‘Twas a few days before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
Hockey gear was drying slowly on the floor;
When a surprise package from Meghan Agosta arrived at the door.
Right before the Christmas of 2017, my teammate Bonnie had her house broken into in Vancouver. The thief/thieves stole all the presents from under the tree and various other valuables from the house. They also took Bonnie’s most prized possession at that time: a Team Canada jersey signed by the entire 2010 women’s Olympic gold medal team. Bonnie had won that jersey just a few days earlier during a silent auction at a Vancouver Canucks charity event benefitting the Special Olympics. I remember her texting me when she got home and sending me pictures of the jersey. She was ecstatic! We assumed that the thieves thought the jersey was an autographed men’s Olympic team jersey that they could re-sell because, let’s face it, there isn’t a huge market for women’s Canadian Olympic team merchandise, and presumably even less on the black market. On the other hand, if they knew exactly what they were stealing, then they are spiteful SOBs knowing the sentimental value attached to such an item.
My hockey team, the Hatchicks (🎩🐣), came together as we have done before in goods times and in bad, to help offset some of the Christmas losses. We replaced a couple of things and bought gift cards to help with Christmas gifts, but the one thing we really wanted to do for Bonnie was get that jersey back. I tried reaching out to a couple of my hockey contacts to see if there was anything they could do for her but the leads went cold. In early February, I sent a tweet to Meghan Agosta on a whim thinking she’s in Vancouver, she’s a member of the women’s national team and a member of the Vancouver Police Department, maybe we’ll find a sympathetic ear. To my utter surprise, she tweeted back pretty quickly saying that she would love to help. All I had to do was send her a jersey via Hockey Canada with a little note. The Hatchicks had some money saved for a jersey on the off chance that we could pull off this miracle. So, off I went to Sportchek for a jersey and I mailed that thing to Hockey Canada in Calgary. Meghan went off to Pyeongchang a few days later and I never heard from her again.
I wanted to know if Meghan received the jersey so I emailed Hockey Canada but no one got back to me. I tweeted Meghan a couple of times but heard nothing. The summer of 2018 was the first time the Hatchicks attended the Ouellette-Poulin Adult camp in Montreal. Caroline Ouellette had emailed me asking a couple of questions about our group so I took the opportunity to tell Caro about this jersey debacle and asked if she wouldn’t mind asking Meghan if she had received the jersey. At that point, we just wanted to know if she had received it or if it was lost in the mail somewhere. Caro kindly reached out to Meghan and let me know that yes, she had the jersey and she was planning to get the team to sign it at the September Fall Festival in Dawson Creek. Awesome! Operation Jersey Replacement was underway.
The only problem was the September camp rolled around and Meghan Agosta wasn’t on that roster. We would later find out it was because she was pregnant with her first child.
As happy as we were were for the news of the pregnancy, we also knew that once the baby arrived Meghan would have much more important things on her plate than getting our jersey signed. I sent her one more tweet to try and figure out what her plans were for the jersey. No response. Then, she had her baby, Chance, six weeks premature in November 2018. Our team figured that was the end of Operation Jersey Replacement. We pictured the jersey somewhere in Meghan’s house under a stack of diapers and baby toys. One day she would find it in her house and wonder, “Where did this come from?” I didn’t want to bother her anymore since she was a new mother and we couldn’t call the police about a “missing” jersey because it wasn’t actually missing and, well, she is one of the police! The Hatchicks were resigned to the fact that we had tried valiantly but couldn’t replace the jersey for Bonnie. All this time, we hadn’t told Bonnie about what Meghan had said she would do because we wanted it to be a surprise. By the spring/summer of 2019, I told Bonnie about our efforts so that at least she knew Meghan had offered to help and that the team had bought her a jersey. The ironic thing was that we ended up meeting a number of players from the 2010 team over the next 23 months. In hindsight, had we kept the jersey ourselves, we could have gotten a decent number of the autographs for Bonnie one-at-a-time; thus, each encounter felt like an opportunity missed because we didn’t have the jersey.
Fast forward to December 22nd, 2019 when I returned home late in the evening from a trip to find a package addressed to me with the return address from a Meghan. My first thought was, “I don’t know any Meghans who would be mailing me anything.” I looked closer at the sender information and realized it was actually the only Meghan who would be mailing me anything! I opened the bubble-wrapped envelope to find the jersey that we sent almost 2 years ago signed by every member of the 2019 women’s national team from the Rivalry Series. “Oh my god! Oh my god!” were the only words I could express. It ’twas something of a Christmas miracle!
I have never really believed in Santa Claus. Even as a child I was skeptical about the logistics of how everything worked, fitting in the chimneys, and the impossible over-consumption of cookies etc. But who needs Santa when you have Meghan Agosta to believe in, along with all the other women who lead and push women’s hockey to be the best sport that it can be. We had lost faith and we should have known better. On this platform, I have written about a few of the times that the best women in the game have amazed me; there are countless other stories that will never make it to these pages. I try desperately to put into words what cannot actually be articulated because there is no arrangement of words that accurately expresses the gratitude, joy, and hope created by these athletes. On most days, the world of hockey does not deserve these women. They do more for the sport than most Canadians will ever truly fathom — that is the part that hurts the most.
This is a Thank You letter to Meghan Agosta and her “elves” on the national team from our entire Hatchicks team. It was a small gesture on your part but it means the world to us and is another moment that has helped bring our team closer together. The story that you have given us is worth far more than the jersey itself. Perhaps, more importantly though, I write this so that the world knows what kind of women we have failed to support day-in and day-out in this, supposedly, hockey-mad nation of ours. We do not deserve them, but they certainly deserve better than having no professional league to aspire to in Canada and the smattering of fans who show up in between Olympic cycles. The best women in the world of hockey do not know how to fail. Only once the rest of society and its financial decision-makers feel this truth the way we fans do, will we be able to repay some of the debt we owe them by way of professional opportunities that provide them with the respect, salaries, and resources that they have more than earned.
Make sure to catch Meghan Agosta and her teammates in action for the remaining three games of the Rivalry Series:
- February 3rd – Victoria, British Columbia
- February 5th – Vancouver, British Columbia
- February 8th – Anaheim, California
The Hatchicks already have their tickets for the Vancouver date. You can bet that the cheers will be just a little bit louder when the girls take the ice this time around. #ThankYouMeghan