Life Enhancing Lessons from Sports
Sept. 17, 2021

S2 E6 - “A Ponytail Carrying a Hockey Bag” – feat. Sami Jo Small

S2 E6 - “A Ponytail Carrying a Hockey Bag” – feat. Sami Jo Small

Hockey Gold + Triumph + Anguish = The Role She Played


In today’s episode of SPORTS + LIFE + BALANCE, John Moffet is joined by Sami Jo Small, a Canadian Olympic gold medal-winning goaltender and 4x world champion.  

Sami Jo shares the story of the first time she ever played on an all-women hockey team leading up to the 1998 Nagano Olympic games. She went on to make two more Olympic teams, won four world championships, and had a long career as a pro, both as a player and manager. 

Sami Jo's story is also filled with personal struggles and heartbreaks… and just like in life, it’s how we deal with that adversity that counts the most.  


Pick up a copy of "The Role I Played" by  Sami Jo Small:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-role-i-played-sami-jo-small/1136574805

Thanks to our episode sponsor, Roka! Use code "SLB" for 20% off your purchase at Roka.
https://www.roka.com/

Transcript

JOHN MOFFET:

It's time for Sports Life Balance with John Moffet.

Sami Jo Small:

When I was growing up, there was no opportunities for girls within the game. In fact, I never saw another girl playing. But the one thing that I look back on now is, you know, I was so ingrained in hockey that I never stopped to think, Why are my peers not playing? I just assumed they didn't want to play. I just assumed that I was the one unique person that had this love of this game that just happened to be a voice for it. But the reality is looking back at it is that their parents didn't allow them to play, their clubs didn't allow them play, there's no opportunities. You know, people often ask me what my biggest regret about my sports career is. And I think that's it that while Yes, I think my generation of women paved the way for the next generation of women. I never stopped to think how can I make this sport more inclusive for my peers?

JOHN MOFFET:

Introducing Canadian Olympic gold medal winning hockey player Sami Jo Small. I'm John Moffet, and big welcome to Sports Life Balance. As a girl growing up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Sami Jo participated in sports ranging from swimming and water polo, to volleyball. And yes, she even played hockey with the boys. Sami Jo attended Stanford University on a track and field scholarship, all the while studying engineering, and of course, playing hockey on the men's team. And unbelievably the first time she ever played on an all women's hockey team was in the months leading up to the 1998 Nagano Olympic Games. She went on to make two more Olympic teams representing Canada, won five World Championships, and had a long career as a pro both as a player and a manager. Yes, there are the gold medals and all the obvious successes, but Sami Jo's story is also filled with personal struggles and of course, heartbreaks. And just like in life, it's how we deal with that adversity that counts the most. Sami Jo, welcome to the podcast.

Sami Jo Small:

Thanks so much for having me John. This is just as much as of a pleasure for me I'm an Olympics junkie so I really really appreciate this

JOHN MOFFET:

and and so you just got over quite a stint watching two weeks of so well

Sami Jo Small:

I think all of us we finally get a little bit of sleep right at least you're in a different timezone. I mean, for me, it was the middle of the night. And just such drama. So finally I feel like I'm back on a little bit of a regular schedule, but then the Paralympics start soon and it'll be back to midnight watching again.

JOHN MOFFET:

Right. And that has particular significance to you since you're married to a Paralympian?

Sami Jo Small:

That's right. Yes. And my husband is a sixth time Paralympic. Well, he's vying for a sixth Paralympic Games in Beijing, which is less than eight months away, which is crazy to think. But yeah, he's an incredible athlete, a sledge hockey player. And I take inspiration from him every day in what he does, even though he doesn't take out the garbage. But that's okay.

JOHN MOFFET:

Everybody says that from time to time.

Sami Jo Small:

That's right.

JOHN MOFFET:

So you mentioned time zones. You are my first Canadian guest on

Sami Jo Small:

amazing, I love it. Although we do have a connection through Stanford. So that is that is a nice connection that we share.

JOHN MOFFET:

It certainly is. And we'll talk a little bit about that later. And we also have a quick connection via Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

Sami Jo Small:

That's correct that we both just did together. It was always fun to talk sports with other athletes. I also I don't know if you know that I grew up in a swimming family. So that's why this is such an honor for me. I feel I still feel like a swimmer even though I quit when I was 10. But in the back of my head, I feel like I'm you know, I was doing all those laps alongside the rest of my family. We certainly only talked about times at dinner tables. So that's all that's all I knew.

JOHN MOFFET:

Well, I totally get it. And yes, you do have a varied background of sports. I want to tell you about something that very, very strange that happened to me. A couple of months ago, I was in Seattle, visiting my in laws, and I was in this little cafe, a coffee place in Seattle. And I was reading your book The Role I Played and this small dog came up to me and was very friendly and I was friendly with the dog and it occurred to me that while I should probably look up the leash and look at the person who at the other end of the leash, and and sure enough, she was standing there and she was wearing a hoodie and and on the front of her hoodie it said Roots Canada and I am thinking to myself, okay, How weird is this? I'm reading about a Canadian Olympian. And then I meet this woman who is wearing Roots Canada, which I know you just don't see that every day in the United States. So I asked her if she's Canadian. She says, Yeah, actually I am and I show her the book. And she shrieks she says, Oh my god, Sami Jo. I grew up with her in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Talk about small world.

Sami Jo Small:

talk about a small world. What's funny is that Shannon Shakespeare who went on to become an Olympian for Canada, in swimming, and she, we're at the same club, she was the only one from our club that had such such success on a world stage. But we did our parents are still best friends live close to each other in Winnipeg. It was so out of the blue when she reached out to me that I thought she was telling tales out of school. I mean, it just didn't seem fathomable that the two of you a would have not connected before. I mean, because swimming is kind of a small world. But the fact that you even asked is kind of like, Do you know my friend John from California? Like, it is such a large country, right? It's not as if we all know each other. Although that's a fallacy that I think that a lot of people think that we all do know each other because of stories like this exactly. You will get caught out so many times, but it has, you know, what has been so special about that is it's allowed Shannon and I to reconnect to so thank you for that. You know, it's a you get busy in your life and you get busy in your world. And I've seen her brother, her brother lived here close to me in Oakville for a while. So I've seen her brother and her nieces and nephews but I have not seen her in a long time. She's been sort of traveling she went to Michigan now is on the other coast. And yeah, so it's been just really special to get to reconnect with some old friends that really know you from from back then. And so she's actually even mentioned in the book. I don't know if you did recognize that. But I stayed with her parents when I first moved to Toronto so

JOHN MOFFET:

special is that is crazy. It's just impossible not to assign some sort of a meaning to that random meet meetup that we had. And and here's the weird thing. On the three days that weekend that I was visiting Seattle, I saw her four times total. And when I first met,

Sami Jo Small:

because we had just met right at the Tesla business had right then finished for about two weeks. Maybe I just started your book. Yeah, so it I mean, yeah, serendipity. I think truly Well,

JOHN MOFFET:

I'm glad you to have connected. And I'm glad that I'm now connected with yet another Olympic swimmer. It is a small family, as you said, you know, you mentioned growing up in Winnipeg, and you did a lot of sports, didn't you? I mean, you started skating it too, but you were doing a lot of different sports.

