Emily Clark is used to being the youngest.
She’s the youngest of six kids, was the third-youngest player on Canada’s National Women’s Development Team for a three-game series against the United
States last summer, and was the youngest on Canada’s National Women’s Team at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship.
It was there Clark got the chance to play alongside her idol, Caroline Ouellette; 16 years, three months and six days separated the oldest player on the
Canadian roster with the youngest, but age was just a number.
“I wasn’t nervous, but maybe over-excited to have the chance to play with her,” remembers Clark. “It had been my dream for a long time and going in I
wanted to learn as much as possible from her.”
And while the expectations for most at their first world championship would be a stressful, jaw-tightening, eye-opening experience, especially playing
alongside an all-time great like Ouellette, Clark saw a chance to learn whatever she could from the four-time Olympic gold medallist.
“One of the main things she thought me was to be confident as to why I was there, and just to take that extra second on the ice,” Clark says. “She
definitely helped me calm my nerves and made me feel right at home.”
But now, the rookie has become the veteran.
Clark is back for her second season with Canada’s National Women’s Development Team, and while she falls a little more in the middle as far as age goes
(six teammates are younger than her), her worlds experience puts her near the top as far as leadership goes.
“It’s definitely a different world,” she says. “As one of the younger ones, the guidance I got from the older girls definitely made me feel more
comfortable and more confident, so I’m just hoping I can make the younger ones feel that way as well.”
Being a leader is nothing new for Clark, who wore the ‘C’ with Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team for a three-game series against the U.S. in 2012,
and was an alternate captain with Team Canada when it won gold at the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship.
But there’s always room for improvement, and she still took notes on the leadership qualities of both Ouellette and Marie-Philip Poulin, who served as
Captain Canada at women’s worlds in Malmö.
“To see how they conduct themselves, the little things they do to bring the team together and make sure everyone is on the same page, are definitely some
things I learnt from them,” she says.
Despite her age, the 19-year-old has shown on every step of her path through hockey that she has what it takes to be a leader. And a lot of that comes from
home life for the Saskatoon, Sask., native.
Emily was the last of Del and Tracy Clark’s six kids, following brothers Jeff, Kevin, Brian and Robbie, and sister Kristina, and admits that coming from a
big family has helped her become who she is today.
“My household has made me pretty tough and pretty open at the same time,” she says. “I think being able to handle my own with my four older brothers
definitely helped. It thought me to voice my opinions, communicate a lot, and stay disciplined.
“I think the biggest thing I’ve learnt from [my parents] is how to lead by example. Maybe I’m not as vocal or as loud as some of the other leaders in the
locker room, but I feel like taking care of my role and doing the fine details is as important. Hopefully the others do see that about me and follow my
While some players prefer not to be in the spotlight, or wearing a letter on their jerseys, for others it comes naturally. In Clark’s case, it doesn’t
matter who she’s playing for, who she’s playing with, or who she’s playing in front of. There is only one way of doing things right.
“It’s all about knowing your role, on any team you’re on, and being ready to accept it.”
Just like a good leader.