didn’t cut me a lot of slack, which I look back on now and it was very helpful for the rest of my life.
Sami Jo: Yeah, I can imagine, I think two part of it is, you know, your Mom had Jeff first and so she kind of gets this trial run. Whereas you and I only have one kid and I find it tough having only one kid to not let them get away with everything, you know?
Cassie: And to not give them too much attention.
Sami Jo: And they’re with us all the time.
Cassie: Right? So yeah, definitely. And I, you know, it’s the fine line and pushing your child and challenging your child and wanting them to grow up, as an only child, you want them to understand that there’s adversity in life, too, right. Like, they don’t get that sibling rivalry. They know, they don’t get that constant working things out with their siblings, you know, they get that through school and stuff. But, you know, it’s that fine line of giving them so much attention, loving them so much and wanting everything that’s great for them, and also letting them face real life realities. Right. And so I find that a little harder than some of my friends who have multiple children.
Sami Jo: Well, it’s easier to walk away from multiple kids. I think you just go to the next one, right? It’s hard to you then have to sit there and kind of deal with the consequences as you sit there but everybody has their challenges for sure. Moving on to your next what I will say maybe you’re great. Maybe your greatest team that you will say you were a part of. I know you’ve been to two Olympic games, you’ve captained us to gold medal performances. But the in most of the stuff I’ve read about you, you talk about one of your career highlights was winning. What was the OUIAA?
Cassie: Yeah. That’s what it was called back then.
Sami Jo: Yeah, in 1995, with the Guelph Gryphon. So what really made that team so special? And what made that memory so lasting and permanent for you?
Cassie: Well, I think because we spent so much time there, I mean, that you would go to university play hockey, you’re training together, you’re on the ice so much together, you’re eating together, you’re going to the library together, you’re in class together, like you literally become this family. And I think what made that group so special to me is that we were so different, like our veterans were so different from our young kids and we had so many multiple, multiple, strong headed personalities. And yet we found a way to have some fun in, you know, for me winning that championship with that group. We ended up playing University of Toronto, and they had like, at least seven National Team players.
Sami Jo: Is that the era of like Lori Dupuis, Vicky Sunohara?
Cassie: Yeah, Lori and Heff, Steph Boyd was there was like a whole group of them.
Sami Jo: Oh wow, Karen Nystrom was she there at the time?
Cassie: Yeah Karen Nystrom, Andrea Hunter went there was so many players and we beat them in the finals and Jen Dewar our goalie stood on her head. One of my best friends there Sarah Applegarth, she got the game winner, I had two goals, Liz Duval with our captain. We were we just beat this, this goliath of the team, right and right like this, you know, and, and I think, you know, we had a reunion about four or five years ago, in almost every single player came back. And I think that just says a lot about that group, you know, we had two or three players that, you know, unfortunately, life they couldn’t, they couldn’t make the trip. But we got back together. And despite all these different personalities, and these sort of different things that we had going on back in the day, we came back together before five years ago, and it was just like, we never, we just picked up where we left off, and you just get a chance to catch up with that group. And you know, that group, we a lot of us play, you know, we started year one together, too. So there was a core of us that kind of started year one and worked our way to year four or year five in some cases. And, you know, it was just it was just a special group of and I don’t want to say like this, but we were kind of a no-name group, right but came together.
Sami Jo: Why do you think that team was able to come together was it the leadership was it the coaching wasn’t just, you know, everybody leading from their own specific event. What was it?
Cassie: Yeah, we had a combination like we were coached by Sue Scherer who was the first ever captain of Canada’s National Women’s team in 1990. You know, Susie Yuen from Winnipeg girl’s team, like, she was an amazing, like an amazing coach and she was, you know, strict and strong and, but she was really close with the players in the sense that she wanted to know about your life, how school how’s your home, like, so she just led with this perfection that I think it trickled down to all of us and you know, our captain Liz Duval, just a terrific player, you know, really strong minded, and I think her and Sue really balanced each other a little bit. So that was good. And then, you know, myself and Sarah Applegarth, and who else Michelle Holmes, and Jen Schuler, like just so many great players and people. And I think that’s what great teams are. It’s great people who are great players. It’s not necessarily great players, who are great people, it’s pretty people first, and that team just had so many great people.
