Saskatoon forward lands spot on Canadian Olympic women's hockey team

Emily Clark, 22, is the youngest woman on Canada's Olympic hockey team, and the only player from Saskatchewan.

Emily Clark is the only Saskatchewan player on Team Canada at Pyeongchang Games

Canada's Emily Clark will make her Olympic debut in South Korea next month. (Kevin Light Photography/CBC)

Emily Clark remembers falling in love with hockey as a six-year-old.

It wasn't long before she put a hand-drawn sign on her bedroom wall, with her intention of playing for Team Saskatchewan and for Team Canada.

"You stay hopeful," said Clark, who took a year off from playing at the University of Wisconsin this fall, hoping to crack Team Canada's roster. 

"Having that long-term goal and reminder of it every day, I think that helped me," said the 22-year-old forward, who grew up playing on boys' teams in Saskatoon.

Clark is the youngest member of the Canadian women's team for the 2018 Olympic Games next month in South Korea, and the lone player from Saskatchewan.

The Canadian women are five-time defending champions at the Olympic level, although the Americans have won the past four IIHF World Women's Championships tournaments — all victories over Team Canada.

"Every game that we have against them is tight and intense, so they'll be our biggest competition for sure," Clark said. "We have just a certain grit to our game and a certain work ethic that's unmatched."

This handwritten note on Clark's wall reminded her every day to work harder. (Emily Clark)

Hockey comes natural for Clark

Clark is the youngest of six children and grew up in hockey rinks watching her four older brothers play.

"It was pretty natural for me to follow in their footsteps and I fell in love with it as soon as I started," said Clark.

By 14, she was competing for Team Saskatchewan at the Canada Winter Games, and went on to compete for Team Canada at three world championships. 

Emily Clark, 22, grew up playing on boys' teams in Saskatoon. She's played for the University of Wisconsin since 2014, but took this year off with the hopes of competing for Team Canada. (Kevin Light Photography/CBC)

She said she'll focus on staying hydrated and well-rested at the Pyeongchang Games.

"It's such a short-term competition and a lot of volume in that time," Clark told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning. "I have so many great mentors that leading into the Olympics I'll have a lot of support and advice."

Clark said her advice to any player hoping to follow in her footsteps is simple: "You have to be willing to work a little harder than everyone else, whether it's, you know, sacrificing a few early mornings or staying in some nights."

"Be willing to put in the extra work, and to find the fun in the extra work — 'cause that's going to make it more enjoyable," she added.

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning

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