Sami Jo Small:

I certainly was and I think that a lot of women of my generation that sort of our stories because we didn't have the opportunity to really think about long term what we wanted to get out of sport. There was no professional sport for women. Certainly for me, I didn't know any women my mother's age who played sports or coach sports or, you know, I didn't have mentors that were female that were within the game. So you know, I dabbled in basically everything that I could loved every sport but was never really pigeon holed, which I am so grateful for now. Because you know it growing growing up in Canada as a young boy at that time. The goal is to make the NHL well I soon realized that probably I wasn't going to get to play in the NHL. My favorite player he played for the Winnipeg Jets and his name is Laurie Boschman. And I thought Laurie was a girl for a long time I was only for guys so um you know I started to have all these other dreams and my brother who kept swimming after I stopped at the age of 10 he and I watched the Olympics religiously also I think watching the Olympics being exposed to the Olympics. I mean I even did a camp one summer that was fencing archery and rowing combined at the same camp but i just i loved it I just love that competition. I love being in different roles within sport as well so I was terrible at and some I excelled that and so I think that that's what allowed me to learn eventually, what I did find my sport and on to the national team. I had this varied background that a I wasn't burnt out. So a lot of my teammates didn't play it continue to play professionally after their Olympic stint because they were burnt out they played NCAA they played every day or university hockey here in Canada. I didn't do that, you know I went to on this other world adventure which we can talk about in track and field and so when I came back to hockey, it was all new, new and fresh. And I felt like I was still learning every day. So the fact that I got to play till I was about I think I was 42 when I finally I don't want to say retired. I think they just kind of I think they moved on rather than I moved on. But I was able to play to that, you know having the mental joy of the game still for that long because I had this varied background and really didn't get burnt out. I just felt like it was always a learning process for me.

JOHN MOFFET:

Right right. You, but you definitely played hockey when you were a kid growing up. And there's this very poignant picture of in your book of you. And it's the team photo. And it's you with a bunch of boys.

Sami Jo Small:

Right.

JOHN MOFFET:

I mean, hockey's huge in Canada, but it seems the opportunities for girls and women, especially back then were not as prevalent.

Unknown:

I think that's the case. You know, really around the world for a lot of women in a lot of sports. Tennis and golf for women, you know, took off first, but that doesn't mean it's been around for generations. You know, we think of Billie Jean King, fighting for women with equal pay that hasn't been around for that long. So yeah, when I was growing up, there was no opportunities for girls within the game. In fact, I never saw another girl playing. But the one thing that I look back on now is I, you know, I was so ingrained in the sport, I was so ingrained in hockey that I never stopped to think, Why are my peers not playing? You know, I never, I just assumed they didn't want to play, I just assumed that I was the one unique person that had this love of this game that just happened to be a boy sport. But the reality is looking back at it is that their parents didn't allow them to play, their clubs didn't allow them to play, there's no opportunities. And so I think, you know, people often ask me what my biggest regret about my sports career is? And I think that's it that while Yes, I think my generation of women paved the way for the next generation of women. I never stopped to think how can I make this sport more inclusive for my peers, for the girls that I go to school with, that I play these other sports with. And I really didn't find that out until I was an adult, you know, asking my friends, you know why you didn't play or maybe they only started playing when they were an adult. And as soon realized that they wanted to play but the largest growing segment of hockey in this country is actually adult women who never got a chance to play growing up. So it's really neat to see that and now I feel like it's kind of come full circle so I do a lot of not only do I play in some of those leagues, but I do a lot of clinics and try to you know, impart that that joy that I was so grateful and so lucky to have had from a young age

JOHN MOFFET:

And hopefully their daughters are encouraged too

Unknown:

exactly and now these women are on the benches, the reffing they're administrating. And no longer...when I was a little girl, you'd walk into hockey arena and everybody would turn a look at me I mean, it was like the girl has showed up. Now you walk in and there's a ponytail carrying a hockey bag and nobody even second guess is it it's just so much a part of the fabric of sport in this country. And that's really amazing to see now there's some growth that can happen at the elite level for sure to bring some equity into the game. But in terms of ice allocation, in terms of opportunities for young girls to get scholarships to play provincially, nationally, those are there and that really has happened very quickly. I mean, within two decades it's gone from non existent to now all of a sudden we have a flourishing sport.

JOHN MOFFET:

Well you're clearly part of that.

Unknown:

Well, I mean I was I was lucky to get to reap the rewards of A. parents that thought their daughter should play a club that didn't second guess that I could play peers so men and boys that I played with who treated me like I could play and that it was okay that I was there and so many women that were told no you know, so many women that were told that they had to quit the sport the ones that went before me I'm the one that got to play you know people call me and my my teammates pioneers but I don't think we are we're the ones that reap the rewards of those that went before us that fought for it to be an Olympic sport fought for World Championships fought simply to get on the ice. You know, I, I felt like I got to have the joy that sport brings because of all of the hard work and dedication that those women put in before me.

JOHN MOFFET:

Well, well we've been talking a lot about hockey but the fact of the matter is, is that you mentioned Stanford earlier, you actually went to Stanford on a track and field scholarship for Javelin and discus right.

Sami Jo Small:

That's right.

JOHN MOFFET:

So I mean look, I know for the listeners, this is coming out of the blue but clearly I mean, track and field was a huge part of your life as well.