Sami Jo: And it sounds like that memory would have been everlasting. Had you not won? Could you just even made the finals, you probably would have still had that same impact in your life I’m sure.
Cassie: Well, we wouldn’t have had the reunion, right? I could celebrate that award. But the good news is we won so we got to have a reunion. But you’re right. Like, it may not be celebrated the way it would have been. But I still think that group is going to be connected forever. You know, just pick up where we left off, reach out to someone help in trouble. You know, someone will fill everybody else in and it would just be a group that would come together for each other.
Sami Jo: This episode brought to you by the Sami Jo Small Hockey School with locations in Winnipeg, MB and Oakville, ON.
Started in 1998 My philosophy is to teach in a safe, fun environment with a very individualized focus.
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Sami Jo: It’s really special that you were able to have that at such an early part of your hockey career to that then led you into the next step. So I think personally, one of the greatest things about your leadership style, and I think why we were able to kind of come together under you, was that you don’t shy away from difficult issues. And it sounds like you had that. Learn from your Mom, you had that from Sue Scherer, or you learnt those that from the people around you at a really early age. Do you feel like this was something innately within you? Like, were you that way growing up? Or did you have to sort of learn through those hard times of perhaps starting to say the more difficult thing I know, in leadership, that is, I tend to shy away from controversial issues, and I really have to push myself. Have you had to push yourself into that?
Cassie: No, I don’t think so. I think I’ve had to watch. I’ve had to be better. Because I would say something every time, right? Like if I felt there was an injustice to a teammate, or to our team, if something wasn’t going well, for a team that was my mentality. Well, this is not good for the team. So let’s fix it right like that. And sometimes that can be detrimental. Right. But it you know, for me, I grew I feel like with hockey, I was put in a position where I almost had to be that way, right? Because everyone, especially early in my career with the National Team and you know, going into that first Olympics, I was sort of that face and so everyone would come to me and any issue like I had to answer these questions. And I learned as I as I matured that I did have a voice and that it was you know, whether or not it was warranted, or I should I don’t know, but I did. So I always made sure though that I did my research and I got everyone’s opinion, you know, you were someone that I would go to. And I said this to you before and I meant this in the best way that sometimes I would go to you because I knew our opinions sometimes were completely the opposite. But I needed to hear the opposite of my opinion because And that wasn’t always the case, obviously, we agreed on many things, but I need I like to go to people that disagree with me or, or feel another way or think of different ways so that I can learn like all the different processes that are that are going around so that my voice is the team’s voice. It’s not just my voice, it’s like, researched. And you know, and I learned how to do that, I think over the years, because I think early, I wasn’t really good at it. But I do believe just being real, and being who you are, and speaking the truth, and speaking from the heart, and sometimes right away, it’s not received well but I think it always leads to change. And that’s kind of a way I approached it.
Sami Jo: I love doing the podcast with Danièle Sauvageau and hearing her take on Ken Dufton, and why she wanted Ken as a coach. And it was specifically for that reason, because Ken was, you know, constantly beating their Montreal team. So first off, she wanted to know how he did this. But she hated playing against him. And she hated him as an opponent. So she’s like, I better bring him in. Because he’s going to ask me the tough questions, he’s going to be the other side of the coin. And I think that that’s the mark of a great leader is that you are willing to have those people around you? Who are, you’re willing to listen, you never shy away from that constant conversation. You never shy away from asking. And I think as a player, we always felt valued within that system. You know, maybe you don’t go forward with the question, or the answer that we provide. But you still ask the question, which I think that to me is the mark of a great team is everybody feels like the voice is being heard. You know, moving forward, and your first time being our captain really was the 2002 Olympics and essentially sort of thrust into that, that position taking over from Thérèse Brisson, an amazing leader in her own right. But I’m curious how you heard the news. That year moving into the Olympics, and the feelings that you had going into it and then being the captain, what was really the most difficult or trying things that you had to go through before we headed to Salt Lake?
