January 23, 2023 | at the FISU Winter University Games
Canada’s women’s ice hockey team at the 2023 FISU World University Games in Lake Placid is Madison Willan, a third-year science student at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
“Of course, it’s a great honour. You know, every time you put on a maple leaf, it’s a privilege to be here. There are many talented hockey players all over the country. So being chosen as one of them is obviously a great feeling,” said Willan.
Ice hockey at FISU games can be very grueling as teams play almost every day to qualify for medal matches, but Willan enjoyed every element of the game.
“Nothing like that exists. It is a very special event and it was a lot of fun. It’s really fun to get to know other countries and see what it’s like in different parts of the world.”
In addition to hockey, Willan also plays baseball for Team Canada and competes for his university in golf. Being a student-athlete is already demanding, but getting involved in three more sports requires her to balance her time wisely.
“You definitely need to prioritize your time, and you need to manage your time to the best of your ability. I try to play hockey during the hockey season and baseball and golf in the summer.
Willan only recently returned to golf as it was the only sport she could play during the pandemic and she fell in love with it.
Her involvement in many sports was influenced by her family.
“When I was younger, I was blessed by my parents who sent me to many summer camps. And I sort of developed some basic skills. And by doing that when I was younger, I already had those skills. There’s a crossover benefit that I’ve had.”
Choosing the sport he likes the most is always difficult because he loves each sport differently and there are different elements he can apply to each one.
“I feel like hockey is a team sport and baseball has its individual elements in a team sport. And golf is purely an individual thing.”
Her passion for athletics is obvious, but so is her passion for science.
“Since I was younger, I have been passionate about learning about the Earth and its dynamics and what our future looks like in this area. It was really interesting to learn about it.”
Even with this passion, there are times when things get hard.
“But for me it all comes down to ‘why’ and ‘why am I doing all this.’ And that’s because I enjoy it. I enjoy everything I do, he says with a smile.
Willan also mentioned that without her supportive parents and coaches, none of this would have been possible. All of her coaches in all three sports understand her situation and support her goals to be involved in all three sports at the highest level.
Ahead of Saturday’s women’s hockey final, the proud Canadian said she hoped to try to take it step by step, which was Team Canada’s motto throughout the FISU Games tournament.
“Take advantage of the opportunity and try to make the most of it.”
And she made the most of it – along with her teammates.
Canada won gold with a 5-0 win over Japan, returning to the FISU World University Games podium for the first time since Trentino 2013.