Unknown:

Yes, first off, I was in junior high lucky enough to have a gym teacher who coached at the local university started a track team at our at our school and I thought I could be a distance runner and I in my mind, I so badly wanted to be like an 800, 1500 meter runner but I was pretty much my size by time I was in grade seven, which is about 185 5'8'. So needless to say, endurance sports were probably not going to be my future especially running, even though I so badly wanted it. But while I was competing, the throwing coaches often would say, you know, you should, you should try this you should go over here, you should perhaps give this, you know, a sport a whirl. So, eventually I did, and I had a background in not only volleyball, but I played a lot of water polo as well. And so had the arm strength that I think lent itself to being able to learn technique. And I just, I loved the sport of track and field, I loved how you could run, jump and throw and do them all. And, you know, I did pole vault and I did steeplechase. And I did everything from a young age terribly. But you know, I still did it. And the fact that we within a team could have people of all different body shapes, all different backgrounds, all different strength abilities, all they're on the same team was just was amazing. It was really a remarkable sport to be a part of. And so yes, I did end up on a track and field scholarship to Stanford, as a Canadian, it is often hard to get scholarships to NCAA, unless you happen to play hockey in this country, of course, but the reason that I was able to do that was I was in a sport that the coaches never had to see me play. So being from Winnipeg, you know, in the middle of the country where most coaches are probably not going to fly in when it's minus 40 in February, the fact that I had these distances, and I had already competed on a national junior team meant that, you know, just simply having a conversation was enough. And I was fortunate enough to get to sort of have my my choice of where to go. And I was really stumped. You know, my brother was already at school down at TCU, in Texas, and I was undecided whether I wanted to go to the best track and field program, or really what Stanford was at the time, which was the best combination of academic and athletic program. And my brother gave me the best advice. He said, you know, what, 10 years from now, what are you going to least regret not doing. So rather than thinking about where you want it to go. They were all great choices. Sometimes that's the hardest thing is when you have all these amazing choices, right? Um, and so you know, as a as a young kid growing up in Winnipeg, we didn't know about Stanford, it wasn't, I'm sure like when you were I grew up in the US, like we heard about Harvard and Yale in the movie, but that was it. So I didn't really understand it until I got on campus. Just what an amazing opportunity I almost passed up simply because they didn't have the top track team at the time. But I'm so grateful that I got to go to Stanford and have that amazing experience. I can remember showing up in the weight room the first day and Jenny Thompson and Summer Sanders were in there. And my brother had photos of them on his wall, of course, and that, you know, there they were in person. And these were Olympians, like in my weight room, like, what am I doing here? You know, and everybody kind of has that feeling when they first go to Stanford that it's like, You're such a small fish and all of a sudden, this amazingly big pond. I think the ah I was there during the '96 Olympics and 22 athletes from Stanford competed in Atlanta. And that was just, you know, incredible to be there and be around this and yeah, it was, I think it It gave me that impetus to believe that we all could do great things, because these are just people like everybody else. And no, my some of the people in my dorm had already performed at Juilliard and had already done these amazing things. And I just felt like this little kid from Winnipeg, what am I doing here? But Stanford makes you believe, I think so. Anyways, on that note, my coach at Stanford, Robert, we're had this amazing he's a British man who was a throws coach at Stanford, had two young kids who I actually taught to skate he had played in the CFL, which is the Canadian Football League professional football, despite never having played in college. So he had this career in discus, went to the Olympics, played professional football, married a Canadian move back to Stanford to coach went to the Olympics and hammer throw had these two kids. I taught them to skate down in Redwood City.

JOHN MOFFET:

Wow,

Sami Jo Small:

That young five year old girl Julian, just competed in Tokyo in the hammer throw for Canada, which was really special to see that is your mom's connection. Yeah, so that was really neat. So I think we all have these sort of around the world paths that take us to Stanford and these connections that you just don't know how they're going to sort of play out but that was really special for me watching Tokyo and watching her compete.

JOHN MOFFET:

I can't tell you how many stories I have like that as well. So it's it's great to hear that it is a bit of a universal at Stanford to, you know, feel intimidated by your surroundings, but then also appreciate the gifts that you have for whatever reason in your life had led yourself They're

Sami Jo Small:

right. You don't know why. But you're you really, it is a privilege. And you really have to do something with it. That's what I always felt like, like, what can I do with this gift I was given i think i love that attitude that you have about it that it is a gift,

JOHN MOFFET:

really, it definitely is. And so despite being on a track scholarship, and in competing and division, and division one and C two, a competition, you also kept your hockey alive, you you kept playing hockey, but Stanford did not have a women's hockey team.

Sami Jo Small:

Now, so that's actually one of the ways that Robert sold me on Stanford was he said, we have a club men's team here that I think you could probably play on now. What did a British man who was a hammer thrower know about the hockey team? Well, nothing really. But that was one of the incentives was that you know, you could there still a team that you could play on? Well, you're still competing. On there's a club sports day at Stanford where they all line up, you know, in the quad, and you kind of go around. And that's where I kind of met some of the guys from the Stanford men's hockey team. And I asked them if I could play if I could try out too. I said, Well, I mean, I guess you could come and you could skate. So the first time I went out, I think they just assumed that I didn't really have this background within the game. Or maybe didn't realize what level and so at first, I had my own dressing room in a different part of the rink. And I skated I went on the ice with the guys. And, you know, I think slowly but surely they first off, were very intimidated to shoot too hard. They didn't want to hurt me, that was usually the case when I went into a scenario with new people. And then slowly, but surely, they started to shoot harder and harder. And, you know, I had my own dressing room, and they had 30 guys all packed into one small dressing room. So then slowly, but surely, some started to morph over to my side. And eventually, I just kind of got integrated into the team. And it took probably two or three weeks, but I would say that those guys really made a huge impact on my career, not only in hockey, but also just my experience at Stanford having something else, you know, something else that there was no pressure. I was in engineering, I was, you know, in NCAA sport where you're on scholarship, you feel this pressure to perform every weekend, I was often injured. And I just felt like hockey was my solace. It was my no one hour twice a week that I could go practice with the guys and nobody cared, you know, like, nobody, if you showed up, you showed up, that was great. We traveled we played Pac 10. But nobody goes to Stanford to play hockey. So it the expectation was not the same. And I think like a lot of people that join extracurriculars and university that really becomes your network of friends. And those are the guys that we traveled around with. And you know, I set up with some of my friends and all the things that happened in university. So it was really special to find that group apart. And worse, were a place where I could just really be myself and not have to be this engineer trying to get these grades or be this athlete that's supposed to be scoring points. There I could just play. And I think that that's what allowed me to fall back in love with the game again, that there really was no pressure and there was no ulterior motive because it wasn't an Olympic sport. I couldn't try out for the national team. I could simply just play.

JOHN MOFFET:

Wow. Well, you mentioned that you are an Olympics junkie. And you mentioned watching the 84 games with your brother when you were a little girl, etc. So obviously that flame and you never completely died because at some point, I believe it was your junior or senior year. You found your way back to Canada to try out for what was then a new women's sport, which was hockey, right?