Cassie: Um, you know, I was the assistant captain. I’m trying to think was I assistant captain in‘98. Yes, I was assistant captain in ‘98. So I kind of was developing under, you know, Stacy Wilson and Thérèse Brisson and learning from them. And many others, you know, from France Saint- Louis, and the list goes on and on. And then I remember heading into the Olympic year, and I remember this, specifically, this whole thing. And we, we were brought in to a bathroom in within our locker room, you know, sometimes you play those NHL buildings and they have these big change rooms. And then they have these like gigantic washrooms off to the side. You know, you know what I’m talking about? I remember, it was myself and Wick and Vicky and Danièle Sauvageau brought us in and she said, Hey, like this, this is my group of leaders here. And she goes and she asked us who do you want to be captain? And we all looked, we all kind of look to each other. And none of us said a word. And she goes, Okay, well, I want you guys to go and meet and come back and tell me who is going to be the captain of our team. So we’re all like, okay, whatever. So we played the game, and I believe we’re in California, San Jose, I think, then we go back to the hotel that night. And literally the three of us that hotel and we just said, Hey, we’re not choosing, I’m not I don’t like we didn’t care, you know, we were whoever she picks she picks we’re the group will be, you know, fine. And, and then you know, the next day, we go back and she goes, Okay, who’s the captain? And to be honest with you, no one said anything at first. And then finally I spoke up and I said, Hey, we’re not going to choose, you’re going to choose the captain and we don’t care, we’re here, we’re going to play the same, we’re going to do the same things and I think at that moment, when I spoke, she realized who the captain was and I don’t keep away from Wick and Vick because you know, that, you know, all three of us could easily have been the captain so. But I think just, we had such a great group and that thing with our three, the three of us in particular, like you think of Vicky sort of, you know, the intense and fun loving and, you know, go through the wall for anybody and Wick had those same qualities except sometimes the fun loving was missing, right?
Sami Jo: In a very different way.
Cassie: Very different way.
Sami Jo: But yeah. We trained hard because Wick trained hard. I mean, yeah, she pulled us all along in a very different way than Vicky pushed us. Hayley dragged us well, so yeah.
Cassie: And then I was in the middle, right. I was sort of like I could be hard, I could be intense, like, feisty and I’ve been loving and so I think we were just, we were just a great group of three. And that’s kind of how it went down. Next thing you know, she pulls me, she’s like, you’re going to be the captain. Okay. And the hard thing for me was Thérèse to be honest with you because she was our captain and I was replacing her and so having that conversation with her, you know, she was amazing. And she came up and congratulated me right away, right away. And, and, you know, eventually over the, you know, the next couple of weeks, we had a conversation and she understood that this wasn’t me, you know, this was assisted by the coach and, and I always relied on truth, you know, even though she wasn’t a captain, I always relied on her for it same with you like just advice and, and she was someone that sometimes told me the opposite opinion too. And, and I always appreciated her intensity and what she brought. So it was just an interesting thing. And yeah, it was, Sauvageau wanted us to pick it. And we’re like, No, we’re not.
Sami Jo: So, I mean, I think that the three of you guys worked so well together. And you know, as you perfectly described, you came at it from such different angles that I don’t think she, you could you could, you could have put another probably 10 people in that group. And great, but the way that you guys, I guess then took over really made the impact, like that was, you know, I think you guys were everlasting.
Cassie: Well Sami, I captained a team full of captains, like who’s kidding who? That that group of women in particular that understood the connection to that 1990 team moved into those 2002 years. And then we brought in some young players, but they still understood the tradition. Like you, you look at that roster. And other than our goalies of course, but still there you guys are great leaders, like everyone was a captain or an assistant on their club team? Like everyone? So it’s, it wasn’t a difficult task, there was some difficult times, but it wasn’t a difficult task. And we just had an amazing group of women like that group of women, I really think set the strongest foundation in women’s hockey that generation.
