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Sami Jo Small    

Canadian Former Ice Hockey Goalkeeper; Three-Time Olympic Medalist & Four-Time World Championship Medalist

Sami Jo Small grew up on the outdoor rinks of Winnipeg. Her childhood rink, the Norberry Community Centre in St Vital now bears her name as the Sami Jo Small Hockey facility. She started playing at an early age following in her older brother Luke's footsteps. While he didn't last long in hockey, instead opting to pursue the other family passion of swimming, Small was hooked. Whether is playing street hockey with her friends or suiting up alongside her male teammates, Small's drive was evident every time she stepped on the ice or strapped on a pair of pads.

She played in the boys AA and AAA system for the St Vital Victoria's and Winnipeg Warriors before teams for girls existed. She played her first women's hockey tournament at the age of 14 lining up on defence at the Canada Winter Games in 1991 when women's hockey made it's debut. Women's hockey was just starting to take off after Canada hosted the first women's world championships in 1990, however, Small was also involved in many other sports and school endeavors.

Despite, a plethora to playing many sports, in University Small choose to focus on track and field. She accepted a scholarship to throw discus and javelin at Stanford University. She was on Canada's national junior team for four years traveling the world throwing spears. She was a valuable member of the Stanford track and field team that was competing in the NCAA championships.

While at Stanford she also signed up to play on the Stanford Men's hockey team. A club team at Stanford that competing in the PAC-10. At first her track and field coaches were unaware of her double-duty, however, when the first weekend of the outdoor track and field season coincided with the National (ACHA) where the Cardinal came 3rd. Small fessed up and went on to compete for 4 years in both sports.

Along the way, she also won several NARCH (North American Roller Hockey) championships competing alongside her childhood hero Manon Rhéaume with Team Mission.

When her University career came to a close she opted to move to Toronto to pursue hockey full time.

Small first joined Canada women's national hockey team in the 1997-1998 season serving at the 3rd goalie at the first women's Olympic hockey tournament in Nagano in 1998 where Canada won silver. She went on the become Canada's starting goaltender in 1999. Canada won 3 straight World Championships in '99 (Espoo, Finland), '00 (Mississauga, ON) , '01 (Minnesota, USA) and Small was twice named to the World Championship All-Star team and top goaltender.

Small competed in 2 more Olympic Games in 2002 (Salt Lake City, USA) and 2006 (Torino, Italy) helping Canada win two Olympic Gold medals as well as two more World Championship titles '04 (Halifax) and '07 (Winnipeg).

Small's first women's professional team was the Brampton Thunder in 1999. Playing alongside Olympians, Vicky Sunohara, Lori Dupuis and Janya Hefford, the team played in the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL). She played two season's with club, before moving to the storied Toronto Aeros Franchise.

The Toronto Aeros were started by Ken Dufton and Colin McKenzie and trained more girls for the National program than any other team. Small played for this franchise from 2002 until her final year in 2018 having played professional hockey for 19 years.

Alongside her Olympic teammates, Jennifer Botterill, Geraldine Heaney, Cheryl Pounder and Becky Kellar, she helped the Toronto Aeros win two National and League Championships in 2003 and 2004. The team was sold to Mississauga, but the pursuit of excellence remained. Another Olympian, Cherie Piper joined the team to help win the National Championship in 2008 in the final year of that trophy being awarded. In 2010 the team changed it's name to the Toronto Furies and the league held it's first ever draft, however, Small and Jennifer Botterill remained with the franchise. Small has played along side many other top players who have worn the Furies jersey including Tessa Bonhomme, Jennifer Wakefield, Rebecca Johnston, Renata Fast and Natalie Spooner.

The team won the ultimate championship in 2014, the Clarkson Cup

In 2007, after the demise of the NWHL, Small, along with other players, helped start the Canadian Women's Hockey League. She served as the league's first vice chairman and chair of the Sponsorship committee. She sat on the board for five years helping to raise millions of dollars so women's could play elite hockey in North America.

After nearly 20 years of playing in the league, Small accepted the position as General Manger of the Toronto Furies for the 2018-2019 season. Despite only one year in the role she helped grow the Toronto franchise in the community and helping to make it one of the top programs for aspiring Olympians in North America.

Small has been speaking professionally since she started with the National Team in 1997. When many of her teammates shied away from the microphone, Sami Jo was quick to share stories about the team. She has honed her message about teamwork after more than 20 years in the industry using stories from one of Canada's most successful teams, the Canadian Women's Hockey Team. A team then won 4 straight Olympic Gold medals over 20 years. She delves into the personalities on the team and her thoughts on what makes strong teammates and ultimately success as a team. With her learnings she has shown audiences all over the world that, "In life, you don't always get to choose the role you play, but you always get to choose how you play it."

n 2011 Small married PEI native, Billy Bridges in a ceremony in Mississauga. Billy is an incredibly accomplished athlete in his own right, having been to 5 Paralympic games. He is the all time leader in points in all of sledge hockey and still pursues the sport at the highest level. They have a daughter Kensi who likes to dance.


Billy Bridges, Sami Jo Small: A match made in hockey heaven ...
But for Sami Jo Small, putting on her pads to help her husband practice is just ... Soon Small was joining Bridges at his practices, serving as a stand-up goalie for  ...
Women's hockey gold medalist Sami-Jo Small speaks at George ...
Mar 4, 2014 ... Sami-Jo Small played for Canada's women's hockey team three times and ... in the world according to the International Ice Hockey Federation.
Everyone must stand for equality in Sochi - Winnipeg Free Press
Aug 10, 2013 ... Sami Jo Small, from Winnipeg, is a three-time Olympic ice-hockey goalie. Small has an engineering degree from Stanford University and ...
Depending on the athletes age group, they will have several hockey off-ice training sessions ... Sami Jo Small: Camp owner. Three time Olympic Goaltender. Sami Jo is a graduate of Stanford University and has her Advanced Coaching level ...

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