One of Canada’s most dynamic and creative players, Sarah Vaillancourt retires at 27.
Sarah Vaillancourt made her debut with Canada’s team as an 18-year-old in 2003 and appeared in a total of 107 games with the national team, amassing 45 goals, 53 assists and 98 points. Vaillancourt won Olympic gold in 2006 and 2010, world championship gold in 2007, and silver medals at the 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2013 world championships. The Sherbrooke, Que., native is a graduate of Canada’s under-22 program as well, serving as team captain in 2006-07 and helping Canada win gold at the Air Canada Cup in Germany in 2005 and 2007.
Here is an interview done late April via email; she explains the whole story on why she retired at 27.
EE: You started playing with Team Canada as an 18 year old and now you are 27; can you fans give some of the highlights of this period which is almost a decade?
SV: Making the Olympic team for the first time in 2006 was quite the highlight, and participating and wining on home soil during the 2010 Olympics is something I'll always remember. Most importantly, it is the friendships that I've made over the years that I will keep and cherish forever.
EE: You had injuries; abdominal and hip surgery; what else happened in terms of injuries over the years?
SV: 3 surgeries...Nov. 2010 right sport hernia, Jan. 2012 left hip torn labrum, and Nov. 2012 left sport hernia.
EE: How did that impact your decision to retire?
SV: It played a major role in my decision, but my decision wasn't solely based on my injuries/surgeries.
EE: You had such a strong world championship in 2013, many fans would be surprized at your departure at this time? How was the world championship from your point of view and did that experience impact your decision?
SV: I was happy about my world championship, despite our loss in the final game. I knew I was retiring before the start of the tournament, so I went into it enjoying every second of it with my teammates and savoring every second of wearing the Maple leaf on my chest. I'm very grateful that I was able to play one last tournament with my teammates and in front of our amazing Canadian fans.
EE: You said in HC press release; “While it was difficult for me to come to this decision to retire, I know that there are great challenges and opportunities ahead for me.” Why did you make this decision now?
SV: Because an Olympic year is extremely demanding physically. I didn't want to take the risk of going through what I underwent post the 2010 Olympic year. (3 years of surgery) I didn't want to have to quit my amazing job here in Sherbrooke and I didn't want to have to postpone my Master's degree in education. Basically, I wasn't ready to make the sacrifices that are involved when moving to Calgary for 7 months.
EE: What are the challenges ahead of you?
SV: Completing my Master's degree in Education and having children within the next few years with my girlfriend. We are also in the midst of building our house, and I'm very thrilled about that!
EE: Are you still working for the sports school?
SV: Yes and I'm planning to get even more involved next year.
EE: Will you play for Montreal team next year? So still involved in hockey?
SV: Yes definitely and I'm very excited about it. We will still have a great team next year, and I'm looking forward to playing hockey as a hobby…(smile icon here)
EE: You have dreamed about playing for TC and realized the dream but it seems like a short time to fans who love to watch you playing with such imagination and skill.
SV: Yes well I had always said that I was going to retire when I was 28. Initially my plan was to retire post-Olympics, but I'll be 28 on May 8th, so I guess I wasn't too far off. I have accomplished what I wanted while playing for the national team and I've had the chance to live my dream for close to a decade, but I'm not one to linger and repeat things over and over again. I love new challenges; therefore, I'm ready for new ones and I'm ready to have a family with my girlfriend.
EE: What will you miss about the game and the team?
SV: I will miss my teammates. I will miss playing, struggling, laughing, working hard, winning, and competing with them. However, I know that what we've accomplished together and the friendships that we've made will last forever. I will miss wearing the Canadian Maple Leaf on my heart and going to battle on the ice with my teammates. I will miss playing in front of our wonderful Canadian fans. I will miss representing my country. But I'm happy that I can say that I will miss these things because that means that I've had the PRIVILEGE of experiencing them all. I feel extremely lucky, and even luckier to still be able to play hockey for more years.