Photo by Hockey Canada

Goulden suiting up for gold in PyeongChang

By Jessica Pincente

The 2018 Winter Olympics are just a few days away, and one of Ryerson’s very own will be partaking on her own Olympic journey in representing Canada some 10,574 km away from campus.

Alana Goulden, Ryerson’s equipment coordinator, will be helping Team Canada suit up for competition this year in South Korea, working as an equipment manager for the women’s hockey team.  The full-timer at Ryerson has been on leave since July 2017, taking time off to dedicate herself to Hockey Canada in preparation for the 2018 Winter Games.

Goulden’s passion for hockey can be traced back to her childhood where she played organized hockey in her hometown of Aurora. Goulden attended York University from 2000-2005, taking to the ice on the Varsity women’s team and earning the captaincy in her final year.

After graduating, Goulden began to look for a way to stay involved in the game after her five years of U SPORTS eligibility had been played out.

She found a way.

Goulden began to work on the equipment side of the sport soon after - her first camp with the Canadian national women’s team was in 2009.  She has been working with the team ever since, working top-level events such as the U-22 World Championships, the 4 Nations Cup, and the IIHF World Championships.

Goulden was brought on full-time as an equipment coordinator with Ryerson University in 2012.  

Her Olympic journey began in the summer of 2017 when Goulden moved to Calgary in preparation for hockey’s biggest tournament.  PyeongChang will be her first Olympic Games.

“Officially, our preparation for the Olympics this year started in July,” says Goulden. “We’ve been preparing specifically for this event ever since then. From an equipment perspective, as soon as the players came in, we met with them. We ask them what they need in terms of equipment - we’re ordering sticks for them, we’re ordering skates for them, we’re tweaking things with their sticks. We make sure that they have what they need to perform on the ice.”  

As one of two equipment managers for Team Canada, Goulden finds herself at the rink for the majority of her workday.  Her role with the team has grown into a force of habit for her, and as she says, herself and her team will be doing their best to ensure the players are comfortable in their gear.

“As equipment managers, we are trying to get our routine set to make sure the players have everything they need at every rink we go to,” Goulden remarks. “That is our goal from the equipment side - to make sure we have our routines down, to be consistent for the players and make sure they always have what they need to play their best.”

The Olympics are a special event.  The best of the best find themselves competing on an international scale. Representing your country on the world stage is certainly a memorable experience, and at her first Olympic Games, Goulden is excited to be in the midst of it all.

“I think the Olympics as a whole are a pretty amazing thing to be a part of,” she says. “To be in the village, see all the other countries, all the other sports that are happening, it’s special. Obviously, being a part of this team, it’s going to be neat to be a part of the big Games.”

Goulden’s role with Team Canada varies from her role with the Rams.  In PyeongChang, all of her energy will be devoted to ensuring the players’ equipment is sorted and functional. Her focus lies entirely on one team - one goal. In comparison, at Ryerson, Goulden’s scope is much wider - she tackles a variety of tasks, working with several varsity teams and students to ensure everything is in order.

Goulden cites former Ryerson associate athletics director, Stephanie White, as a mentor for her during her time at Ryerson, saying that White played a large role in her professional development.  

In her five years with the Rams, Goulden says her experiences with the athletics department have been positively impactful on her career.  

“My whole experience at Ryerson in athletics has shown me everything is very well-run and professional,” expresses Goulden. “They take such pride in the student-athlete experience. Having been a student-athlete myself, I recognize how much sport and athletics adds to your experience, whether it’s varsity or recreation.

“It’s been really nice to work at a university where athletics is such an important thing [...] Everyone in the athletics department feels needed and wanted - that we contribute to the athlete’s experience in university.”

Looking ahead in her career, Goulden said she isn’t sure what the future holds for her. Her main focus in the coming weeks is tackling the task at hand with Team Canada, but she is certainly anticipating her return to Ryerson at the conclusion of the Olympics.

“At this point, I’m definitely just focusing on the next few weeks here,” notes Goulden. “I’m looking forward to getting back to Ryerson, starting up in May and getting back into the groove there after being away for a year. That’s kind of my immediate focus right now and we’ll see what comes after that for me.”

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