How to raise an Olympic athlete? ‘Follow your child’s lead. They have to want it,’ says hockey parent

Jennifer Harris and Mario Maltais of Burlington, Ont., first saw their daughter Emma Maltais pick up a hockey stick while she used to be a baby.

Now, 22-yr-antique Emma is representing Canada as part of the women’s workforce at the Olympics — one thing Harris and Maltais by no means imagined might occur.

“She began pretty early,” said Mario. “[We] made an ice rink in the backyard, and she used to be like best and a half or 3 when she first skated, and [her older brother] Matthew put her within the net with a rubber puck they usually were taking part in on this little patch of ice.”

This month, Emma is with the Canadian women’s national hockey crew in Beijing. The crew beat Switzerland 12-1 Wednesday in its first recreation — and Harris said she’s still wrapping her brain around the thought. 

Emma Maltais together with her father and brother in 1998. Her circle of relatives and their friends are staring at the game against Finland on Friday night from their home in Burlington. (Submitted by way of Jennifer Harris )

“We never dreamed she can be going to this Olympics, like by no means in a million years,” she advised CBC Hamilton. “i do not realize if Emma idea she could, either. i feel we’re all still somewhat stunned.”

As they get ready to look at the following sport, in opposition to Finland on Friday night, Harris said the support from the Burlington community has been “completely incredible.”


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The circle of relatives is mostly gazing from home, with friends joining Friday night, however a small group has arranged a viewing birthday party at an area sports bar for the sport towards the U.S. this Monday.

“If ever we are in the gold medal, that group will organize a large gathering,” she mentioned. 

an extended journey 

Harris stated even if her daughter was skating at a tender age, she later discovered her interest for hockey.

“She was at the gymnastics membership right here in Burlington,” said Harris, “and he or she was once doing leisure gymnastics at 3 years old and the leisure folks stated, ‘Oh, this child is sweet … you desire to check out her in the aggressive program.'”

Then Again, lifestyles had different plans for Emma, and while she went to the competitive tryouts, she was cut. 

How to raise an Olympic athlete? 'Follow your child's lead. They have to want it,' says hockey parent

In highschool, Emma played for Oakville Hornets. (Submitted through Jennifer Harris)

They concept hockey might be a amusing amendment they usually signed her up for that game instead. 

“A month later, the gymnastics membership came back to me and mentioned, ‘We made a mistake,’ and that i said, ‘It’s too overdue now. We simply enrolled her in hockey’ and it’s been hockey ever considering the fact that.”

Harris additionally said it has been “a long journey” for her daughter to get the place she is now. 

“There May Be been lots of amazing, glorious things,” Harris mentioned, “but there is been some hardships and difficult instances also and, as she got on the upper degree, she positioned more and extra pressure on herself and wanted it more and extra.”

Mario stated that as Emma advanced in her hockey profession, she began evaluating herself with the other gamers. 

How to raise an Olympic athlete? 'Follow your child's lead. They have to want it,' says hockey parent

Emma also plays for Ohio State Buckeyes while finding out in Columbus. (Submitted via Jennifer Harris )

“All of a unexpected she compares herself to the other girls and said, ‘How come they picked her and didn’t select me,’ right? so you cannot regulate that, that stuff. you’ll simply regulate what you’ll do at the ice.”

Even all through the ones times, then again, Harris made certain to comfort her daughter.

“Emma and I have a tattoo,” she mentioned. “it is a image that implies ‘everything happens for a reason,’ and we both have the tattoo in the related spot as a result of i actually consider that … and she’s there now, so it is incredible.”

From local rollerblading to Olympic hockey

For the circle of relatives of fellow hockey participant Renata Fast, this is the second time seeing her compete at the Olympics, however the excitement has not dissipated.

“It’s almost definitely extra exciting than the primary time,” said Renata’s father, Douglas Rapid. “Now that we be aware the whole process better and we know the way exhausting it’s to be there, like how difficult it is to achieve a position, so we’re in reality enthused and taken back, in point of fact, of her success.”

How to raise an Olympic athlete? 'Follow your child's lead. They have to want it,' says hockey parent

Renata Fast once discovered her sibling’s rollerblades within the family garage and started skating round. (Submitted by way of Douglas Fast)

Coming from a circle of relatives where nobody skated, Renata’s mother Sharon mentioned her daughter developed a love for hockey with their neighbour’s help. 

“She started somewhat bit later than most girls … her ally, who lives down the street from us, she used to be enjoying hockey and her dad was training … and she or he had found her older sibling’s rollerblades within the garage, and she or he positioned them on and skated round,” Sharon recollects.  

Douglas mentioned that from an early age, Renata, now 27, had a “sports activities character to her like now we have never noticed sooner than.”

“We introduced all our youngsters to each activity there was, each and every recreation, they usually all pursued the issues that they prefer to do,” he stated. “In Renata’s case, we presented her to the entire quite a lot of sports, and to assume that that will result in, you understand, this Olympian rising, that’s a surprise.” 

How to raise an Olympic athlete? 'Follow your child's lead. They have to want it,' says hockey parent

Speedy, #14, celebrates her purpose with teammates in a recreation in opposition to Switzerland within the IIHF women’s global championship in August. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Like Emma’s family, Renata’s supporters will probably be looking at from Burlington. 

“We’re going to be staying up past due or getting up early to observe all the video games live,” stated Sharon. “our youngsters will all come and we’ll all watch together.”

Recommendation for fogeys of long term Olympians

As recommendation for folks of small children who hope to be aggressive athletes at some point, Harris said the most productive practice is to let the kid pave their own path. 

“Follow your kid’s lead, as a result of we have seen many children over the years prevent taking part in and the drive from folks, and it has to be in your child to wish to move to this next stage. they have to actually want it — can not come from you.” 

Douglas shared that sentiment, and said it made a difference that Renata used to be the one who chose to play hockey.

“We only beef up, we never driven, and it was once at all times Renata who was the one pushing herself, and i feel that makes a large difference while she’s doing it as a result of she wants to do it.”

Simply kids from @cityburlington dwelling out their goals in Beijing!

Establishing Olympic Gameday this night 11pm ET@BGHC_News @Burleagleselite @emmamaltais17


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