Sami Jo Small:

Mm hmm. Yeah, so that was quite the journey for me. And the only reason that I really went to those tryouts. So we found out probably would have been about four years prior. So when I was entering Stanford, I think it was my, maybe my freshman year we found out that women's hockey was going to be an Olympic sport. And here I was in California away from anybody that was doing any selection for any of this. So you know, I really felt a part of it. In fact, my hockey coach asked if I wanted to go to Team USA tryouts in because they had regional tryouts and you know, could I get my citizenship and there was no possible way I could, you know, it wasn't...I had no relatives, I had no connections except for I was here as a student on a visa. So that was never an option. And so I just I felt like it wasn't going to be part of my future. That's just the way it was. I happened to be competing in track and field attempting to earn a spot on the senior national team to go to the Francophone games. So we have not only Pan Am games, we have Francophone games as Canadians and I ended up triple faulting, so it was just a terrible national championship for me, didn't go as I was ever supposed to. And I thought, you know, I'm just gonna head out to Calgary to visit a friend of mine, and there happened to be a women's hockey camp going on at the same time, I'd never been to women's hockey camp, I didn't know any other women that played like I said, I thought this might just be something neat to do. And this was a childhood friend I could you know, visit with and lo and behold, it ended up being where I was seen by the National Team coaches. So very convoluted story. But short story long, basically, it became the place where the right person happened to see me at the right time, and asked if I would come try out for the Olympic team. I didn't think there was any possibility because I'd never really seen myself at the same level as anybody else. I didn't know how to compare myself. It's not like in a timed event where you know exactly how you can how well you can compete against somebody else. For me, it was how, you know, are how good are these girls? I had no idea the level. So it was, it was a very convoluted way of getting to the national team. And often young people in Canada will ask me, you know, how can I? How can I make it onto the national team? How can I get scouted, but how did you do it? And I said, Well, I did it in a an indirect route through California. So I wouldn't really recommend that. But, um, yeah, it just happened at the right time, the right moment. And I think looking back at it, what I learned from every other sport was that you just simply do your best at all times, you know, whatever you're doing, wherever you are, you just compete your hardest. And I happened to be, you know, competing my hardest in a random practice at seven in the morning and got seen by the National Team scout and he liked what he saw. And it just that sort of sparked my career from there. So you know, I could have been that athlete with it was just maybe too tired or didn't want to get off the couch or was lazy because of a seven in the morning. But I just did what I could. And it I guess it all worked out from there.

JOHN MOFFET:

So when you were asked to actually come and practice with the women's Olympic team that created quite a life's decision for you back at Stanford because you were still on scholarship at Stanford. So how did you navigate that?

Sami Jo Small:

Well, it um, I didn't think it would come into fruition, I didn't think that the Crossroads would come to a head. And so I didn't really plan for this, I simply had gone to Calvary with everything to go back to school, I had all my school stuff ready to go and start the first quarter in September. And when they asked me that, I really had to think about it because it wasn't a sure bet that I was going to get to go to the Olympics. This was simply a tryout amongst another 30 women vying for 20 slots. So you know, it was something that this was a lifelong dream of mine to get a scholarship down to the NCAA. And this was obviously every athletes dream to go to the Olympics. But because it wasn't a sure bet, it was really a difficult decision. And I knew that I you know, I was part of a team at Stanford, I didn't want to let them down either. And that was a big thing. My dad had taught me from a young age that whatever you start, you have to finish and you know, you can walk away at the end of a season, but you know, you need to see it through and you need to, you put your name down to something and you owe it to yourself, and you ought to your teammates. So I think that was the toughest decision for me was I felt like I was letting them down. But in an individual sport, like what you and I compete in, there are others that can take your spot as well. And I think that my biggest advocate was my coach, Robert Miller, who had who had already competed in the Olympic Games. You know, I didn't know too many other Olympians. And I think the Olympics changes you I think the Olympics gives you this global perspective. And he had that he was able to look bigger than just his own team. I mean, he knew who he was losing an asset. There wasn't another javelin thrower to take my spot right away. But he knew what I was attempting to do was going to impact me more as a person than simply doing another year at school. Now I didn't know that but he really pushed me into it like you cannot miss out on this opportunity. Really. You'll have a lot of regrets if you don't go there. So he was really the one that sparked that Olympic ideal in me And was the one that pushed me towards that as well now my head coach didn't really love my decision. But my actual specific coach was the one that really was like this is this is something that is so much bigger than just competing at a university in the United States. This is a you know, to be something that you could be part of a world event like this, it will change you forever.

JOHN MOFFET:

We'll be back with Sami Jo Small in just a minute. But first I want to tell you about our Rockstar partners. Roca, their motto is field tested athlete approved Well, let me tell you I've been a Roca user for years and even though I'm an athlete, that's a bit on the older side, I definitely approve, and their gear is the best. And check this out Roca also makes the best performing eyeglasses and sunglasses on the market. And yes, I'm wearing some right now. And they're super light, totally adjustable, and they never fall off my face, even when I'm sweating it. And best of all, I totally forget that I'm wearing them. Roca has dozens of amazing looking styles to choose from. And one of the best things about their classic designs is that I can hit the gym or a night on the town with the same pair of glasses. So whether you need prescription glasses, or some stylish sunglasses, please go check them out, head to roca.com that's rok.com and enter code s lb as in Sports Life Balance. That's three letters to save 20% on your first order. And that's for anything in their catalogue. Enjoy your back listening to Sports Life Balance with John Moffet.

Sami Jo Small:

I'm so glad that he gave me that. That Okay, you know, he was the one that allowed me to start to dream, I think because before that, it was like I just felt so torn up because of it. But he said, you know anybody that is a true teammate is going to understand your decision. And he did. And so I'm forever grateful to him. And it was that's what made it so special to help cheer on his daughter as well as you know, as a Canadian in the Canadian jersey, that he or she was coming full circle. So that was really special for me.

JOHN MOFFET:

Definitely, indeed. Well, so you found yourself training with the squad and I believe and correct me if I'm wrong. This is the first time you'd ever really trained and played games with other women

