David Moll, Dinos Athletics
Oct. 28, 2022
Joan Snyder’s legacy donation a game-changer for women’s hockey
Canadians from coast to coast have been feeling the impact of Joan Snyder’s incredibly generous efforts for more than two decades. And, while medicine was one passion of Snyder’s, women’s sport and women’s hockey was another.
Snyder’s mother, Phoebe, played hockey in the 1920s and pursued it throughout the Great Depression. It was her mother’s spirit that inspired Snyder, Hon. LLD’11, CM, to work with the University of Calgary to donate $500,000 in 2011. Snyder, who passed away earlier this year, created the university’s Joan Snyder Program of Excellence in Women’s Hockey Fund, the first of its kind in Canada for the benefit of the Dinos Women’s Hockey Team.
“The leadership of [head coach] Danielle Goyette and the excellent team-building that has resulted is what really attracted me to the Dinos women's hockey program,” said Snyder at the time of the donation.
“It is my hope that this gift will enable the program to retain and attract top coaching talent, assist in boosting the team to national excellence and inspire young girls to take up hockey — which players like Hayley Wickenheiser are already doing.”
Snyder also supported research in the Faculty of Kinesiology investigating ways to prevent injuries in female athletes, and helped launch the Hayley Wickenheiser Award Endowment as a scholarship for varsity women’s athletes.
And now, a new, $2-million donation to the Joan Snyder Program of Excellence in Women’s Hockey Fund will support coaching excellence, elite competition and scholarships to student athletes to help our Dinos teams continue to excel. UCalgary will be able to provide improved resources such as sport psychology and mental health, leadership training, and strength and conditioning training.
Enhancing sport science initiatives
Carla MacLeod, the current Dinos head coach of hockey, is well aware of what kind of advantage this gives her team in their drive to become a premiere women’s varsity sport program in Canada.
“Joan’s support will allow us to continually evaluate what our student-athletes need to be at their best,” says MacLeod. “Because one of our main objectives is to make sure that their time within our program is one they will cherish forever and look back fondly on.”
And, while wins and losses are valuable, MacLeod knows she and her current and future teams can continue to honour Snyder even when there is no puck involved.
“I think the most important part is her legacy and honouring the Joan Snyder Program of Excellence,” says MacLeod. “Excellence is how she treated people and helped our community and that’s what we are going to honour and make sure we do moving forward.”
The sheer number of lives touched by Snyder’s philanthropic efforts is difficult to calculate. Instead, Goyette believes there is a simple way to sum up the legacy of this incredible woman.
“She wanted to make this world a better place,” says the former Dinos coach. “And she accomplished it.”
Joan believed in women's sports
Snyder was spot-on to put her faith in Goyette and the rest of the Dinos program, as just one year after the initial donation was made in 2011, the team brought home the first national championship in the program’s history.
Led by Wickenheiser, Calgary defeated the Montreal Carabins 5-1 in 2012 becoming, at the time, only the sixth women’s program to bring home the title.
Calgary would go on to the most successful two-season run in the program’s history over the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons. With an incredible 65-14 record over the two campaigns, the Dinos brought home one national championship, one national championship silver medal, one Canada West championship and multiple individual accolades.
Snyder’s initial donation allowed the program to enhance four key pillars: coaching excellence, elite competition, sport services and scholarships to student-athletes. Goyette is convinced that the support in these areas had a massive impact on her team’s on-ice performance. “Joan brought another perspective to our program,” says Goyette. “With her support, we were able to have more time to build the team, and we were able to take exhibition trips to both Toronto and Ottawa to play out-of-conference games, which was really an eye-opener.”
Goyette was also able to hire a full-time assistant coach, and had more operating funds for equipment, sports medicine, academic advising and community outreach.
The donation clearly had a direct impact on the ice, but Goyette knows that Snyder’s support also influenced both herself and her teams.
“She had a big impact on me as a coach,” says the former Olympian, who medalled in 1998, 2002 and 2006. “When I started to coach, it was about the wins and losses. But, the more I talked to [Snyder], the more I changed my philosophy. It became more about giving an opportunity to young girls to be able to use hockey to learn the skills of what it takes to be successful in life.
“That was always how she approached things. How can we do things better? How can we help girls gain confidence in the things they do and use these skills to become better leaders down the road?”
Courtesy Estate of Joan Snyder
Lifelong booster of women's hockey
Wickenheiser, one of the greatest leaders in Canadian sport, knows how important Snyder was, not only to the UCalgary program, but also to women’s hockey as a whole.
“Joan was a true believer in women's hockey and female sports. She not only supported the Women’s National team, Wickfest and Dinos women's hockey financially, she was a huge cheerleader,” says Wickenheiser, BKin’13, MSc’16, Hon. LLD’18, MD’21.
“We all loved to see Joan around the rinks, and we are all forever grateful for the enormous impact and legacy she has left for future players to come.”
Snyder’s newest donation to the Dinos will ensure that every player will have the best opportunity to succeed, both on and off the ice.
Learn more about Joan Snyder’s compassion for the community and her dedication to helping people.