By Madalyn Howitt
Just weeks after Ottawa’s Vanessa Gilles helped Canada’s women’s soccer team win Olympic gold for the first time ever, Kanata’s Jamie Lee Rattray helped the nation’s hockey team win a world title of its own.
Canada beat the United States, its longstanding women’s hockey rival, 3-2 in the final of the Women’s World Hockey Championships on Aug. 31 to secure its first gold medal at the competition in nine years.
Like Gilles, Rattray also had an impressive impact in Canada’s quest for gold, including a two-goal game against the Americans in their first matchup during the tournament’s group stage. Canada won that game 5-1.
Speaking with the Sports Pages after the tournament from Calgary, Rattray said she was still letting the win sink in.
“It took me probably about a week later to [actually] enjoy it a bit — everything was kind of a whirlwind,” Rattray said with a laugh during a phone interview.
One of Canada’s keys to winning the tournament was the chemistry its players share with each other, she said.
“We really had each other’s backs, and everyone had a role on the team,” Rattray added. “We established that very early on (in) the tournament, and looking back on it, that’s truly why we won — we stuck together, and everyone embraced whatever they had to do to win.”
Rattray believes Canada’s first head-to-head with the U.S. in particular set the tone for how the team approached each game.
“I think the preliminary game against the United States that we won gave our group a lot of confidence,” she said. “I think we always want to measure ourselves against someone like (the) U.S., [so] that was a really big moment for us to prove to ourselves that we were going to be successful.”
As for her own contributions to the team, Rattray spoke humbly. “I was proud of myself and how I was able to make an impact — that’s honestly all I wanted to do in the tournament,” she said. “My defensive game has always been something I’ve always wanted to focus on because I truly believe that if you’re good at [defense] everything else comes into play,” she went on.
Rattray may be reserved when it comes to singing her own praises, but her hockey family has certainly taken note of her talents. In an interview with TSN, coach Troy Ryan praised Rattray’s ability to adapt quickly on the ice.
“Part of the reason why it was easy to select her is her versatility. She can play up the lineup. she can play down the lineup. She can play left wing, right wing,” he said in the interview. “That versatility and that attitude bodes well for someone like Jamie.”
Rattray does admit that versatility is a skill she values. “As a player you want to be able to contribute in different [ways]. Over my career it’s taken a while for me to figure out how to how to do that, but I’ll take that title [of being versatile] anytime,” she laughed. “I’m all for it.”
Gilles was also praised for her versatility on the soccer pitch during the Olympics, which Rattray and her teammates played close attention to while they were at a training camp, preparing for their own international championship.
“We got up early to watch the women’s soccer team play. I was more nervous watching that than playing in [our own] tournament,” Rattray joked.
“I think it was pretty inspiring what they did, and it was fun to watch. I love [goalkeeper] Stephanie Labbé and her swag, the way she carried herself. I think that confidence is something that we could take away for our team,” she added.
Rattray also hopes the momentum that has formed in the wake of Canada’s wins in women’s soccer and hockey contribute to the promotion of women’s sport in the country.
“Being a part of the national [hockey] program, it is a full-time job for us, but I think it should be a full-time job for more female players,” she said. “A lot of girls stop playing [sports] after college because there isn’t a sustainable living wage, but I really do believe that there’s a market for it,” she explained, noting how viewership of women’s sports is up and engagement on social media was high during the tournament.
As for what’s next for Rattray, Beijing 2022 is just around the corner, and continuing to build on Canada’s success is top of mind for the forward.
“I’m just focusing on getting better every day, which is pretty easy with this group,” she shared. “We have the top players in Canada, and I get to practice with them every day so I’m really looking forward to [more of] that.”