Sami Jo: And, what do you think made that team so special, do you think it was the understanding of tradition, you know, what I, what I personally think was that we came along in this era, where it was, it was still okay to kind of be you. You didn’t get scouted at a young age. So you, we had this whole life that we brought to the team and not to say that the team itself today is not built up of great people. But we had such a diverse background and thought, and that that was really celebrated within the locker room in a much different way than I think leading into say Vancouver even was, you know, like, I would say that from ‘99, to kind of 2004ish, kind of that era of women that really had to fight for the chance to play even like it just had this fierceness to them. That I don’t think you can duplicate again, because that doesn’t exist anymore.
Cassie: Well, they grew up with a lot of adversity trying to play hockey, like, so you better love it. And I think that’s what made that group stand out so much is that like Sami, we just love the game. Like, you know, we pushed for things behind the scenes we bought for things. But we played because we loved it. And we showed up and if they gave us a hockey Canada t-shirt, we were like, Oh my gosh, this is amazing thing. And our you know, we appreciate it when we walked in and our jerseys were hanging in our stalls. And we kind of understood those. That generation understood where it was and where it was going. And then where it’s gone. But I truly believe that generation more than any other place for the love of the game, because we face so much adversity trying to play it growing up. Like we heard the naysayers, as we walked into the arenas, we barely had girls teams to play on, right, some of us did, depending on where we lived, you know, we just faced so much adversity, be dressed in little rooms, and then went into to play with boys, you know, we had, I don’t know that that’s the big thing with that group to me is they absolutely loved the game and would do anything to play it at the highest level possible. And, you know, it showed in the way we played and how we won. And that we knew how to win you how to come back to your town. You know, we knew how to hold the lead. We just knew how to keep the group together. And we knew that we were all different in some way. We all brought different things to the table. We respected that about each other. And I think that was really, really important to our success.
Sami Jo: And how do you replicate that when things are perhaps there is more available, there’s more opportunities. You know, the same can be said for families of, you know, first generation Canadians who fight for that ability to get to that next level? How do you know we as parents who can now provide for our for our children, still give them that adversity? How does a team provide that adversity for elite level athletes who I’m sure love it I mean, they love the game, you know, there just isn’t necessarily that construct that we had to go through. So how do you replicate that? Or how do you think?
Cassie: Well, I look at this current generation, and I wonder if maybe they’re facing the most diversity that we’ve ever faced as a program. Because they’re not allowed to play at the elite level, like it’s there, and they don’t, you know, they’ve gone, what, 750 days without games to play, you know, their league folds. You know, just, you know, obviously COVID, which it’s hit people in more serious ways. But this group, honestly, when I first started working with this group, I wasn’t sure what I was going to find out, like, I didn’t know many of them. I mean, I knew who they were, but I wasn’t sure. And they changed my attitude about the young athletes, they want to get better every single day, they are willing to put their careers on hold for what they feel is better for the game and that’s hard to do. Like, that’s really hard to do, especially, you know, as you’re getting into your 30s. And, you know, knowing that your career is coming to an end, and this group of women from around the world, have kind of stuck together. And I’ve learned that it’s a different generation, they, they, you know, they, they look at social media, they want to know, the lights, they, you know, they have sort of different way of putting them out there as well. There’s like, even though I was sort of, like the face of the game, I always was like, you know, trying to deflect it. And, you know, it just was our generations way, now they’re out there, and they got their outfits on, and they’re like, you know, they’re just having so much fun.
Sami Jo: Can you just imagine our girls at that age, oh, my God, what they’re gonna be like, Oh, yeah,
Cassie: Yeah. And I, I just think that it’s, they do handle adversity. And I think they have more adversity, to some degree headed their way because of social media. You know, those who wanted to be like, I wouldn’t read a magazine if I didn’t want to see something specific about the way a woman’s body should be. I just didn’t read those magazine but now they’re being bombarded on their phones every single day about images and the way women should be fighting for equal rights. And, like, you know, everything is just at them 24-7. And so I give a lot of advices athletes on how they handle adversity, how they streamline and stay focused and I’m not sure if I’ve seen and, you know, you and I had so many great people, and we were driven ourselves, but I’m not sure I’ve seen a more driven group of women than this generation. And, you know, especially in our country, we haven’t won a lot, you know, we haven’t won a lot in a long time. And, you know, they feel it, and they wear that, and they’re, they’re upset by it. And so, I’m just so proud of like, I wasn’t sure if they knew how to face adversity, and I gotta tell you, Sami, meeting these women and being around them, they take adversity, and they just smash right through it. And it’s been really amazing to watch and, and their whole focus is always about how do I get better every single day. And it’s, it’s, it’s just so much fun to watch. It’s really refreshing for what my perspective was going in?
