Noémie Marin has one Olympic dream – well, kind of.
It is a dream split into two parts, one of which came true last August when the 24-year-old suited up for Canada’s national women’s softball team at the Summer Games in Beijing, China.
“I was a part of a group of people that were exceptional,” Marin said of the team that finished fourth. “Just being at the Olympics was a dream to me, I had a lot of fun with our team that we had over there.”
A utility player, Marin saw action in five games, making one plate appearance and scoring one run.
Now, just five months later, Marin is on a quest for Olympic appearance No. 2, with Canada’s National Women’s Team at the 2010 Games in Vancouver.
The Acton-Vale, QC native is one of 30 or so players still in the running for centralization ahead of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. In the spring, National Women’s Team head coach Melody Davidson will announce the centralization roster, which will live in Calgary and train together for Vancouver.
For Marin, a spot on Canada’s Olympic roster would be the culmination of a lifetime of work.
“I wouldn’t be able to describe it,” she says. “It would awesome. I have two dreams…well, one dream that’s split in two – being in the Olympics for softball and hockey – and I’ve achieved one part of my dream. It would be so great to accomplish my whole dream.”
A 2010 Olympic berth would also be historical – only four Canadian athletes, including National Women’s Team captain Hayley Wickenheiser, have even taken part in both the Summer and Winter Olympics. Wickenheiser played with the women’s softball team in 2000.
Susan Holloway (cross-country skiing, 1976; canoe and kayak, 1984), Pierre Harvey (cycling and cross-country skiing, 1984) and Clara Hughes (cycling, 1996; speed skating, 2002) are the others who have pulled off the Olympic double.
For a long time Marin would bounce back and forth between the sports, with hockey dominating the fall and winter and softball taking over in spring and summer.
“It’s hard to do both,” she says. “They’re two sports that are really demanding and you really have to be technical in each sport, but I think if you put a lot of dedication and a lot of discipline, it’s doable. It’s a passion to me, so I put my heart into it and I was able to do it.”
In her senior season of U.S. college hockey with the University of Minnesota-Duluth, in 2006-07, Marin was asked by her coaches to put softball aside for a year and focus on hockey. She responded with a team-leading 53 points, leading UMD to the NCAA championship game.
With her college career finished Marin turned back to softball in 2007-08, centralizing with the national women’s team in advance of Beijing, not picking up a hockey stick for almost a year.
But when the Olympics were over and her hockey career resumed, Marin faced a daunting task.
“It’s hard,” Marin said of returning to the ice with the National Women’s Team. “You’re playing with the best in the world and it was definitely really hard, probably the hardest thing I’ve done so far in my life, but I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by great people at home and great coaches who have been helping me, so it’s been a good transition.”
A transition she hopes leads to Vancouver 12 months from now.