By Mark Staffieri
In between Brampton?۪s Big Three (Apps, Dupuis, Hefford) and their Next Three (Bendus, Bram, MacIntosh), there are many dependable veterans that solidify an energetic Brampton lineup. One such veteran is Tara French from Truro, Nova Scotia.
Having played in the CWHL since its inaugural season of 2007-08, French brings great experience and acumen to the black and red. Early in her career, French competed with the Mississauga Chiefs, which boasted the likes of Jennifer Botterill, Sami Jo Small and Sommer West.
Like many of her Brampton teammates, French has had the opportunity to compete for the Canadian Under-22 team. The first time she wore the Hockey Canada sweater was a treasured moment. The experience was truly exhilarating. It is an honour to be named to the Under 22 Team Canada Team.?
French won a gold medal at the 2006 Air Canada Cup in Ravensberg, Germany (known today as the Meco Nations Cup). Among her teammates on that squad included current CWHL stars Tessa Bonhomme, Meaghan Mikkelson, Jocelyne Larocque, Bobbi-Jo Slusar and Noemie Marin.
???It required so many hours of practice and training on and off the ice. To have all those components align in those moments and games by wearing the Hockey Canada sweater was nothing short of amazing. Plus, with all the pride, adrenaline and excitement, you have an endless source of energy!?
Prior to a career in the CWHL, French competed for some of the greatest women?۪s teams that Colgate University ever had. She would graduate from the Colgate Raiders as the all-time leading scorer among the program?۪s defenders with 72 points. ???Playing hockey at Colgate was a phenomenal endeavour from start to finish.?
???In my four years, we started with much potential and lots of room to develop, and everyone on the team was able to contribute along the way. We celebrated many new firsts for the program and worked to challenge ourselves by always looking to accomplish more.?
???By the time graduation rolled around, the team accomplishments were the biggest piece of the puzzle. On a side note — at graduation, everyone was quick to remind me that I was also the all-time leader for penalty minutes as well! Thankfully, that record was since broken.?
In the last several years, the women?۪s hockey talent from Atlantic Canada has improved. As the region has developed more stars, it is a great point of pride for French. ???It is wonderful to see all the young girls playing hockey in Atlantic Canada. There are many more leagues, levels and organizations that the talent will undoubtedly continue to grow.?
???With a great foundation, many girls that have developed will continue to develop into extremely talented players that compete at every level of women’s hockey. I always enjoy watching the local minor hockey Christmas tournament when I’m back in Nova Scotia for the holidays. Each year I’m more and more impressed!?
As a veteran in the CWHL, a particular moment stood out for French as a great one in her remarkable career. ???In 2008, as a member of the Mississauga Chiefs, we won the Esso Nationals in dramatic fashion; overtime against the Brampton Thunder in P.E.I. After playing so much hockey, so far away from home, it was great to be back in the Maritimes and to have my parents there for the week to watch each and every game.?
While a talent heavy Brampton squad has floundered in fourth place all season, anything is possible once the postseason begins. With a highly experienced group that features French bolstering the blueline, French is confident that a Clarkson Cup is possible.
???To win any championship requires hard work and dedication – both of which we are fully prepared to invest. We have an intense schedule leading up to the Clarkson Cup that will be a great preparation tool as we continue to stay focused on the doing the small things consistently that win hockey games.?