A golden role model

JODY VANCE -- 24 Hours Toronto

, Last Updated: 7:51 AM ET

Without a doubt, Cassie Campbell, the now former captain of the Canadian Women's National Hockey Team is the epitome of "role model" for young girls.

Accessible and accommodating, she embodies qualities unheard of in this day of "what's in it for me?"

About five years ago, I met Cassie briefly when she began doing on-air work with the NHL Network.

We chatted about the ins and outs of TV and exchanged e-mail addresses to stay in touch (It's a small broadcast world).

Never one for autographs, I broke a major rule of mine when I contacted Cassie about a year or so later, prior to Christmas, to see if I might be able to fulfill my young cousin's dream of owning an autograph from her hockey idol.

That cousin, at the time, was a nine-year-old hockey dynamo named Shannon.

She can recite the stats of the entire Canadian Women's team without thinking and practices and plays more hockey in Peterborough than some members of the Petes.

Cassie, of course, is a very busy in-demand young superstar and yet she not only replied immediately to my e-mail, but before I could put pen to paper to write the cheque to her favourite charity, the authentic Team Canada sweater was on my doorstep.

Breaking my "no autograph rule" was so worth it when Shannon opened that gift Christmas morning.

Her mom cried, her dad wanted to frame it, but Shannon threw it over her head and wore it the entire day.

When I sent off the thank you to Cassie and told her of the "sheer joy of holding something once touched by her hero", she basically replied, "Aw shucks."

Ms. Campbell didn't have to take the time, but the fact that she did makes this story worthy of sharing with you today. This young woman knows the power of her game and "gets" the fact that kids worship her and her gold-medal winning teammates.

Every now and then in this crazy business, you meet truly special, authentic people -- Cassie Campbell is definitely one of them.

Not only a great player and a fantastic person, she is the ultimate role model for women of all ages.

Oh so "au naturelle", Cassie Campbell is proof you don't need to be super skinny and apply make-up with a spatula to be incredibly beautiful.

Jody Vance is a Leafs TV broadcaster. Her columns appear Tuesdays and Thursdays in 24 hours.


Photos