Sami Jo: Well, I think anybody that works in the corporate environment, I think, at first, it is that hesitancy because it’s, they are so different from us. But then once you start to realize what they can bring to the table, and what they have already gone through, you’re right with the social media, surrounding their lives, they have this ability to adapt to so many different situations. And you and I were talking a little bit earlier about, you know, if there was ever a group that could go through something like this over the course of two years, you don’t want to wish it upon anybody. But this group has the strength and the resiliency to come through, and hopefully with flying colours. So I look forward to watching them play when I actually get to watch.
Cassie: I know, like when is that going to that happen?
Sami Jo: Right, right. Anyway, let’s not go there
Casssie: Anyway, let’s not go there.
Sami Jo: Let’s go back and talk about some of your teammates. So I want to know, from your perspective, Who were some of the teammates that you think? First, let’s start who do you think you clicked best with on the ice?
Cassie: Do you know what Sami think that was one of my strengths as a player, you know, when I was a defence in my first Olympics and then asked to play forward, like, you know, my first reaction was, am, I think make this team like, how do I make this team right, like these girls playing women playing for their whole life. But that I think was my strength is I truly believe I can play with anyone. So if you want me on the first line, which on our team would have been Wick and Goyette, who aren’t easy to play with, because they are so talented, and they demand a certain presence, they demand, you know, you don’t miss a pass. If it’s on your stick, you get it, you make a perfect pass. Like that’s, that’s the way they play. And not everyone could play in that sort of stressful environment. But I could, I could play on the third line. You know, what do you want me to do? Yeah, okay, I’ll play with her. And I think that was my strength. I, I never, I never looked at the board of the lines, whether it was the first time the fourth line. Like I looked at my line, like, Oh, my God, what an opportunity. I can’t wait. Oh, my God, we’ve never played before this is going to be so amazing. And I remember I played with them and played with Heff one year and it was Kelly Bechard, that was with us. And that was our line and it was the first time was thrown together. And I think it was Like 2000 Worlds maybe in Mississauga, I, you know, we were great. And then they put Botts with us because we’re down and we ended up scoring and, and like, it was just that’s the way I approached it like, what do you what do you want me to do? What position you want me to play with lines you want me to play on? And that’s why I think I played as long as I did because I have that attitude. You know, I never you’re a goalie, right? But you get the sense of the one, two and three, who’s our number one, user two, or three? And, and that’s different because you have that one game right that one time. But for us as players, you look at the board and you think that first line, second line, third line, fourth line, if you see your name on the fourth line, but some people were like, you know, and I was like, Alright, here we go like you don’t let’s make this the best fourth line possible. And I think that’s I was lucky enough I could play with anyone didn’t. And no one’s personality bothered me. Like if you know me, I was kind of like bit more happy go lucky and try to always be positive but I was intense. But no one’s personality bothered when I was playing.
Sami Jo: Who maybe off the ice to be better to want to, you know, perform better on the ice. Was there anybody in Calgary specifically that maybe it’s the Oval that love to train with? Who you just really gelled with?
Cassie: You know, my first Olympic site, I asked to train with Laura Schuler, because Laura Schuler was jacked.
Sami Jo: And was intense.
Cassie: 85 push-ups or chin-ups. And like I that time I could do like four.
Sami Jo: I played with Laura in Brampton. Oh, yeah, she was, I mean, she was the one ripping your head off as a goalie every single practice? Yeah.
Cassie: So I was like, I need to get stronger, I’m gonna train with Schu. And she needed to be better at cardio. And, you know, and that was my strength. So she’s like, they were perfect match. So we would push each other. And, you know, I think everyone did. The Oval was interesting. You know, what I really liked the best with the Oval, Sami, is that you could train with other athletes. Because we, you know, we were always together and we’re always pushing each other. But at the same time you watch the speed skater do leg day, you think, okay, I’m never going to be able to lift that much weight, but I could try to at least get a little closer. And so, you know, then we would do an upper body day and they would look at us and be like, Oh, I probably could try and lift a little more.
