Mikkelson the mom returns
Mikkelson the mom returns
Canadian thrilled to be back with national team
Just over four months ago, Mikkelson was in the delivery room giving birth to her first son, Calder.
And last week, Mikkelson was on the ice in Etobicoke, Ontario with the best female hockey players in Canada. She was one of 32 players at the national women’s team training camp, one of the final steps towards the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship.
“With the delivery of a baby, all moms out there know that you can’t really have any expectations,” says Mikkelson. “So going into it, I was just hoping for a healthy labour and delivery. Once I had (Calder), I wanted to re-evaluate things and see where my body was. A couple of weeks after I had him, I was feeling really good. I talked to players like Becky Kellar and Cheryl Pounder (former national team members), who both had kids and they came back and played again. I knew it was possible so it was always in the back of my mind.
“Those few weeks after, I set the goal for myself to be playing at the beginning of January and be at camp this week.”
Mission accomplished. At least Step 1, that being last week’s camp.
Mikkelson started skating about six weeks after Calder was born. That was in mid-November and Mikkelson says she started slow those first few skates, not taking full strides and definitely not touching pucks.
As the process went on, she felt stronger and received full medical clearance to return to high-level hockey in late December. Mikkelson played her first game on 2nd January with the Canadian Women Hockey League’s Calgary Inferno.
In Etobicoke she was one of nine defencemen trying to impress Hockey Canada’s coaching staff and management, who will select the final roster for the Women’s Worlds that will be played on home ice in Kamloops, British Columbia, 28 March to 4 April.
And how is it going so far?
“I actually feel stronger physically. I feel stronger than I did before I had him and I feel like my endurance came back extremely quickly,” Mikkelson says. “They say that after having a baby... you can bounce back really quickly and be stronger and better than before. I’m really feeling that. I feel great out there. My recovery time is a lot quicker because I have a lot higher blood volume. I feel like I’m getting stronger and stronger every day.”
Mikkelson has a great team behind her as she tries to crack Team Canada for the world championships. That includes a great group of teammates on the ice and those back home who are helping with Calder.
Mikkelson says her husband Scott Reid (head coach of the Inferno) travels quite a bit for his career so both sets of parents help look after Calder, especially when Meaghan is away from home like she is this week.
“We have my parents come in for a couple of weeks and then leave and then his parents come in for a couple of weeks and leave,” says Mikkelson. “I rely heavily on my parents and my in-laws to help us out. I couldn’t be doing this without them. They know how badly I want to make this team. They’re so supportive and we’re really fortunate.”
If she does make Canada’s roster, Mikkelson will no doubt be one of the team leaders. She is a veteran of two OIympic Winter Games, helping Canada win gold in 2010 and 2014, and has played in five IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championships.
She was also the third-oldest player at Canada’s camp (or maybe the 30th youngest!), behind only Hayley Wickenheiser (37) and Charline Labonte (33).
Mikkelson laughs about being called a vet.
“I don’t feel like I’m 31. Labonte and I were talking in the dressing room how you come into the program and you’re one of the young ones and you never imagine that one day you’re going to be one of the old players,” she says. “And now I’m sitting next to a 16-year-old (Amy) Potomak in the dressing room and realizing that I’m almost twice her age. It’s kind of funny to think about.
“But all the girls are great. They’re very mature and we have a lot of fun. I hope that my experience, where I’ve been and what I’ve done, helps the group. That’s the goal in the end is to be the best team we can be and win.”
Regardless of what happens this week, Mikkelson will get to head home to Calgary and be with husband Scott and baby Calder. That can’t be beat.
“It’s been incredible,” says Mikkelson. “It really puts into perspective what’s important in your life. If I have a good day at the rink or a bad day at the rink, I come home to that little face and that little guy. It makes everything better.”
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