Sami Jo Small:

just trained in general for hockey. Yes. But also played with women. Yes. Yeah, I mean, I, I joined the the national team, you know, and I tell a story in my book about the coach sending us off or we were training at the Olympic speed skating oval. So the scope coach sends us off on to do four laps at the speed skating oval running. So on the outskirts of it. And at the end of that I thought that was our workout. I mean, I thought that that was that was I was gassed, I was tired. And then the coach was like, Okay, so we're gonna get started with the workout. And I just, you know, I, I think in my three years previous at Stanford, I had run around the track that many times total, also as a thrower, so um, you know, once we got into the weight room, and I could benchpress, all the other people on the team, I realized that we all had these different strengths in these different gifts as athletes, and especially as a goaltender, they don't come in any shape or size, it is goaltending really is a is a mental game. And so while it takes strength, it takes endurance, a lot of that can be trained. And so it was that was hard. I mean, suddenly here I was in this full time program as a full time professional athlete. And it was certainly, I would say, certainly jumpstarted my, like, everything to do with training as a full time athlete from nutrition to sports performance to sleep to the mental side of the game. I really had not been exposed to any of that. So I actually joined the squad a month after they had already been together as well. So I was already behind the eight ball. Because I was at Stanford. I mean, I didn't know about any of this other stuff. So yeah, I joined late, and I was behind everybody else. But I think because I had played all these other sports, I'd been in all these other situations in my life where I wasn't always the best at something I was willing to learn. And I think that that is so valuable for as a skill for people to have is that willingness to learn and to put yourself out there to try something new to not be, you know, to to think that you potentially could fail and be okay with that. And that was a real leap of faith. For me. That was the first time I really had to do that on a grand scale like this in front of others in front of my peers. But I think the willingness to learn from my teammates from my coaches, that everything which is new and fresh and exciting, that just gave me that impetus. Just every day to want to, to learn and grow as an athlete and get better, and how can I make myself a value to this team? You know, it's not simply just being the best goal that you can be How can I be the best teammate to the people around me? So had I come in with these exceptional skills I might not have done that I might not have looked around to see how can I can I be there and be there as a great teammate. And so I think that that's why I was selected for that very first women's Olympic team, the very first women's Olympic tournament, I was selected as a third string goalie and the third string goalie does not see any ice time. You know that going into it. However, I think I was selected based on my attitude and what I was willing to give to the other athletes and the willingness to just be there for others. That's a skill that I think that has really taken me throughout my career. And maybe one that I always haven't always wanted to have, as I have been put in various different roles. But very first team when I was a rookie on the team, I really think that that's how I was selected for the team. And like you said, it was the first time I'd played with women as well. So there are so many magical things about getting to play with your peers that I didn't know that I was missing. What when I could finally shower after playing, I mean, that was just that in and of itself was amazing. Because I played with guys, I always had to leave right away, and then shower back at my dorm or back at home. So that was one thing. But also having the shared experiences of you know, being told we couldn't play being told that we shouldn't play all of you know, having the same hopes the same dreams suddenly was so motivating for me and the women that I got to play alongside were just some incredible people that I'm forever grateful to get to call my friend.

JOHN MOFFET:

Well, that is that of course is like the one of the great lasting things about being an Olympian or Paralympian for that matter, is that you do have these teammates, and you have the shared experiences shared experience that you and I have, we don't, we weren't on Olympic teams at the same time, but we definitely have those shared experiences of that aspiration. And there's something very unifying, I think about that, amongst the athletes of the world.

Sami Jo Small:

Well, I think what the Olympics really is, is this microcosm of this ideal world, you know, and it's, it doesn't exist really in too many other places, but where people from all different backgrounds, and all different countries can come together to share something. And, you know, it could be it could be a different platform, or it could be music, it could be something else. But there's not too many world events like this, that bring people with a shared common collective that no simply want to bring pride back to their own country and want to learn about others that we all have experienced. It is, I think, magical in and of itself. And, you know, obviously, we're all there to do our best, but not all of us do our best in those two groups. And that in and of itself is also a shared experience for a lot of us that you know, how do you train your entire life and then it doesn't go exactly the way you want to? Well, that's most people's real life experience. And so suddenly, now we can we have gone through those things, we can talk about those things, and we can share that those valuable lessons I think with others, not only about excellence and achieving, but also about life and the beauty of what else goes on in those moments when you're not winning gold medals or you're not doing best times or whatever it is, it's all those other moments. You know, as corny as it is, it really is. It's about the love the love of the sport and sharing that with others.

JOHN MOFFET:

Very, very well set. Oh, yeah, yeah. Well, an example of that a specific example is that is that you you made it to Naga now, and you mentioned that you were the third goaltender, which you didn't weren't able to, to hit the ISO view. Your team made it to the gold medal game with USA Tell me a little bit about that game and you watching it from I'm assuming from a bit of a distance and watching how everything went down.

Sami Jo Small:

For sure. So even watching in Tokyo, I think most listeners probably just don't realize that you know, every sport has somebody like what I went through, which is for for hockey was a third string goalie for what I call synchronized swimming, artistic swimming, there would be an extra on every team. Every almost every sport will have something like this. You know, in your sport, there would be the person that swim the prelims and the relay watching the relay final. There is various different people that go through this role. So where does where do those people watch from? Usually there is an athlete section. that's usually where I was. I don't want to say relegated to but allowed to watch from. So I was in the athletes section with most of the male hockey players at the time. And was, you know, it's a it's a unique perspective because everybody kind of wants to know what's going on. And you're in the dressing room between each period, you're around your team, you're just physically not on the ice. And so at times, that can you feel like an Olympian, you feel like you're doing the opening and closing ceremonies, you feel like you're there. But then when it comes time to the performance, you're not competing, so you have these mixed emotions, because you so badly want to be out there, you want to be the one making the difference, you want to be the one that is, you know, able to make those big saves, or do those Fast Times, or whatever it is, and you're not chosen. And so I think for me, it was, you know, part of it was simply getting lost in the moment that Here I am at the Olympics, this is incredible. I was in photography, one on one at Stanford. So I had my little camera with me taking pictures while I was there. And then other moments were tough, because, you know, as the coach is doing her motivational talk between periods for the next period, you're getting all ramped up and amped up, and you realize you're not the one going on the ice. So there was moments that were difficult, for sure. But you know, that first Olympics where I was in that, in that position, I was a rookie. And so I almost felt like this was, you know, part of part of the struggle part of the journey that was going to get me to the place I needed to be. And, you know, people often ask me about my favorite games, to, you know, have been a part of, or to have played and I really, I go back to that final game. And now you know, the very first women's Olympic tournament, and I think one of my favorite moments. While it wasn't a favorite moment for most Canadians is when Cammy Granada, the captain of team, Team USA, received the first gold medal, and she put that around her neck. At the time other people put it around her neck, she didn't have to do that herself this time. But me that is a moment that I think is a lasting legacy within our sport. And while we didn't win the game, the game didn't go the way we wanted it to. And, you know, it made us sad and upset and mad and angry. It was still a moment that 10 years 20 years later, I'm so proud to have been a part of and I think that that is incredible that we were able to get to that sport that point in our sport, where women could compete on the same stage and I am forever grateful to have been a part of that very first women's Olympic hockey tournament and just remembering kameez face when that happened is so special to me. I mean, I wish it was our team. But of course it was it wasn't and we were still a part of it. And such an amazing moment for our sport.

JOHN MOFFET:

Canada ended up receiving the silver medal. But you as the third goalie were not entitled to actually physically have a medal. But meanwhile, the men were right. Mm hmm.

