Natalie Spooner’s hockey story – from backyard rink to Olympic gold – is truly Canadian.
Her parents Peter and Ann-Marie immigrated from England and began looking for a typically-Canadian sport for their three sons to play as they readied for their first, very long winter in Ontario.
Hockey was the perfect fit.
And by the time Natalie came along there were plenty of hand-me-down sticks and skates and older brothers ready to test her skills, toughness and determination on their makeshift rink.
Following an NCAA career at Ohio State University, Natalie was drafted into the burgeoning CWHL in 2012 by her hometown team, the Toronto Furies, and refocused on her big goals – winning the CWHL's Clarkson Cup and capturing gold for Canada in Sochi 2014.
Her first breakthrough came in the semi-final against Switzerland when she scored twice, including the eventual game winner, in a 3-1 victory that sent Canada to the now-glorious-part-of-hockey-history final against the USA.
Returning home with an Olympic gold medal, Natalie laced up for the Toronto Furies and scored the only goal in the shootout to become the first woman to win both the CWHL's Clarkson Cup and the Olympics in the same year.
What could possibly be next?
The Amazing Race Canada came calling and Natalie joined teammate and two-time Olympic Champion Meaghan Mikkelson in a round-the-world adventure on the most-watched show of the summer in Canada.
At the 2015 IIHF World Championship, Natalie re-affirmed her status as Canada's most talented offensive player scoring a TSN-Highlight-of-the-Night goal in against Finland, leading the team in goals and points and taking home the honours for IIHF Best Forward.
As the leading vote-getter and face of the 2016 CWHL All-Star Game, Natalie was welcomed to Molson Canadian's rooftop rink in downtown Toronto to promote women's hockey and show off a couple dangles that would make even Wayne Gretzky proud.
In 2019, she traded in her hockey skates for figure skates to take on an unexpected challenge on the top-rated television show of the season on CBC's Battle of the Blades.
Natalie, and pairs partner Andrew Poje skated beautifully throughout the season, finishing second in the Finale with their spirited rendition of Canadian Girls.
As the emerging face and fan-friendly personality of women's hockey in Canada, Natalie ranked #6 on SportsNet's first-ever list of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Hockey in 2020 and again in 2021.
In 2020, Natalie joined the cast of the ratings-juggernaut Battle of the Blades for Season 6 as a judge making her the most prominent face of the women's hockey and a household name.
And, as Season 5's unforgettable runner-up, she knows the journey and exactly what the skaters feel the moment the music starts.
In Beijing 2022, she led a young core that reclaimed Olympic gold against Team USA in a competition that's become so fierce and fated that it's simply known as:
After an incredible tournament, with what many analysts have called the greatest women's hockey team ever assembled, Canada won gold 3-2 over the United States.
In the summer 2022, Natalie announced a new challenge in a perfectly-Canadian gender reveal video:
In a time when many female athletes are beginning to prioritize building a family alongside the advancement of their career, Natalie is creating a new and empowring story with the goal of coming back to play in the 2023 IIHF World Championships.
She did, with baby Rory in tow wearing oversized noise-cacelling headphones, even scoring the first goal of the tournament for Canada.
And, of course, like her role models Wickeneiser and Mikkelson, she'll be bringing her young son along for the ride to the Milan Cortina 2026 Olympic Games to experince The Rivalry.