Always with her
Jessica Forcey remembers her late mom’s encouragement every time she steps on the ice as she continues to honour her memory off the ice
Wendy Graves
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January 13, 2018
|

Jessica Forcey was only 11 years old when her mom, Pam, died of breast cancer in April 2012.

“She took me to all my games, all my practices – everything – she was always cheering me on,” says Forcey, now 17 and a forward with Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team. “She didn’t know a ton about hockey – she was a track star – but she helped me when she could and did her best with the hockey skills. The support was the biggest thing.”

Pam may not have understood the intricacies of her daughter’s sport, but being a competitor herself, she knew what notes to strike to balance motivating Jessica while keeping fun at the forefront.

“She would always get me super pumped up for games,” says Forcey. ”She knew I loved my music. We would put on some pump-up jams, like a lot of ‘Thunderstruck,’ and sing in the car.”

Mother and daughter also shared a love of running – Pam was a sprinter; Jessica has competed in sprint, hurdles and relay – and jogs along the path behind their home allowed more time for just the two of them.

Pam had first been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, but appeared to beat the disease. But three years later, when Jessica walked into the kitchen and saw Pam and dad Andy in tears, she just knew.

Even while sick, Pam continued to be a constant presence at the rink for her two older daughters, cheering on Jessica (Peewee AA) and Emma (Bantam AA) at their London Devilettes games.

The girls hockey association, in turn, supported the family. During the 2011-12 season, the Devilettes wore breast cancer tape on their socks. The following season, the Peewee AA and Bantam AA teams introduced an alternate pink jersey to both honour Pam and raise breast cancer awareness.

“It meant the world to see how much she meant to everyone and how much we’re supported,” says Forcey. “Actions say a lot more than words, and that was a big action to show how much everyone loves us and supports us through tough times. We still have the pink jerseys at our house.”

The support of her teammates and hockey community provided Forcey with comfort. They were understanding any time she missed a practice; when she was there, they cheered her up and helped get her mind elsewhere, if only for a short while.

Support came from outside the rink as well.

In Grade 8, she did One Run, a fundraising initiative of Theresa Carriere, a breast cancer survivor. Carriere ran 100 kilometres from Sarnia to London in one day. Donors buy a kilometre, and each kilometre costs $1,000. “My elementary school at the time raised that $1,000 and chose me to run with her for that kilometre of the run,” says Forcey.

All along, Forcey has provided her support to cancer and breast cancer awareness initiatives. She’s done Run for the Cure and Relay for Life to raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society. As a member of student council this year, for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, she helped organize a powderpuff game, a flag football tournament that required a minimum donation in order to play and had almost every girl at the high school participating.

It’s important to Forcey to continuing this fight even as her on-ice schedule gets busier. Now in her third season in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League, Forcey is the captain of the Bluewater Hawks. In November, she won a silver medal with Ontario Blue at the 2017 National Women’s Under-18 Championship. And during the summer, she played with Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team in a three-game series against the United States.

While Pam sadly never saw Jessica achieve these milestones, she knew what her daughter had in her.

“She always reminded me of what I can do and what hard work can do,” says Forcey. “Whenever I was feeling down or a coach was being hard on me, she would remind me just to be the player that I am. She didn’t have huge hockey insight, but the encouragement and the confidence she had in me gave me confidence in myself.”

Forcey now wears the Maple Leaf again, this time at the 2018 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship. Representing her country is the fulfillment of a dream that began when she started playing hockey 14 years ago. She knows her mom would’ve been just as thrilled.

“I think she would be really proud of me, seeing all the hard work I’ve done in order to get to this point,” says Forcey. “I think she would just give me big hugs and send me off with love.”

For more information:

Lisa Dornan
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-777-4557 / 403-510-7046 (mobile)
ldornan@hockeycanada.ca

 

Esther Madziya
Coordinator, Media Relations
Hockey Canada
403-284-6484
emadziya@hockeycanada.ca

 

Spencer Sharkey
Coordinator, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-777-4567 / 905-906-5327 (mobile)
ssharkey@hockeycanada.ca

 

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