The Thompson High Performance Program is a six-week off-season program in Ottawa tailored to female athletes wanting to get more from their hockey experience. The program was started by Sarah Thompson, an NCAA DI student-athlete at Syracuse University from Ottawa. The Thompson HP Program was selected as our August 2023 Featured Group and we had a chance to interview Sarah when she invited us to check out one of the sessions!

What was important to you when developing a program for young girls transitioning from competitive to elite hockey?

It was important to me that the girls had access to all the resources and information they needed to achieve their goals! I also wanted to give them the opportunity to learn from female athletes that have achieved some of the goals they’re striving for.

What advice would you give to your younger self when preparing to be an elite hockey player?

I would tell my younger self to have confidence in myself and the work I put in. I would remind myself to focus on the process and not on the outcome.

What aspects of elite hockey were intimidating to you and what inspired you to keep pushing through any challenges you faced?

A lot of the recruiting process is unknown to many young female athletes and it can be very overwhelming to navigate at a young age. I was connected with a lot of great mentors that helped me stay focused and work through any stress and anxiety.

Now that you are a role model for young girls aspiring to play elite hockey, what advice would you give them to stay focused and dedicated to their training? Are there crucial attributes that separate elite hockey players from the rest?

I would tell them that hard work truly does pay off and that your commitment to training will only increase your chances of achieving your goals. Though, I think it’s important to stay positive and play to have fun – find your balance that makes you happiest. 

We were lucky to watch your presentation on media training prior to taking the girls on the ice. Was there any personal experience that led you to know how important media training was for young girls?

I’ve had the opportunity to do plenty of interviews at Syracuse and in Ottawa for hockey-related events and community initiatives. I think that media can be very intimidating for many young athletes, though it can be such a great resource to share your story! As an athlete working with the media, I’ve gotten to share other aspects of myself that are important to me. I’ve gotten to share my passion for volunteering and teaching hockey by participating in interviews to talk about Sticks Together.

Have you received any feedback from your players about the program?

I asked many of the girls questions about the program in our “Media Training.” They seemed to love playing with other AA players from different associations and learning from NCAA women’s hockey players the most. The informational meetings where we talk about any and all topics to help them achieve their goals was also a favorite part of the program for many girls!

What are some of the key differences between minor and elite hockey that these young girls should be aware of?

Elite hockey players commit to their goals by striving for success in all areas of their lives. Elite athletes do not just decide to perform on game day, it takes hard work in the classroom, the kitchen, in the gym, and on the ice.

How long has the program run and will you be running it next year?

The program runs six weeks total, meeting once a week for a skate and informational meeting. I’ve absolutely adored working with these athletes and certainly plan to run it again next year. 

How can camps like these encourage girls to recognize their ability to move onto the next level?

Practicing and competing against many of the best players in the city gives them an opportunity to gauge where they’re at and what they need to do to get to the next level. Giving them the resources they need and guiding them through the recruiting process for college and Team Canada helps them recognize the steps they need to take to get there.

Do you see more players with aspirations to go to the next level?

I believe that every year the women’s game is getting better and better. These young girls impress me every week with their skill and ambition. Their commitment to their goals is incredible and I know that I will see many of them at the highest stage in a few years!