February 8, 2006
'This is a dream come true'
Pride fuels Goyette's duty as flag-bearer
BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

TURIN, Italy -- Danielle Goyette can't wait for the moment.

Thoughts of carrying the Canadian flag into the Olympic Stadium to kick off Turin 2006 almost makes her heart miss a beat.

"I am so excited," Goyette said. "I hadn't really thought about it until I got here and people started asking me questions about it.

"This is going to be a lot of fun."

And one of the top players on the Canadian women's hockey team should be thrilled. The 40-year-old forward is what the Olympic spirit is all about -- a hard-working amateur athlete who has had to earn her way onto the international stage with every stride.

Goyette also doesn't mind playing second fiddle as Canada's flag-bearer at the opening ceremonies. She is well aware candidates such as bobsledder Pierre Lueders, speed skater Cindy Klassen and cross-country skier Beckie Scott didn't put their names forward for the duty because they were concerned about what went along with the commitment.

No, this isn't just about walking into a stadium with the flag held high. It's about pride and wanting to do the job.

On that point, nobody could have stopped Goyette from accepting the selection when Canadian Olympic Committee officials called her to see what her level of interest was in the honour.

"I didn't have to think about it. I just said 'Yes' right away. I didn't think about it twice," Goyette recalled. "This is something that I couldn't turn down.

"This is a dream come true for me."

Not only has Goyette become known on the international stage for her commitment to hockey, she's also given back to the community through a project with her employer, Home Depot.

In Calgary, where she lives and trains, Goyette has been involved with the Habitat for Humanity program by helping to build homes for the less fortunate. The project is near and dear to her heart.

"That's something that I really enjoy. Helping to build the homes was something that meant a lot to me," said Goyette, a St-Nazaire, Que., native, who also likes to work on women's causes.

NO EXCUSES

Her pride is a big reason why she didn't view the request to carry the flag as a sacrifice. If Goyette plays poorly in Canada's opening game against Italy on Saturday, she won't blame it on her opening ceremony duties. She doesn't make excuses.

"I can understand the other athletes not wanting to do it and I don't blame them one bit," she said. "My sport is different. We're not talking about me training for four years for 40 seconds to decide whether I'm going to win gold or not.

"I am in a lot different situation than a lot of those people. We play for 2 1/2 hours and I have a lot of 30-40 second shifts. If I don't get something done in those 30-40 seconds, I'm going to get another chance. That's not the case for these other athletes. They only get one chance."

The Canadians will officially raise the flag at the athletes' village tonight, then Goyette will begin the countdown towards her big night on the international stage.

So, has she been practising?

"I get lots of practice because I use a stick all the time," Goyette said with a smile.

This will be a golden moment in her hockey career.

AT A GLANCE

- Who: Danielle Goyette, 40, St-Nazaire, Que.

- Sport: Forward on Canada's women's hockey team.

- Notable: Goyette will be going after her 22nd international medal as a member of the women's team (17 gold, four silver).

- The skinny: Goyette has been a consistent goal-scorer during her 14 years on the national squad with more than 100 career goals.