As the former goalie for the Canadian Women’s National Hockey Team, Sami Jo Small is a five-time World Champion and three-time Olympian, who played on two gold-medal-winning teams. For three decades now, she has led teams to success through adversity both as an athlete and in management roles. Small draws on her personal experience, sharing exceptional tales of perseverance and drive, to help audiences build cohesive teams capable of taking on the world.
Small grew up on the outdoor hockey rinks of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Her passion for the game was honed in the boys’ minor hockey system, where she dreamt of someday playing in the NHL and at the Olympic Games. She accepted a scholarship to Stanford University for track and field before injury returned her to the game of her childhood. She played on the Stanford Men’s hockey team, garnering PAC-10 MVP honours while earning her degree in mechanical engineering.
In 1997, Small joined the Canadian Women’s National Hockey Team, where her Olympic dreams became reality. But, after a lifetime of training for the “big game”, Small never got to play in it. “Not playing in the final game in Salt Lake forced me to focus on the accomplishment of the team above my own feelings,” she said. Small became a force of positivity in the dressing room, on the bench, and on the ice, and in doing so helped her team become champions. She was twice-named Championship MVP.
Small was one of the founders of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League and worked as the general manager of the Toronto Furies until it discontinued operations in 2019. Today, she is a Certified Speaking Professional; the president of the Toronto Six, a women’s professional hockey team; and the owner of a hockey school that has run for more than 25 years.
Small is also the author of her memoir, The Role I Played, and a sports analyst who has worked for TSN and Sportsnet. She also provided colour commentary and play-by-play for the men’s and women’s hockey tournament at the Beijing Olympics.