Ray Ferraro and wife Cammi Granato enjoy some table hockey in their Vancouver home. Granato’s hockey school for girls will start Monday at North Shore Winter Club.
Jason Payne / Postmedia News Files
The Olympic gold medallist wants to empower more young women through the power of sport.As captain of the first U.S. Olympic women’s hockey champions, Cammi Granato witnessed the power of inspiration when she got home from the 1998 Nagano Olympics.Days after Granato and her American teammates defeated Canada 3-1 in the inaugural women’s hockey gold-medal game, the team returned to familiar shores to a roaring reception.“We didn’t realize how many people were watching,” she recalled this week. “No one knew who we were before.”Suddenly they were heroes. Fans wanted to meet them, get their autographs and photographs. And enrol in their hockey schools.Granato hosted a hockey camp after the Nagano win and the attendance blew her out of the water. Something like 180 girls showed up, she said.“We could walk into a hockey rink and people wouldn’t say ‘oh you’re carrying your brother’s bag’ anymore,” she said.That motivated her to stage additional hockey schools.“For years and years,” she said. She moved to Vancouver in 2002 and kept the school going until she and husband Ray Ferraro started a family. Son Riley was born in 2006, followed by second son Reese in 2009.A decade later, she’s bringing her hockey school back to the North Shore Winter Club. The camp runs Monday to Aug. 16. (Registration for atom, peewee and bantam-aged players is still open via the North Shore Winter Club website.)Each six-hour day at camp features two on-ice sessions, leadership and team-building activities and dry-land workouts. Granato will be joined on ice by her niece Ally Granato, who plays for the University of Vermont, and former Concordia University teammate Erin Leslie, who will lead the off-ice activities.“It’s more than just sending your kid off on the ice,” she said. “It’s about teaching them they’re special, they’re important. We make it fun and teach about the power of the group.”Although the Canadian Women’s Hockey League folded earlier this year and the U.S.-based National Women’s Hockey League is barely holding on, Granato thinks the women’s game remains on the upswing.Just look at Kendall Coyne-Schofield’s — a former Granato camper, she pointed out — performance at last season’s NHL All-Star Game.“She showcased where women are,” Granato said. For her part, Coyne-Schofield has credited Granato in the past for inspiring her to believe she could become a star for the American’s women’s team.And how young fans now view women’s hockey says plenty, too.“The momentum right now for women’s sports is better than ever,” she said. “We’re seeing stuff happening now that we were hoping for 20 years ago.”“This generation is growing up not differentiating,” she said. “You don’t need to be defined as a ‘women’s’ hockey player anymore. I was just a hockey player.”email@example.com/risingactionCLICK HERE to report a typo.Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email firstname.lastname@example.org