Sami Jo Small

Gold Medal-Winning Goalie with the Canadian Women's Olympic Hockey Team

The night before the Olympic game, in the race to the gold medal, Sami Jo Small was told that she would not be on the ice. At first, she was devastated and angry, but eventually, she chose to rise above those feelings and embraced her new role with enthusiasm. She became a force of positivity in the dressing room, on the bench, and on the ice, and in doing so ultimately helped the team become champions. A graceful storyteller, Small shows audiences that a “team” needs all of its members ― regardless of their role ― if they are to succeed.

As a goalie for the Canadian women’s hockey team, Small has won five World Championships, twice named championship MVP, and is a three-time Olympian, who played on two gold medal-winning teams. After a lifetime of training for the “big game,” in the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002, Small never got to play in it. “The biggest difference between myself and other Olympians,” says Small, “is the whole idea of being placed in situations that were not the way I had envisioned living my Olympic dream. Not playing in the final game in Salt Lake forced me to focus on the accomplishment of the team above my own feelings.”

Small currently works as a motivational speaker, and is a Certified Speaking Professional through the National Speaking Association. She is also an owner of a hockey school that runs throughout four provinces, and is currently writing her first book, an autobiography of her time playing for a championship team, to be published in 2020. Small was also one of the founders of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, and worked as the general manager of the Toronto Furies until it discontinued operations in 2019.

Topic Presentations

Sami Jo Small shares a frank and pragmatic message of adjusting to whatever life throws at you, at any time; of making the most of a situation that is at direct odds of how you had imagined things turning out. After being told the night before the Olympic Gold Medal game that she would not be starting, Sami Jo was devastated and angry. But she rose above these negative feelings and embraced her new role with enthusiasm — she became a force of positivity in the dressing room, on the bench, and on the ice when the team won its Gold Medal. A graceful storyteller, Sami shows audiences that a “team” needs all of its members, regardless of their role, if they are to succeed. We can all try to do better than yesterday, try to push our personal limits, and try to play the roles that are given to us to the best of our abilities. “In life,” says Sami Jo, “you never know what you’re preparing for. You don’t always get to choose the role you play, but you do get to choose how you play it.”

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