Grace to Play

Accountability Courage Resilience


Key Point: We are all given the grace to PLAY. Why sit on the sidelines? Today, I had the privilege of interviewing Hayley Wickenheiser, one of Canada’s greatest athletes. For our American, European and Asian readers, Hayley is Canada’s female version of Michael Jordan, Lionel Messi, you get the idea. Awarded the Order of Canada, she is a five time Olympic medal winner, including four golds. The QMI Agency named Hayley among the top 10 “Greatest Female Athletes in the History of Sports.” She is Sports Illustrated number 20 of 25 Toughest Athletes in the World, a two-time finalist for the Women’s Sports Foundation Team Athlete of the Year, twice named among the Globe and Mail’s “Power 50” influencers. 

During the interview I asked Hayley to talk about her affection for Grace Bowen, a child she met and described in her blog as, “The greatest player I ever knew.” Hayley knew Grace as a fiery 9-year-old who enjoyed nothing more than playing Hockey. One unique thing about Grace was that she had no lower right leg. Doctors had amputated it in order to take a tumor out. The form of Cancer is called Osteosarcoma. As Hayley notes in her blog, “The thing with Grace is that she had a choice of how she wanted doctors to remove her leg. She chose a rotationplasty, a procedure that would allow doctors to take her foot and turn it backwards and use it as a knee joint. She did this so that she could PLAY HOCKEY again someday. It moved me like nothing else to see her with this new leg.” 

Sadly, the story about Grace ends far too early. The cancer consumed Grace and she left this world without the chance to play again. Eventually, Grace’s parents had to tell her that she was going to die. Her response was, “Please give me more chemo… Anything, daddy… I just want to play.”

Character Moves: 

  1. Are you in the game today? Are you playing hard? Are you bringing it? If there is a grain of any decency to come from the painful passing of Grace Bowen, it’s the reminder to JUST PLAY. And as Hayley reflected during our conversation, “These days I care most about the way I play… That I give it my all, and do my very best. That’s more important than the final score.” There is no score if we don’t play!
  1. Ideally each of us will experience the joyous battle between second place and us. However, we can’t even be in that zone unless we play first. Then it’s about digging in, and pushing past our comfort zone.
  1. All of us will be “Grace.” One day we won’t be able to PLAY even if we want to. Hopefully we will say, “I played. I brought it and left it ALL on the field.” All in! 

GRACE in the Triangle, 


One Millennial View: It’s amazing how we have to remind ourselves to “just play,” but there certainly don’t seem to be enough Hayley or Grace mentalities around anymore. It’s simply overlooked, but there’s a hard truth to the “you can’t win if you don’t play” phrase. Too often, we’re comfortable sitting on the sidelines (read: or our couches) as long as we’re just “on the roster.” People that don’t update their resume don’t get new jobs, people that don’t scratch lotto tickets never hit the jackpot, and people that Netflix every night never meet anyone new. Life is about getting in the game, and we all should keep that in mind more often.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis