Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Hayley Wickenheiser gracing breakfast tables across Canada as one of the faces for Cheerios

As Hayley Wickenheiser looks to win a fourth gold medal with the Canadian National Women’s Team at the Sochi Winter Games, part of the journey includes a very rare product endorsement. Wickenheiser is part of a select group of athletes featured on General Mills food products in anticipation of Sochi.

Gracing the boxes of Multi-Grain Cheerios, it is an exciting honor which recognizes her as more than just a Canadian sporting hero, but one of the greatest women’s hockey players ever. In addition, her image is also on the boxes of various Nature Valley Granola Bars. Other female athletes that graced various General Mills products included Roz Groenewold and Caroline Calve.

Of note, the General Mills endorsement is part of an exciting 2013 for Wickenheiser. Although she battled through injuries with the University of Calgary Dinos women’s hockey program, the club managed to qualify for the 2013 CIS National championship game. Despite a silver medal, their effort was testament to Wickenheiser’s leadership and positive impact. Her Dinos career included 115 points (on the strength of 65 assists) in 53 Canada West Conference contests.

Perhaps her greatest accomplishment was graduating from the University in the spring. Having first enrolled at the university in 1996, her long academic journey reached its hard-earned yet celebrated ending as she earned her Bachelors Degree in Kinesiology. With her parents (both educators) and son, Noah, in attendance, the moment was a treasured one for her. While she has ambitions for medical school (she has already written the Medical College Admissions Test), her perseverance academically is a true inspiration for other student-athletes.
Complemented by a 2013 on the ice that saw Wickenheiser don the historic black and yellow Livestrong jerseys at the 2013 IIHF Women’s World Championships. Of note, her sister Jane is a cancer survivor. Later in the year, she would also play in her 250th career game for Canada while earning a gold medal at the 2013 Four Nations Cup.

Barring injury, the Sochi Winter Games shall represent her fifth sojourn with the Canadian contingent. Teammate Jayna Hefford is also in the same rarified air as Wickenheiser, as Sochi shall represent her fifth run. While it seems all too likely that Sochi may be her swan song, the General Mills endorsement is a remarkable reminder to fans, hardcore and casual, of her meaning to not just the game of women’s hockey, but to Canadian culture. 
Photo credit: Shaking hands with U of Calgary chancellor Jim Dinning. (Riley Brandt)

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