N.S. athletes prepare for big show at Olympics

Women's hockey coach honoured to be a part of such a big event

Luke Demetre, alternate of the bobsled team in action. (Photo courtesy of Dan Carr)

Former Saint Mary’s University hockey coach, Lisa Haley is in for her big break in assisting Team Canada in this year’s Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

The women’s team’s assistant coach has faith the team is going to come out strong based on their recent play.

The team has already travelled to Austria to get acclimatized to the time zone change. Haley calls it getting into a bubble, away from as many distractions as possible heading into the Olympics.

As for looking back at all of her experiences, Haley says that it’s the opportunity that overrides the experience in general.

“Coaching university hockey is a lot different; it’s a full season and doesn’t come down to just one tournament,” she said.

Working with Hockey Canada, she has spent months planning for the upcoming 12 days.

The Olympics is set to start early February and Haley thinks the team is in a great spot right now. In Austria, the team played against a local men’s team and had a solid win.

“Things are coming together the way everyone would like to see it,” she said.

Haley isn’t the only one representing Canada in the Olympics. Luke Demetre, Alex Duckworth and Sidney Crosby of Nova Scotia will also be competing.

Bobsled alternate Demetre attended Dalhousie for two years before he decided to pursue his athletic career and feels honoured to even get the opportunity to be asked to attend.

He says university athletics has helped him gain experience.

“I think that university athletics are a great stepping stone to higher athletics and the training helps make the next step like I did into national or national development teams and programs,” he said.

“It’s great to experience the Games and drink in the atmosphere. I am disappointed that I will not be racing but I have to be prepared to jump in at any moment,” he said.

Dangers in Sochi: Well prepared with little concern

Haley has seen the media reports of terrorist threats against the Games and says that people have their guard up.

“There is always an emergency action plan in place with meeting places and who to call and such. People are well prepared,” she said.

Demetre isn’t concerned over security either. He says the International Olympic Committee and the Canadian Olympic Committee have the situation in hand.

“We have made two trips there already and their security was top-notch. The IOC and the COC are ready to send themselves and the athletes there. Security is always high at the Games. This should not be any different,” he said.

The wait is on and the preparation is long, but the experience will be worth it, and Haley has taken it all in. For her, value of the experience has already been in the people she’s met and the coaches she has worked alongside. And of course, there is one more group of people… the athletes.

“You see their growth as players and see the appreciation they have in learning something new that has made them better, and it feels good to witness that. Those are the special moments.”