Cassie Campbell is the longest serving captain in the history of Canada’s National Women’s Team. The Brampton native, whose initials happen to be C.C., has been wearing the ‘C’ for Canada for five seasons, and over 40 international games.
Although there have been some other players that have worn the ‘C’ temporarily for a game or two, when the captain at the time was out of the lineup or injured, Campbell is only the fifth permanent captain in the history of the National Women’s Team program, following in the steps of Sue Scherer, France St-Louis, Stacy Wilson and Therese Brisson.
“I think I learned bits and pieces from all the captains that played before me. With Sue Scherer, she was my coach too, she taught about the passion for the game, the love of the game. She played in an era when women weren’t ‘supposed’ to play.”
“With France St-Louis, I learned about fitness the most. Probably still today, she would still be the fittest person on this team. She just worked so hard off the ice and I think that’s why she was able to play as long as she was.”
“From Stacy Wilson, I learned that as a captain you can play so many roles on the ice. You can be fourth line, first line, one of those players that’s versatile and can switch at any moment. If you go from one line to another, it’s no big deal, it’s just part of your game. She was very good at doing that.”
“With Therese (Brisson), it was about consistency. She brought her best game all the time. She was always strong and physical. I’ve just tried to emulate bits and pieces of all the leaders that I’ve had the chance to have known.”
Campbell is genuinely honoured to be attributed the role of team captain, for a second Olympic Winter Games. She is making Canadian Olympic hockey history, as the first player ever, male of female, to captain Canada at two Olympic Winter Games.
With the captain’s role comes some additional responsibility. And Campbell doesn’t take it lightly.
“I think more about the big picture now. I try not to think about the little things that can distract people. I don’t get distracted easily at all. I try to push players in certain ways, so that come Olympic time or Championship time, I know they’ll be ready to play. I’m not afraid to push people’s buttons, but at the same time, I’ll take stuff back.”
One responsibility that Campbell is now taking more and more seriously, as she finishes her 13th season with the National Team, is helping prepare the next captains and alternate captains.
“The way I looked at is that in 1997, I was the alternate captain. So that was my time to learn how to be a leader. In 2002, when I was named captain, I had to be the leader. Now that I’m the older player, it’s sort of teaching the people who will be taking over my position on how to be a leader. That’s sort of the way I’ve looked at, the three stages of leadership. It doesn’t matter if you’re the captain for however long, or however short, you’re always learning as well.”
“This year, I wanted to push or let other people lead so that there are people on our team who are left with bits and pieces of the tradition of leadership with our team. If you show people that they are appreciated, and that we enjoy their leadership, they become better leaders. That’s something that’s worked out this year.”
“I think it’s important to teach them (the young players) things. And at the same time, they bring back some inspiration for me. When we went to the Flag Bearer announcement, Appsy (Gillian Apps) was telling me that she had never been to Canadian Olympic Park (in Calgary). And I remember thinking that back in 1998, my first time there, doing the whole same ceremony. It made me smile and brought back a great memory.”
Cassie Campbell on which leader she takes the most inspiration from:
“Steve Yzerman … Hearing the story that when Scotty Bowman came to the Red Wings, and Steve Yzerman asked him ‘What do we have to do to win’ and he said: ‘First of all, I know you’re this great offensive player, but we need you to play better defensively.’ He was the type of guy, a superstar, who was willing to do anything for the team. If that meant sacrificing his superstardom, he was willing to do it. Even now, that he’s at the end of his career, he can still play on that Maltby and Draper, he can still play well. And still be such an impact player, maybe not the scoring star he once one, but he can still bring leadership in many different ways. He’s very versatile that way.”