“Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.” – Christian D. Larsen
The 2015-16 Toronto Aeros media guide will tell you all about Céline Frappier’s interests and hobbies, as well as her accomplishments, on and off the ice.
But that quote, the one Frappier lists as her personal favourite, tells you all you need to know about her mindset and character.
Forty-two players were invited to Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team selection camp this past August. Frappier was not one of them.
“It gave me motivation to keep working hard and pushed me to push my game to the next level,” she says, “And to never give up my dream of making Team
The chance to play for Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team in its annual three-game summer series versus the United States was no longer a possibility.
While disappointed, Frappier was already hard at work ensuring she wouldn’t be passed over twice.
An invitation to Canada’s National Women’s Program strength and conditioning camp in May told her she was definitely on the national radar. The five-day
experience taught her, however, that while her skills were ready for the next level, physically there was still one more step to take.
Frappier started working with a personal trainer, understanding – and now fully appreciating – that off-ice work translated directly to on-ice performance.
“Obviously all the girls that got invited are talented in their own ways and they all have their own roles on the ice,” she says. “To get to that next
level I think the off-ice stuff, the strength, the conditioning, that’s what sets people apart.”
By the time September rolled around, the newly-named Aeros captain noted a noticeably increase in her speed of the game – and provincial scouts and
decision-makers soon took new notice of her.
She was named captain of Ontario Blue at the 2015 National Women’s Under-18 Championship. In leading her team to the bronze medal, she was named the
tournament’s Most Sportsmanlike Player.
“She had an opportunity to play an important role for them and knocked it out of the park, really, in my mind,” says Lisa Haley, head coach of Canada’s
National Women’s Under-18 Team. “I just like the way she plays the game – it’s a 200-foot game. And she showed a lot of leadership with that younger team.
She played to her potential and helped make sure her teammates did that as well. Those are some really key intangible things that you’re looking for when
you’re trying to round out your roster.”
Frappier, herself, recognized her performance in Huntsville, Ont., was a turning point.
“I think it really helped showcase who I am as a person as well as a hockey player.”
In fact, she had helped set herself up for this success a year earlier.
Prior to last season, Frappier moved away from her home in Tecumseh, Ont., to play for the Aeros. The team had reached out to her, and with one eye toward
a high-performance future and another on a potential post-secondary playing career Frappier approached her parents about going east.
“It was definitely a hard decision for my parents to let their girl go, but it was something that we had to do and we did it,” she says. “I’m extremely
happy that they let me go to Toronto. Leaving home at 16, she says, not only helped accelerate the development of her game but also her maturation overall.
“I’m grateful for that.”
Frappier, whose first language is French, moved in with a billet family in Ajax, Ont., and now attends a French school in Whitby. Just over a year later,
both goals she set her sights on are now in hand.
In the fall she committed to Mercyhurst University. Then, she got word that she’d be coming to the IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship with Team Canada.
Thriving in a short-term, big-time event like U18 nationals proved to Haley that she could count on Frappier when the games really mattered.
“Well first of all her character,” she says. “She’s willing to pay any price and she’s here with us to play a role where she needs to get to the dirty
areas of the ice and play physical, kill penalties and block shots. Her hockey skills are not a question and the role that we want to put her into requires
a lot of intangible toughness.”
The sacrifices and sweat seemed to now have been worth it. Frappier says she was speechless when Haley called to offer her that spot on the team.
The coach still smiles at the memory a month later. “I think she thought I was joking,” says Haley, laughing. “Basically her words to me were she was
hoping she would get a call like this but she wasn’t exactly expecting it because of the missed invite in August. I think it was more of a dream goal and
it looks like it became a reality for her.”