Not many people gave 18 year old Meghan Agosta much of a chance to make Canada’s Olympic Women’s Hockey Team this year. The youngster was a lock for 2010. But 2006? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
There were so many obstacles in her path. So many veterans were back. And although Agosta had accompanied the National Team as an alternate, to the 2005 World Championship, the native of Ruthven, Ontario, had yet to experience a major international event.
But Agosta wasn’t falling for it. She was intent on making the team ahead of schedule. While her name has surfaced over the past two years as an up-and-coming star, especially after making a name for herself at the National Under-18 Championship in Salmon Arm, BC, the youngster had her eyes on the earlier prize.
Agosta made the coaching staff take notice over the course of the 2005-06 season, leading the team in goals and ranking among Canada’s top scorers all season. On December 21st, the verdict was in. Agosta was introduced as the youngest player on the Women’s Olympic Team at 18 years of age (turning 19 during the Olympic Games).
It made for quite a journey. Agosta was a mere 15 years old during the last Olympics, in 2002.
“I didn’t watch every game (in 2002), but I was definitely following it. When the finals were going on, my brother had a game in Leamington. His game was going on and I knew that the end of the final was coming, so I went into the lobby and watched it with a bunch of other people.”
“When they won, I got the chills because ever since I was six years old, it’s been my dream to represent my country some day in the Olympics. I just hoped that someday, I’d be there and get to experience it.”
Agosta’s introduction to the National Team didn’t come through watching games on television. She was too busy playing hockey. Her introduction to international hockey and to Canada’s National Women’s Team came through a number of hockey schools, where she took lessons from future teammates Cassie Campbell, Jayna Hefford, Becky Kellar and Vicky Sunohara. And even her future Olympic assistant coach Margot Page.
She took up the game at the age of six, following in the steps of her older brother Jeric.
“Anytime my brother did something, I wanted to do the same thing. So if he went out to play road hockey, I wanted to play. So I asked my dad if I could play at the age of five while I was doing figure skating, but he didn’t really know whether he wanted to put me into the sport. The following year, he went to register my brother so I asked again. My Mom just said to let her try and if she likes it, she can stay in it. Ever since then, I always told my dad that the Olympics were my dream.”
And her family will all be there: her parents Nino and Char, as well as her brother Jeric and two sisters, Kara and Jade. In fact, her father is a first generation Canadian, born in Italy. His trip to watch his daughter represent Canada will mark Nino’s first time back in Italy since immigrating to Canada with his family when he was only six years old. Talk about a special homecoming.
Agosta and her teammates will be taking on Italy on February 11th in their first game. And on February 12th, Agosta will turn 19 and take on Russia in Canada’s second game at the Olympics.
“Knowing that it’s in Italy and that I’m of Italian descent, it’s such a great thing that my first Olympics will be in Italy. And the first team we play will be Italy, too.”
“My parents have both been there for me since the start. It’s been tough for them, with me moving away to play for the first time. My dad loves watching me play, so I think the first game at the Olympics will be real special … I don’t know if I can even say how it’s going to be for him. But I do know that he and my family are very proud of me. And I know that they’ll be behind me and the team all the way.”
Female hockey players under 20 years old who have represented Canada at either the Olympics or a World Championship
1 - 1994 WWHC - Hayley Wickenheiser
15 years, 4 months, 28 days
2 - 1994 WWHC - Cheryl Pounder
17 years, 9 months, 20 days
3 - 1997 WWHC - Hayley Wickenheiser
18 years, 3 months, 23 days
4 - 1998 Olympics - Jennifer Botterill
18 years, 9 months, 3 days
5 - 2006 Olympics - Meghan Agosta
18 years, 11 months, 30 days
6 - 1998 Olympics - Hayley Wickenheiser
19 years, 2 months, 4 days
7 - 2001 WWHC - Gina Kingsbury
19 years, 4 months, 6 days
8 - 1999 WWHC - Caroline Ouellette
19 years, 9 months, 13 days
9 - 1999 WWHC - Jennifer Botterill
19 years, 10 months, 7 days
10 - 1997 WWHC - Jayna Hefford
19 years, 10 months, 17 days
11 - 2005 WWHC - Sarah Vaillancourt
19 years, 10 months, 25 days
Agosta on all the hard work that it takes to be an Olympian
“The camp in PEI (in August) was a huge thing. I didn’t know what to expect and I went there and thought ‘Oh my God, if this is what it is, holy cow!’ I don’t think many girls and even many people realize how hard and how much work there is behind the scenes to make the team and be the best you can be.”