Sami Jo Small:

Yeah, so at the time in, in women's sport, I mean, still today. There are some inequities that that exist within sport. And that was one of them was that our squad was just simply smaller than theirs. So they had a 23 man roster, and we had a 20 man roster. But I was the 21st player. And so as the player that was sitting out, I wasn't considered to be on the team, I was actually considered to be staff. So because staff and coaches don't get medals at the Olympics, that I didn't get a medal. And so I really wasn't aware of that going into those moments. And I write a lot about that in the book about finding out that I would not be getting a medal, I didn't know what was going to happen at the end of the game. I assumed we would win the gold medal and everybody would be jubilant and excited and I could join my teammates on the line. But that didn't happen. And that was tough because while I never expected to go to those Olympic Games quickly a dream manifested within within me and wanted to be part of it and you know, felt like I was on the team and felt like I was only being and then when I had to watch from the sidelines as my teammates received their medals. You know it selfishly it made it easier that we lost because they were also sad so it made it okay that I was sad. But, you know, I think in that in that moment, I had never really gone through something where I simply had to accept my own feelings and be there for others like that. That was my First experience like that, and just wanting it to be so different, wanting life to have turned out differently. And not really having an appreciation of where I was or what I was doing here I am on the top of the world at the Olympic Games simply getting to be there. I mean, had you asked me four years prior, if I wanted to be a tourist at the Olympic Games, I would have hopped at the opportunity. However, you know, you quickly believe you start to believe and you start to have these dreams and these hopes and these goals and they are like people so when those die or those don't happen, the way we want it is this feeling of you know, that of loss that you you know, that you have that is just it's it's difficult to sort of come around from that. But, you know, I was lucky to be in a team sport, where I had others, that were also going through a difficult time. And it did sparked something within me to want to go back to the Olympic Games to wanting to train as a hockey player and to be around these women to be around these coaches. And so of course, I think there's, you know, a greater purpose for why we go through some of the struggles we go through. And ultimately, I think it's it lends itself to the journey to the story and to helping I think my journey be relatable to others as well, because we all go through moments where we wish it were different, or we want it to be different, or we wish we could be a part of something giving that big presentation or just the person getting the rewards or the accolades. But often we are not often we are the ones that are helping others to achieve. And, you know, finding that purpose, finding that value within that can be hard at times, but I think is very important. And so I realized that, you know, many years later why I was there and what the purpose was, was really not about the reward, but about the journey that I was on and the people that I was meeting and about being proud of the way I was playing my role. And ultimately, that's all we can do is be proud of what you do each and every day, regardless of the roles that other people put you in.

JOHN MOFFET:

Well, that's a very valuable life lesson to have learned through sport and yet one more example of why I'm doing this podcast Um, so you mentioned you know how much this experience in Nagano meant to it really lit the flame so that you decided that you wanted to train for another four years. And in the course of those four years, I believe your Team Canada won three World Championships is am I getting that? Correct? Correct?

Sami Jo Small:

Yeah, so we have a world championship every non Olympic year and so we ended up winning three straight World Championships, going into Salt Lake City. So we we did have a ton of confidence. You know, I I and for me, personally, I ended up graduating from university having to decide whether to accept a high paying job in the Silicon Valley. Like most of my classmates at the time, it was either that or moved to that was one choice or moved to Canada full time to play hockey full time, and be a full time hockey player for basically no money. So I can remember my parents being like you're gonna get a job, right? Like this is this is kind of what we do. And you know, having to sort of say that this, that my dream was not over that this is something that I wanted to do. And as you know, quote, I say, quote, unquote, amateur athletes because we're not amateur athletes. But amateur athlete pay is what I will say that it wasn't always easy, but I'd lived like a student for four years. So coming to Canada, living full time on what we call in Canada carding money. So we have a stipend that we received from the federal government. That is minimal. It's below the poverty line. But as long as a bunch of us can live together, you know, you can kind of make it work. And so I was suddenly thrust in to the number one starting position as a goaltender. So I was the goalie, they got to make the big saves and the big game championships. And I'd like to say it's because I worked hard, and I pushed myself and I did all of that. But it certainly helped that the starting goaltender she got pregnant. That's kind of how it happens in women's sport is that you kind of decide based around your Olympic quad when you're going to start a family and so it was my opportunity to kind of jump in there and have this these amazing experiences. It was kind of once again, right place at the right time. And I was given the reins as a goaltender. For me getting to play in some World Championship Finals and playing in some big moments for Canada. I found it exhilarating I found it so motivating that I wanted to be in that position going into Salt Lake City. And it was I felt like I was in a very natural state for me to be leader on the team and a leader on the ice that was very easy for me to sort of navigate. And so we how it works for hockey in our country. And for the most part in the US as well in women's hockey is that in an Olympic year, we go through what's called centralization. So we all move to the same location for the entire year leading up to the Olympic Games for us to Calgary for the whole entire year leading up to the Olympic Games. And in that year, the coaches organized eight exhibition games for us against our main rivals, the Americans. And we didn't win one single game, their team just took off, they clicked, they were on the ice, they just jailed and they were working really well together. For us, I think it was hard, because that year is not only grueling, but the coaches really pushed us to the max. I mean, they put us through more intense training than we had ever done. You know, I think the Americans were playing to win those games. And so were we we just didn't know our bodies weren't ready to be there until February or, you know, our coaches believed that they believed in the physiologists that worked with our teams. But we were frustrated, you know, it was hard, and girls were getting cut along the way as well. And in a team environment, that's hard because you're, if you're so much focus on a team, and then the coaches cut somebody, and it's hard to not be angry at the people making the decisions. It's hard not to be angry at the people left in your friend spots. It's hard not to be it's hard to read yell after moments like that happen. And that sort of happened over the course of eight months for us leading up to the Olympic Games, and we had all these losses as well. And so going into Salt Lake City, not too many people believe that we could possibly win a gold medal. But we believed and i think that you know, people always ask me how can you guys had so much confidence when you lost every single game the whole year, and I think it's truly because we went through this together that you know, I knew how hard the person beside me had worked. I had seen their ups I'd seen their downs and had we not gone through all those failures I would have not known how to pick them up in those moments. You know, knowing whether a teammate needs a shoulder to cry on or needs a kick in the pants is really important to know when you are suddenly on the world stage in front of a live audience had we not gone through those moments before we would have never known that and I could sit in the dressing room before the final game and and know they had become the absolute best hockey players they could be and it didn't mean they're the best in the entire world just simply the best that they could be on that day because I watched them go through it you know I held their hands and pick them back up and they did the same for me and I think that that was something that we had never really experienced as a team before because we had had such success together that as painful as all of that was to go through I'm glad we went through it because it made us ready for the Olympics and ready to go to battle with each other and just be there for each other and at the end of the day we said you know if we go oh and nine What's it matter we've already gone on eight so let's all put it out there whereas the Americans I felt like knowing them now and you know having some friends that I played with the pressure that was on them to play in a home Olympics was enormous it's not easy to perform at home. I think that that we were able to tap into the underdog at the time even though you know despite the fact that we had won three straight World Championships we we called ourselves the underdog we thought of ourselves the underdog and it's easier to I think fight from behind sometimes in that environment.

