Working overtime: Canadian hockey player is also a cop
Veteran forward Meghan Agosta does double duty
There is an undeniable feeling of pride Meghan Agosta feels when she puts on her sweater in preparation of representing Canada on the international hockey stage.
The veteran left winger, who turns 31 in February, when Canada will participate in the 2018 Olympic Games in South Korea, knows the feeling so well. She has represented her country in the past three Olympics as well as eight world championships.
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Agosta gets the same sensational feeling every time she puts on her other uniform — that of the Vancouver Police Department.
"It's the same," Agosta says. "Every time I put it on I wear it with pride."
Agosta decided in high school she wanted to become a police officer. She chose to attend Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa., because it had a highly regarded criminal justice program. Then, after participating in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, she was hired by the Vancouver P.D.
"I'll never forget that my brother came with me and we tried on the uniform," Agosta recalls. "I got fitted and I just had a smile from ear to ear. It was a dream come true. I always had two main goals in my life: to represent Canada and to become a police officer.
"I'm so proud to be able to represent the Vancouver Police Department. It has been so supportive of me throughout the last three years with continuing with my hopes of going to another Olympic Games."
'Best show in town'
Agosta took a year off from playing hockey while she threw herself into her new career. It's a job that can be dangerous, but one she loves. In fact, she says working as a police officer is almost like a hobby to her because she loves it so much.
"I have honestly seen everything. You can't make it up," Agosta says. "It is literally the front-row seat to the best show in town. I truly believe that. I have seen everything: deaths, suicides, domestics, homicides. You watch it on TV and you're like, 'Wow, that's kind of crazy.' But it's real life and it does happen."
Sports teams have been known to have a dressing room snitch — someone who has a pipeline to the coach's office. But what about having an actual cop in the room?
"I don't think she has really changed much since she has become a cop," says teammate Natalie Spooner with a laugh. "Obviously she has some funny stories about being a cop that she tells us, but she's still the same, goofy, fun Agosta. We love her and she definitely brings a light feeling to the dressing room."
Being a police officer has changed the way Agosta views life.
"I don't take life for granted and life is very short. So I would say to people, live each day to the fullest because you never know when it will be your last," Agosta says. "It's the same with putting on the Canadian jersey — put it on with pride and play each game like it's your last game. You could get hurt, get injured very quickly and it could be over in an instant."
Agosta considered retiring from the national team, but after a period of reflection she decided there's still gas left in the tank. That's good news for Team Canada, since she has been a very effective Olympian, scoring 15 goals and 23 points in 15 games.
It has meant making sacrifices, though.
"There is no women's hockey program in Vancouver and I do shift work," Agosta says. "I've had to eat and sleep at different times as well as train at different times. I've had to work 12-hour shifts and then head to the rink or the gym to work out.
"When you're the most tired is when, I guess, you become a better athlete. When you get through those tough times you know you're able to conquer anything."
Team Canada has been centralized in Calgary since early August and recently completed a six-game series of pre-Olympic exhibitions against the rival United States. Canada won five of those, capped by last Sunday's 2-1 overtime victory in Edmonton.
The U.S., however, won the Four Nations Cup in Tampa in November, routing Canada 5-1 in the gold-medal game. The Canadian women have also been staying sharp by playing in a midget boys' triple-A league in Alberta.
With a number of young players trying to crack the Olympic team lineup for the first time, Agosta believes her role with the group has changed.
"Even though I still bring my skill and talent, I feel like I bring a different role within the team as far as leadership is concerned," Agosta says. "It's about taking the younger kids under my wing and showing them the ropes and helping them with the centralization year because it's a long year and a long journey.
"It goes fast, so I have to help them take it all in and enjoy the moment because I never know when it's going to be my last."