Representing Canada in women’s hockey at the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games is Madison Willan, a third-year forward and science student at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton.
“Obviously, it’s a huge honour. You know, every time that you put on the maple leaf, it’s a privilege to be here. There are many talented hockey players across the nation. So to be selected as one of them is obviously a great feeling,” Willan said.
Ice hockey at the FISU games can be very taxing as teams play almost every day to qualify for the medal matches, but Willan enjoyed every part of it.
“There’s nothing really like this. This is a very unique event and it’s been a lot of fun. It’s really cool to kind of meet other countries and see what it’s like over there in different parts of the world.”
In addition to hockey, Willan also plays baseball for Team Canada and competes for her university in golf. Being a student-athlete is already demanding, but committing to three sports further requires her to balance her time wisely.
“You definitely have to prioritize your time, and you have to manage your time as best you can. And I try to do hockey during the hockey season, and baseball and golf kind of when it comes around in the summer.”
Willan only recently picked up golf again because it was the only sport she could play during the pandemic, and she fell in love with it.
Her involvement in multiple sports was influenced by her family.
“When I was younger, I was blessed with my parents putting me in a lot of summer camps. And so I kind of developed the fundamental skills. And by doing that, when I was younger, I kind of had these skills already. There’s this crossover benefit that I had.”
Choosing which sport she likes best is always difficult because she loves each sport differently and there are different elements that she can choose to apply in each of them.
“I feel like hockey is very much a team-oriented sport and baseball kind of has individual elements within the team sport. And golf is just purely individual.”
Her passion for athletics is evident, but so is her passion for academics.
“Ever since I was younger, I’ve kind of been passionate about learning about the Earth and its dynamics and what our future looks like in that area. And so it’s been really interesting learning about it.”
Even with that passion, there are times when things get tough.
“But for me it all comes back to ‘why’ and ‘why am I doing all this’. And that’s because I enjoy it. I enjoy everything that I do,” she said with a smile.
Willan also mentioned that without her supportive parents and coaches, none of this would be possible. All of her coaches in all three sports understand her situation and support her goals, which is to commit to all three sports at the highest level.
Prior to Saturday’s women’s hockey final, the proud Canadian said she hoped to try to take one step at a time, which has been Team Canada’s motto throughout the whole FISU Games tournament.
“Take the opportunity as it comes and try to make the most of it.”
And make the most of it she – along with her teammates – did.
Canada captured gold with a dominant 5-0 win over Japan, returning to the FISU World University Games podium for the first time since Trentino 2013.
Written By Diana Hong, FISU Young Reporter