JOHN MOFFET:

And so it ended up being a final game or the gold medal it was you and Canada and USA huh? How did that turn out?

Sami Jo Small:

So well I'll let your listeners know that we won so that's exciting as a team but you know, I...this is the main trust in the book is the main sort of plot twist is that the night before the final game, the coaches came to me and said, Sami Jo, we're going to be starting the other goalie Kim St. Pierre in the final game and I remember hearing that news and just being in such disbelief that this isn't the way it's supposed to go. I I had never planned for this. I think as athletes we don't plan for it to not turn out the way we want to. We don't plan for moments to sit on the bench I you know, I was the coaches told me I knew their decision was made. So you know, I couldn't say anything to them. We didn't have cell phones at the time. I couldn't call any of my friends. My my best friends were on that team. I didn't want to burden them the night before their gold medal game. And so I just went down into the athletes village, you haven't been to the village, you know how wide and vast they are. And I just I just wandered around, lost, feeling like my dream, my Olympic dream was over, the gold medal game hadn't even played been played. And yet I felt like I, there's nothing I could do to change that result of the game, I was going to have to simply sit on the bench and watch. And I didn't know how to play that role. I didn't want to play that role. I mean, who knows training for 25 years to be the best possible cheerleader in the whole entire world. But after wandering around for probably a solid four hours into the middle of night, well, I soon realize that I did have a choice, you know, I had a choice to feel that same way the next day, you know, I don't think you become an elite athlete unless you want to be the go to person at the go to moment. But I realized that, you know, if I decided to feel that same way, the next day, like it should have been different, or I wanted it to be different, that it simply would bring my teammates down. And what good is that you know, what good is having somebody like that, that is feeling sorry for themselves around you. And so I decided to make the second choice, which was to play my role to the best of my ability. And it like I said, it wasn't a role I wanted. But often we are put in these in these roles in these challenging roles to be there for others. I mean, any parent knows exactly what that's like, of course. And so that next morning, I can remember waking up next to my roommate at the time, Jennifer Bottrell, who was one of my best friends, and four time Olympian. And, you know, when I woke up, I had forgotten I wasn't playing. And, you know, I smiled at her, and she smiled back, it was gold medal day, and then I realized I wasn't going to get to play. And, you know, she gave me the biggest hug that day, and just really encouraged me. And just knowing that, you know, I could still support my teammates in my own way, and be there for them. So you know, I put that big smile on my face that I you know, tried to do, and it wasn't always easy, for sure, the day was tough. But I tried to tell the same jokes, I always tell I tried to encourage them the best way that I knew how it you know, whether it was where to shoot on the goaltender or whether to go and fill their water bottle when they were doing something else or go get their towel when they're getting ready for me to interview whatever it was that I could do to kind of a give myself something to do, to feel a value, but also to uplift them and make them ready and help them be the best that they could be on that gold medal day. So during the game, I sat on the bench and, you know, at moments I got lost in the play, I got lost in the game, I love watching women's hockey, and other moments, you know, I wished it was different other moments, I wished that my goalie would suddenly let in lots of goals, and they would need me to go in. And then, you know, you think about and you're like, well, then my team would not win. And ultimately, I want my team and my friends to be happy. And so you have this continuous sort of battle back and forth within yourself of wanting your team to not possibly be able to go on without you. And yet they do. You know, they always do. And so how can you still be of value? How can you still play your role to the best of your ability. And so at the end of the game, when I looked up and the buzzer went off, and we had won, you know, I jumped over the boards and I jumped on top of him same pair along with all of my teammates, she had played an amazing game for us that day and really won it for us. And I remember being in the big melee at the end. And at that moment, not thinking about me, thinking about us and how this journey had been a success and how we could stand on that goal, that blue line, singing our national anthem, way, way off key because that's what we do as Olympic athletes. And that we, we could do this together that our goal had been accomplished together, and I was thinking about them and their journeys. And these women that had been told from a young age, they should not play this game. Here they are on top of the world and I whether it was a small part or a big part, we all played that part. And looking down at the gold medal, when they put it around my neck, I realized that, you know, it didn't matter whether you scored the big goals or you or you made the big saves or like me you cheered as loud as you possibly could, that that that metal looks the same. You know, you're still just as much a part of the team as anybody else. We are all just as valuable in our own small way to the greater goals that we create. And ultimately, it's not about that it's about those women and those connections that I was able to make along the way.

JOHN MOFFET:

a valuable lesson indeed. And I think that so much of the story that you're telling your personal story is the story that so many people when they're watching the Olympics like people are watching Tokyo is that how that there is level of heartbreak on pretty much every level of Olympic competition and Paralympic competition as well. And you and I have a mutual friend who also was a hockey player, USA hockey player and I don't want to say her name, but she read your book. And she said, the way that you portrayed your feelings in the book is the way she feels about the sport. And she is by any measure, a phenomenally successful Olympic hockey player.

Sami Jo Small:

