For Team Canada rookie Mélodie Daoust, “be the best you can be” is such an important personal philosophy, the initials “BTBYCB” are inked permanently onto her left wrist as a lifelong reminder.
Getting a tattoo is often seen as an act of youthful rebellion, but Daoust’s undeniable dedication to those words is more an indication that this 22-year-old is wise beyond her years.
She’s also mature enough, both on and off the ice, to be the youngest player on Canada’s National Women’s Team for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Perhaps more impressive is that Daoust made the cut without having played for the national team at an IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship, the lone Canadian without major international competition experience.
But that doesn’t faze Daoust, who scored one goal and added three assists in the 11 international games she played during the 2013-14 season, proving she’s got offensive prowess and puck skills enough to earn a spot on her country’s roster at the Olympic Winter Games.
“It’s a dream come true, no matter what age you are,” Daoust said over the phone while overseas preparing for her first-ever Olympic Winter Games.
Daoust admitted she was “looking forward to the Opening Ceremony,” and soaking up all the pomp and circumstance of the entire Olympic experience, but like her older teammates, the fiery forward remains focused on the ultimate end goal.
“We’re going there to win gold,” she said matter-of-factly.
Daoust does have international experience at younger levels that will serve her well, having won a gold medal with Canada at the 2010 IIHF World Women’s Under-18 Championship, and played several events with Canada’s National Women’s Under-22/Development Team. She’s also suited up for the senior team at a couple of 4 Nations Cups.
Outside of national team duty, she’s a Canadian Interuniversity Sport superstar, leading McGill University and becoming the first player ever to be named the CIS Rookie of the Year and CIS Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons. It seems her motivational BTBYCB motto is never far from her mind, no matter what jersey she’s wearing on the ice.
But Olympic pressure is like none other, so Daoust and her eight fellow first-timers look to their more experienced teammates for advice on how to stay calm, cool and collected when your whole country is expecting nothing less than Canadian gold.
“Don’t be too excited,” Daoust said of some of the lessons she’s learned from Team Canada veterans. “You’re there to play hockey.”
Three-time Olympic gold medallist Caroline Ouellette has acted as an important role model and mentor for Daoust since the up-and-coming young player first entered Canada’s National Women’s Program.
“She has to remember what she can bring,” Ouellette said. “She has such amazing vision on the ice, great puck skills, and I always tell her that she has some magic in her, and there are so many incredible plays that she can make.”
“I want her to play with that confidence, and to feel like she has the ability to do it,” the Canadian captain added. “She can do it, no matter who we’re playing.”
Fellow forward Marie-Philip Poulin knows exactly what it’s like to be the “young gun.” She was just 18 years old when she represented Canada at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, and cemented her rising star status by scoring both goals in the 2-0 gold medal game victory over the United States.
“She deserves it; she’s a great player,” Poulin said of her teammate’s talent. “Having the chance to play with the veterans here that have been to four, five Olympics, it’s quite the chance for her to ask questions and learn from them.”
“They are big sisters for us, and they show us the way,” she said. “As younger players, we’re so lucky.”
Now an experienced Olympian herself, Poulin’s biggest advice for Daoust is to “take everything in.”
That’s exactly what Daoust said she’s doing. “I am just enjoying the moment of being here, and going to the Olympics.”
Daoust is certainly excited to “live up the dream” she’s had since first lacing up her skates at age five, but she knows in order to do that to its full potential, she must stay true to herself – by being the best she can be.
“Play your game,” Daoust said.
“Don’t try to do too much, (just) because there are so many people watching (and) because you want to win,” she added. “Just be the person you are on the ice.”