SASKATOON â€” The University of Saskatchewan is bestowing an honorary degree on hockey star Hayley Wickenheiser.
She will be made a Doctor of Laws during spring convocation ceremonies on June 8.
The 38-year-old grew up in Shaunavon, southwest of Swift Current, Sask., playing minor hockey on outdoor rinks with boysâ€™ teams before moving to Calgary with her family.
She made her international hockey debut at the age of 15 and went on to play 23 seasons with the national team, retiring in January as a five-time Olympic medallist.
That includes four straight gold medals from 2002 to 2014.
Wickenheiser is the all-time scoring leader with 168 goals and 379 points in 276 career games for Canada.
â€œIt is really special, especially coming from the U of S,â€ Wickenheiser said in a news release Monday. â€œMy heart is, and always will be, in Saskatchewan. That is where my life was really shaped.â€
â€œHayley Wickenheiser has been the face of womenâ€™s hockey for decades and a remarkable role model for young players from coast to coast,â€ U of S president Peter Stoicheff said in a news release Monday.
â€œHayley has been a passionate advocate for youth in all sports, working with a wide variety of charities and community programs as well as fundraising for girls who couldnâ€™t otherwise afford to play hockey.â€
Wickenheiser was a member of Team Canada when womenâ€™s hockey was introduced as a medal sport at her first Winter Olympics in 1998 and served as the countryâ€™s flag bearer at her final Olympic Games in 2014.
Her work as a mentor for female hockey players helped develop the game dramatically across the country. Since her first year on the national team, the number of female hockey players in Canada has grown from 16,000 in 1994 to 87,000 in 2017.
â€œShe leaves a legacy unmatched in the game and has inspired a generation of future Olympians,â€ Stoicheff said.
CKOM, The Canadian Press