Sami Jo: And so you guys had the skaters there you guys have wrestlers there. What other athletes did you have around?
Cassie: You know speed skaters predominantly, but we had skiers come in, you know.
Sami Jo: Did you have some swimmers probably.
Cassie: Yes. swimmers. Yeah. You name it. I think summer and winter athletes which was pretty cool. Mostly winter I guess just because it was the Olympic Oval. But there you often see swimmers and summer athletes come in and just watching them and their routines. Like I really enjoyed that. We had a really cool group there like Colleen Sostorics Danielle Goyette, Kelly Bechard
Sami Jo: Dana Antal?
Cassie: Dana Antal. And we were all different in our, the way we trained and our body types. And so we really did push each other a lot and it was a full time to live in like, which was unusual back then for it to be like a professional program. We weren’t paid but it was professional.
Sami Jo: Yeah. Tell us a little bit about the Oval because I think, you know, today’s generation doesn’t really know this. Essentially, what women’s hockey is fighting for essentially existed? With the Olympic Oval I, you know, I say that it did with the Toronto Aeros and Ken Dufton did his best to sort of create this whole program. But really in Calgary, that was the preeminent program, in the day and Danièle Sauvageau is attempting to recreate that in Montreal, which is amazing but you guys had that. So tell us a little bit about that experience?
Cassie: Well, the Olympic Oval was tough, because with all due respect to the Edmonton Chimos who really was the longest standing, women’s hockey organizations at that time, we didn’t have anyone to play, because we had like 15 Olympians on the team. And, you know, we were pretty good. And so we, because we’re good. Yeah, it was tough to find teams to play games, to be honest with you, and I, you know, I love the Edmonton Chimos and, and, you know, we had the Strathmore Rockies eventually, but we often played men’s teams, boys teams to keep up sort of the competition but it was full time. You know, you’re on the ice every day, sometimes twice a day or training every day, sometimes twice a day. Like it was if you were a full time hockey player, really. And it was a high performance, everything about it environment, but the toughest part was that you know, the toughest part was that you that group was training to make the National Team so how do you make that Olympic Oval team a team right when everyone is on their own individual thing? And I feel like that was one thing I tried to change as soon as I got there, like we were in a hockey team here guys like we you know, we got to be competitive. And yes, we’re all trying to make the National Team but we want to win our games and we want to have fun doing this and you know, that was one thing I was kind of proud to bring to that environment. But it was a high performance, individual based program that basically took your hockey to a whole other level. You know, we had skills coaches, and our, you know, our coach and Tomas Pacina was one of the best coaches I’ve ever had. And, you know, for me, it was, you know, getting out of Toronto to where it was like, he could go to an event every night, and you had all these commitments off the ice that I just, I needed to kind of get away from, like, I just, that was the time when it was sort of at the height, and I, I needed to get away from it. So that was one of the big reasons I moved out here. And I knew I just needed to take care of myself a little bit better. And it was a perfect environment for me.
Sami Jo: And what made Tomas so great as a coach, why do you say you loved him as one of the best coaches?
Cassie: Yeah, I learned so much from him because, like he treated us. I hope this is okay to say treated us like men. I mean, he pushed us and he wasn’t afraid to push us and the skill stuff, he kind of brought over all that skill stuff from the Czech Republic, and that one on one sort of attention skill stuff. And, you know, he, you know, look on video with you on a two on one when you should make the pass. Why did you make the pass here and here and he would give you little tips.
Sami Jo: And this would be in the 2000’s we didn’t have video. So yeah, this might seem like commonplace for some of the listeners that we looked at video, but I don’t remember seeing video with the National Team really until probably 2006. Like the 2005-2006 season where we sat down and watch video, but leading into Salt Lake, we saw highlights, but it wasn’t like you sat down with your coach and actually looked at like, it just wasn’t available. Right? Yeah, the fact that he did that was probably revolutionary.
