Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Heaney working hard to bring through stars of future

Big moment: Geraldine Heaney (with A on her jersey) celebrates the goal that won the 2002 Olympic final against the USA

It was shortly after being informed of her Hall of Fame accolade that Geraldine Heaney received what was possibly an even bigger compliment.

Sitting around the dinner table at the family home in Ancaster, Ontario – which is 50 miles away from Toronto – there was a discussion about hockey.

It's a regular topic as Geraldine now coaches the team that her nine-year-old daughter Shannon plays in.

Five-year-old son Patrick is just starting out in the game, but it seems that he already knows what he is talking about.

"Shannon has potential. Skill-wise she is very good, but we have to remember she is only nine," said Geraldine.

"My husband John coaches our son.

"He will get better when he can skate better.

"When they are young and can't skate very well they fall over a lot – it's hard for them to enjoy themselves and improve.

"He came home a couple of weeks ago after having a really good practice and said 'I can play like mum now.'

"I'm not sure my husband took that too well because every father wants to be their son's hero, but it was a nice thing for me to hear." The family has had its tough times recently too. Just over a fortnight ago John's father died suddenly, just after Geraldine and Shannon had returned from a tournament, leaving them in turmoil.

"It's been a bit of a rollercoaster for us over the last number of months," said Geraldine.

"My sister-in-law passed away too and when I got inducted into the Hall of Fame I suppose it should have been a good time for our family.

"When you have kids they give you a lift.

"They were very excited in the build-up to Christmas, so that helped us get through the last couple of weeks." Geraldine, who says that she'll be involved in hockey 'til the day I die', has no long-term plans outside of bringing up her children and enjoying coaching.

However, her name has been regularly linked with becoming coach of the Canadian national team some time in the future.

She spends practically every night of the week at the local rink and can see a different mindset to when she was learning the game.

"Young players don't have the same drive because they get things too easily," she said.

"We had to work for everything and we took that effort into our matches.

"The skills are there, but I believe the hunger and desire just isn't the same now as it used to be."

You get the feeling that will change if Geraldine Heaney becomes the national coach.

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