Rebecca Johnston isn’t quite finished the high-performance hockey-playing
part of her life.
But she is preparing for the end.
The 29-year-old forward is on the Canadian roster for the 2018 4 Nations
Cup. It will be another in a long line of international appearances for
Johnston, who has represented Canada at three Olympic Winter Games, winning
gold in 2010 and 2014.
And though she still has plenty left in the tank, Johnston has been
thinking a lot over the past couple of years on what she wants to do when
her playing days are done. Johnston has a communications degree from Ivy
League school Cornell University, but hasn’t had a typical job due to the
time commitment required to play for Canada’s National Women’s Team.
That all changed in September when Johnston was named alumni program
coordinator with the Team Canada Alumni Association.
“It’s almost a new take on having a current player there so I have that
personal connection with some alumni and it will be easier for me to get
information from them or just gather information that would be beneficial
to the alumni program,” says Johnston. “But also just seeing what areas
that we can improve on and making alumni feel more connected with Hockey
It was during a debrief interview after the 2018 Games that Johnston
mentioned to Hockey Canada staff of her desire to gain some work experience
and her interest in event planning. For Dean McIntosh, vice-president of
events and properties with Hockey Canada, this was a perfect fit.
“I have been at Hockey Canada for almost 20 years now, but I still think if
an email comes off the desk from Dean McIntosh to a former player, it’s
looked at, maybe it goes to trash 90% of the time and read 10% of the time.
That’s not because they don’t care about Dean McIntosh or Hockey Canada,
but they don’t have a natural connection to me,” he says. “But when that
natural connection comes from a current player or alumni, there’s a natural
affinity to that player and there’s a trust in that player, there’s an
understanding that that player knows what they went through as well.
“Those are some of the unique things that Rebecca brings to the position,
along with the fact that she’s really just a good person and there’s a
respect factor because of that. All of those things combined have put us in
a good position for her to be an ambassador for what we’re trying to do
with our alumni program.”
McIntosh notes three objectives for the alumni association. First is to
continue and improve engaging with alumni and strengthening relationships
with players, coaches and staff of past teams.
Secondly, he says Hockey Canada can provide value to alumni through
partners like Tim Hortons, Esso and TELUS and ensure alumni receive
benefits that make them feel proud and appreciated for representing their
country on the ice.
The final objective is tied to the first two, as McIntosh says Hockey
Canada would love to see more and more alumni give back to the game of
Although Johnston has only been on the job for a few weeks, she’s already
learned a lot and is having a blast with her new alumni and events
“The group, the events team is awesome and they’ve been very welcoming and
are excited to have me on board which is really nice,” she says. “It’s good
to get another perspective. I have always been at the tournaments as a
player, as an athlete and you see all the hard work and what it requires to
run a successful tournament like 4 Nations Cup or women’s worlds.
“I went to the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August in Edmonton and I was able to
see behind the scenes of what things they did and I thought it was really
interesting. They put a lot of time and effort and there’s a lot of work
behind the scenes that I wasn’t aware of.”