Cassie: Yeah, it might have been a little different for a goalie, because I remember going back and watching games but it would be after the fact.
Sami Jo: Right, like, right, but you’ll watch the whole game.
Cassie: Yes, for sure. Right.
Sami Jo: Yeah. It wasn’t like, fast forward. Yeah.
Cassie: Whereas Tomas, he would get these little clips, we’d have him on his laptop, and he would show you different things. And I think he introduced me to that, you know, and he, because it was an individual based program, he could give you that more individual time and skills that I just learned about shooting and skill work and little things you could do to try and score on a goalie and you know, not that it helped me but you know what I mean? Just like he was just so he was just so good.
Sami Jo: Imagine if you had not learned that. You never give yourself enough credit, because I think that, you know, people always ask me what it was like play against Cassie Campbell. And I’m like, you know what, she looked like she could never score. She’d come down and put the puck in the net. And you’d be mad at yourself. You’d be mad because you’re like, what the heck. And I really I equate it with Cammi Granato. Same thing. I was thought with Cammi, like, what’s this player doing out here? Like what? You know, what is she doing? She’s in this open ice, but she’s nowhere near the play. And then all sudden, she has the stick, like the puck on her are sick and she puts it in and you’re like, and that’s what you were like in practice. All of a sudden, you have the puck and you’d be in front of me and you score it, tuck it between my legs and I could like see it go through my legs or see it going in and I’m how did she do that? Imagine if Tomas had never taught you that?
Cassie: Yeah, I was a defenseman who was transferred to a forward and I swear I never got out of the habit of passing like I would pass on the breakaway too like I always you know and plus I played with Wick and Goyette for the large part of my forward career and so that’s my job just get them the puck
Sami Jo: And they are probably shouting for you to give them the puck too.
Cassie: Yeah, let’s face it I was the one who got the puck and moved it to those that can score like a Heff and Goyette.
Sami Jo: Well, you don’t give you enough credit because I can remember practice you scoring a lot of goals and I can joke about it now. But clearly you learned that from probably Tomas just, like instilling in you 1000 pucks a day, whatever it was, you guys are shooting, shooting, shooting.
Cassie: Yeah, it was, that was the thing. No, I had a shooting coach when I was with the Olympic Oval, who I hired and everything was individual base that was the specific, you know, thing about the program and when I got there, though the environment was just it was it was individual based, and I didn’t like it right. I you know, me, I just so we ended up doing we had a lot of fun. And I think we changed the way that program thought that you can still be individual based and have fun as a hockey team. And the importance of hockey being a team sport you need to do high performance is about teaching people to be team players and team athletes. And so yeah, it was it was a lot of fun. I’m glad I made the move. And obviously, you know, I am out here and live here and my husband’s here and my daughter, so it was a good move for me.
Sami Jo: Nice. Okay, well, let’s change tracks a little bit and talk about some of the maybe resiliency, I think that’s probably a key phrase right now for people during the pandemic and you had talked about being a defenseman and being asked to play forward the year after you won top defenseman in the world. So, here you are in a new environment being asked this and you did it. Then going into 2006 Olympics, you had what was essentially a debilitating back ailment injury. And that can’t have been easy. Then you get on, you get in with Hockey Night in Canada. And like a month later, they’re like, here, you’re going to do colour and be the first female and we’re going to tell you the day of. And here you go. Just go to it. And every time that I saw, I saw you go through those challenges those obstacles, you always remain so positive around the team. And I’m curious if that if you learn that and what you kind of felt outside of that. And you always were seeming to look to the future. And you always wanted to bring the best out the people around you no matter how hard or difficult the circumstances you were in. So when you’re speaking to groups, when you’re instilling this message and others, how do you teach others to be that resilient? How do you? How do you spark them to have those feelings of let’s just move forward? Let’s just keep going through it all?
Cassie: Well, I don’t know if I have this perfect recipe for it but I think that part can sometimes be a little innate. And you know, in 2006, it was a neck injury that…
Sami Jo: I thought it was your back.
