Hall of Famer
Inducted in 2009
Gold Medal, World Championships
Re-naming of Flemingdon Park Arena to Angela James Arena
Induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame
Pioneers are made of tough stuff. No one knows this better than one of Canada's greatest female hockey players, Angela James. A world champion not only in women's ice hockey but also roller hockey, a brilliant goal scorer, and a role model honoured in the community in which she grew up with an arena bearing her name, she has even put behind perhaps her greatest disappointment, being left off the 1998 Canadian Women's Olympic Hockey team. "I have to admit it was difficult at the time, but looking back I have good memories of being with my teammates at the pre-Olympic camp. Sometimes things happen for a reason. If I'd been picked, something else that ultimately turned out to be good for me might not have happened," James, who retired from active competition in 2000, recalls. This philosophical maturity has served James well throughout her entire life. Born in 1964 and growing up in the Flemingdon Park neighbourhood near the Toronto intersection of Don Mills Road and Eglinton Avenue, she didn't let the challenges facing a young girl stop her from taking full advantage of her community's limited assets. One was the outdoor rinks in the Flemingdon courtyards, where by the age of six she was outmuscling boys for the puck. At eight she was playing in the local boy's house league. For Angela and other young women, the game was entering the mainstream by the 1970's, but that still meant limited ice access, far away playing locations, and odd starting times. Again Angela is philosophical. "It's what you're used to. Once a week opportunities for girl's hockey seemed fine at the time, and when it improved to twice, well that was a real bonus." By the age of 11 Angela was playing with young women in their late teens. The social aspect alone was eye-opening, but she handled it with remarkable aplomb. "The 1980s were a wonderful time. By 1982 I was playing for the Nationals in Wayne Gretzky's hometown of Brantford. In 1986 I had graduated from the Recreational Facilities Management program at Seneca College and was hired to work for the college. I've been there ever since [she's now a senior recreation co-ordinator] and they've been incredibly accommodating. They never once said I couldn't follow my hockey career, and even gave me a sabbatical so I could try out for the Olympic team." And what a career it's been - three time world all-star, member of multiple world championship teams, three scoring titles in the senior women's league, and more recently level 3 officiating status and Advanced II level hockey coach recognition. She has few peers. (William Humber is a colleague of Angela's at Seneca College where he is the director of environmental initiatives. His latest book on winter sports and climate change was released by Dundurn Press in 2009).