Mm hmm. I think that all of us in life, not just athletes, we always want more, you know, and we, you know, I equate it to a hockey team. First, you just want to make the team. And then you're just excited to make the team and then you want to be on the top three lines, then you want to be on the top two lines, then you're on the top two lines, you want to be on the powerplay, and why am I not on the powerplay then you make the powerplay and you want to be the person taking the shootout final shot. And there's just always more and more and more and even as Olympic athletes, you know, I saw some I saw some swimmers in Tokyo touch and just narrowly missed a world record but they got a gold medal and look disappointed, you know, and having wanted more, we always want sort of that next thing. And so that's not a bad thing as a as a human nature. But it is interesting, the you know, the the role that I now see myself in is sharing that message that those feelings are okay, that, that that is human nature and to not beat ourselves up for it. And to really feel it. I had an interesting conversation with. So this time, our women's soccer team was able to win the gold medal, which is exciting and amazing for our country. Three Olympics ago was our first bronze medal. And in soccer and women's soccer, you have to have played a minute of the game in order to get a medal. And there was one athlete that didn't get on the pitch at all. I don't know why. But regardless, she didn't. And so she didn't have a medal. So all of Canada was celebrating this first ever soccer medal that we had ever won the small nation. And she wasn't, you know, she didn't feel a part of it. And so it was actually her coaches that called me up and asked if I could have a conversation with her. And really, so it's interesting now the people that I get to meet, because of the shared experience, but the shared experiences that we have are not always about the victories, sometimes it's about the defeats, or the tough moments are the moments we want to have gone differently. And that really is my biggest message to to others is to allow yourself to have those moments and don't just candy coated over, don't just want to immediately change it. But to feel it. I mean, I think as as, as people and individuals and as sort of as humans, that we should allow ourselves to feel the downs as well, because that will impact us just as much forever as the ups. And you know, I think for most of us as athletes, we don't even take time to celebrate our ups, let alone allow ourselves to feel the downs. So I think that both of those are just as integral and just as important to who we become. You know, I I think the people that I see that have had the biggest impact post Olympic career are the ones that learned valuable lessons in the process. Now the ones that really, that felt that that lived that were it not necessarily the ones that were the ones that won all the medals of the games are the ones that were, you know, the big names that we all think of, but the ones that went through challenging times through tough moments, I think of Simone Biles and her journey in Tokyo and what that will mean for the future of mental health for athletes, the impact that she could have by not being okay will go will be a lasting legacy. And so I think that, you know, I really, truly believe the the Olympics is can change people, but it always ends up being a positive change, regardless of if we think that the Olympics should have gone differently for us or not. In the end, I think what all of us learn is more about ourselves and more how we can impact society as a whole.

JOHN MOFFET:

You, you had a passage in in the book and it will you you speak of this in many different ways Isn't that your Olympics experience you did go to turn by the way in 2006 and had a similar experience where to the first one where you were the third goalie and they won gold But you weren't able to actually receive a gold. You mentioned in your book that your Olympic experience changed you It changed you as a person. It changed your outlook. It made you really really embrace the sadness, and look for the joy and happiness in your own life. Explain that to me, and how you feel about that now that it's been many years removed from your journey through the Olympic Games.

Sami Jo Small:

Yeah, I mean, I guess that's a great way of putting it. Um, I, I think sport in and of itself is inherently very selfish. And, you know, we, we put so much into our own bodies, we are constantly toiling away really in obscurity in our own minds, and putting in the long hours for ourselves, for us to be better. And so, you know, I think had I had this experience of simply going through without challenges, becoming a three time Olympian, without all of these moments, I think that I would have been inherently a selfish person, I don't think I would have stopped to see the good in everyone to see the roles that people are playing, and how much the impact that everybody has on society, I don't think I would, you know, know, my neighbors as well, I don't think I would turn to that little dog and ask the person who belonged to the leash about their life, you know, little things like what you did with my friend, Shannon, would you have done at the height of your swimming career? Maybe not. Because, you know, we're all kind of stuck in our own head at times. And I think what it did was allowed me some space, to grieve to find joy, to experience highs and lows with others, whether it was an individual sport or a team sport, I don't think it mattered. Because even within an individual sport, there are so many other people that go into your career. You know, as a young athlete, I don't think I took the time to thank my coaches as much as I should have, I don't think I was, you know, realizing just how much of an impact the, the trainers and physiologist and just everybody else that went into creating these top level athletes. But when suddenly I was put into a third goal a role I, you know, I saw that I saw them all for the first time. And I kind of had to look around and, and see them as people and get to know them as people because I had time. And because of that. And because of what I went through, I think that it became bigger than just me, how can I leave a lasting legacy on the sport that has given me so much, and I don't think I would have had the time to allow myself to think that way. Until when it came to sort of the, I guess, decade long that I played on the national team. And I wanted the sport to be better than when I got into it. And I wanted the sport to have more of an impact on more girls. So they could have more of these experiences in Canada. And it could be you know, it could be accepted for fathers to put their daughters in the game. And so along the way, I just decided to start a hockey school to give back to young girls so they too, could play and have these amazing experiences. I started a league for my peers to be able to play in so that we could all take sport and hockey to the next level and so that women could be seen on some sort of equal footing with our male peers. And I felt like I I owed it to the game, I owed it to all those people that had put in so much time to me that perhaps along the way I didn't have time to think. And not that it's you know, I think as athletes, you have to just have these blinders and you have to have this focus. So I'm not saying that current athletes should necessarily open their eyes wider. But I think that we all need to realize that there are more than just ourselves in the world and that we need to in the grocery store Say hello to the person in front of you, you know, little things like that, that, you know, how can you just have whether it's a small impact or a big impact on somebody's life, but how can you make somebody's life better today? What can you do to simply bring a smile to somebody's face? Because on those tough moments, others did that for me. And I want to be able to give that to others as well and to share that those moments of sorrow and sadness and joy and happiness and everything that goes into being part of the human existence, I guess.

JOHN MOFFET:

Well, Sami Jo, it's definitely been an inspiration and you are most definitely creating a great legacy for yourself and for the sport but I just want to extend my thanks also for Telling us your message and for our listeners to be able to listen to all the things that you learned about your role. So thank you again for being part of Sports Life Balance.

Sami Jo Small:

Well, thank you, John. And I hope you have a big house because we're all coming to visit LA 2024 or LA 2028...where that will be in Paris. But we will be there. And hopefully you can house half of this country because I think we'll all be down there watching the Olympic Games. So this has been a truly pleasure and honor, I know when I got when I saw you were on the list of the tech school of business that I was taking it was, to me, you are this icon. So thank you, not only as a Stanford alum, but for all that you have done for sport and not just an Olympic sport, but Paralympic sport. And I know that you will continue to do as well. So I can't wait to see where where you end up and what kind of lasting impact that you have as well, because you've already had so much and I'm just so grateful that you were that you had me on your show. So thank you. This has been a real pleasure.

JOHN MOFFET:

Thanks Sami Joe.

Sami Jo Small:

Thank you Take care.

JOHN MOFFET:

Sami Jo wants to leave you with a quote from her book that relates as much to life as it does to sports. She writes, we don't always get to choose the role we play, but we always get to choose the way we play it. If you would like to find out more about Sami Jo's life journey through sports, her book is called The Role I Played and you can pick it up through

her website:

one word, samijosmall.ca. That's S-A-M-I-J-O-S-M-A-L-L .ca. as in Canada. I hope you found Sami Jo's episode of Sports Life Balance revealing and inspirational and of course insightful and if you did, please spread the word. I'm John Moffet. Thanks for joining us. And we'll be back next week with a brand new episode. Be well everyone. Thanks for listening. We hope you enjoyed Sports Life Balance.

Sami Jo Small Profile Photo

Sami Jo Small

3X Olympic medalist and four-time World Championship medalist