Cassie: It was it was it was my back too but it was my neck injury. And you know, I had to, I had to come in early Doug Stacey was our trainer and I would be there before him and I get my heat pads on and I put them on my back too. And I get them on my neck. And then I had to do all these exercises. And for me, I never wanted anyone to see that I was kind of weak, right? But like you guys all do that last year was just a struggle. But you know, you’re still the captain of the team. So you still got to show that you’re okay, I got this and I’m good. But I think resiliency is, is just being able to quickly analyze the situation, you know, it’s like, Okay, this is a high pressure situation, you either sink or swim, and you have a choice. And my choice is always I want to swim, I want to get through this, and I want to go and it’s sometimes it’s not easy, of course you face adversity, but I always think that you learn, you know, you really learn a lot from challenges, you learn how to be motivated, and you learn about perspective. And that’s, those are two big things for me that I think as an athlete mindset, we expect challenges we want adversity because those are the things that make us better, right? If everything’s going well, we’re not gonna have that drive to improve, right? So we’re dying for challenges. We’re dying for little adversity, so that we can show that we’re resilient so that we can push ourselves to get better every single day. And that’s kind of our mindset. And that’s the same mindset, I think I’ve taken throughout the rest of my career is, you know, I’m motivated by certain things that I’ve had to face. And it also gives me perspective when I make a mistake on air and live television. So those two things, motivation and perspective, I think that’s what challenges have always given me and as an athlete and as an injured athlete and specifically, but the time you’re talking about motivation, I needed it, I needed it. However, I could get it. So you know, that’s kind of how I approach resiliency is, is expect challenges almost want them because that’s how you’re going to learn the most about yourself and what you’re capable of right.
Sami Jo: Are there ever any days where you feel like you’re going to sink?
Sami Jo: You know, and then and then when you What How do you get yourself past that?
Cassie: Yeah, well, I remember, you know, when I first started with Hockey Night, you know, Ron would go around from city to city at the opening of the show. And you know, you had 30 seconds. No, you have 20 seconds. No, you only have 15 seconds. So this is what’s going on. Right? So based on what everyone else says, usually, I was the last one, because I’m doing the third ranked game, if you will. And so then you’re like, be prepared, like 45 seconds. And then also, they’re like, 30, and then all sudden, like, 15. There were times where I was like, uncle! Like, just how do I do this? Like, I’m not a broadcaster, I’m an athlete trying to be a broadcaster. But that’s when I would have that self talk. Where for me, I had three words that I always use, believe you belong, I’ve always used that throughout my whole career. Believe you believe you belong. So Ron’s coming to me, and I know it’s coming. I believe you belong and you have the self talk. And of course, there’s so many nights where I did sink, it’s like television, it you know, and so you, again, you got to learn from those things, you can’t let them bring you down, you have to have this ability to channel them to an area where it becomes a strength. Right? Otherwise, it was funny thing. The other day, I was upset about something and my daughter saw me crying. And she said the most amazing thing to me. She said, Mum, you know, why are you crying? It’s just allowing your body to get stronger. And I was like, Oh my gosh, like if I went crazy. And I know that. That’s what failure teaches us. It teaches us how to get stronger, it teaches us how to we are stronger than we think we are. So I don’t know if there’s like a science to it. But I just have this ability to quickly get motivated by adversity. And I, I learn quickly and I move on, boom it’s over. And sometimes that can be a weakness, because you kind of don’t deal with all the things that you should probably be dealing with. But that’s my mentality is just forward and go. And that’s all I got.
Sami Jo: Well, I love that advice. And I think that’s the perfect way to end it is to believe you belong, I think for all of us if we can just remind ourselves of that I’m sure many of our listeners are going through tough times it. You know, sometimes you have that motivation. And sometimes you just want to give it and other days, it’s tough to get it. But if we can all just recite Cassie’s mantra, I believe you belong. I think that’s a great advice to leave us with. So, Cassie, you will always be my captain. Whether it’s in the middle of a snowfield in Manitoba, or it’s with Team Canada. We have gone through a lot together and I continue to appreciate everything that not only you have given to the game, but to me specifically, so thank you, and thank you for being on the show.
Cassie: Yeah, cheers Sami.
Sami Jo: Take care.