Meghan Agosta-Marciano: Fuelled by passion
2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship
When & where: April 2-9, Scotiabank Place and Nepean Sportsplex
Meghan Agosta-Marciano stretches out on the floor of Ottawa’s Westin Hotel, posing for a shoot as the photographer’s camera goes click-click-click.
She’s pressed for time — as arguably one of the best female hockey players in Canada, she’s been in town for a five-day training camp ahead of the 2013 IIHF Women’s World Championship being held in Ottawa in April — but she still manages to squeeze in a few comments.
“Go on,” she instructs, then stops to pose. “Google him now.” Another pause. “Marco’s really handsome.” She smiles and cocks her head. “You’ll see.”
There are times — like right now — when it’s hard to tell what excites the 26-year-old forward and multiple Olympic gold medallist more: Canadian women’s hockey or Marco, her husband of four months.
No doubt they’re both huge passions. A hockey player since she pestered her father, Nino, into letting her switch from figure skating at age six, the sport has come to dominate Agosta-Marciano’s life since.
The first whispers of her preternatural skill on ice came well before the Leamington, Ont., native became a public face, but was revealed at the 2003 Canada Winter Games, when she scored the winning goal for Team Ontario. By 2004, she had moved to Calgary after she was called up to the national team. Then, at the 2006 Olympics in Turin — on her 19th birthday, no less — she scored a hat trick against the Russians and became the youngest member of Canada’s gold medal team. Four years later, in Vancouver, she scored a third Olympic hat trick in the game against Sweden and helped lead Canada to another gold medal win. She was named tournament MVP — but that’s not all that happened.
At the Vancouver Games, Agosta-Marciano had a delicious secret: she was in love. But not just with anyone. When the team was “centralized” to train together in Calgary for eight months in 2009, she fell for Marciano, then goalie coach for Team Canada and five years her senior. If not exactly verboten, a love affair between a player and a coach was certainly unheard of.
“Nobody would ever think that a player would date someone from the coaching staff,” she says, smiling. “You can’t help who you fall in love with. But all the same, we wanted to keep it professional. And besides, people wouldn’t believe us.”
Flying under the radar, they stayed in touch via Facebook and “texted each other constantly,” she says, while hiding their feelings from others — sometimes in stairwells.
At the Vancouver Games, for example, when Agosta-Marciano celebrated her birthday, her then-secret boyfriend wanted to give her a gift. They met in a stairwell, but were nearly caught by a teammate.
“She was like, ‘Meghan? Marco?’ We just said, ‘Oh, Marco had to give me something’ and we sort of blew it off. A few teammates suspected, but we played it safe. It was amazing to keep it a secret … it was so exciting.”
Equally fun was the moment when she shared her news. “We announced the news to teammates on the ice and they all said, ‘What? Are you kidding?’ and I said, ‘I would never lie about dating Marco, he’s a really good-looking guy.’ ”
As of Sept. 1, 2012, that “really good-looking guy” — now goalie coach for the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, a Montreal area junior team in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League — became Agosta-Marciano’s husband, as well as her No. 1 fan. Together, they have built a house in Boisbriand.
“I’m so lucky he’s so supportive and we understand each other’s lives. If I get centralized, he’ll support me, even though I’ll be across the country for eight months. He’s so passionate about hockey and so determined to help goalies reach their dreams. He’s helped many get to the NHL. And at the end of the day, that’s what we both strive for — to give back.”
Indeed, it’s something of a theme for Agosta-Marciano, who peppers her talk with references to mentoring younger teammates (“I’ve played at this level since 2005, I had to grow up pretty fast. I try to lead by example and push the person beside me to be their best”), as well as her own philanthropy.
Although just 26, she’s already opened Agosta’s High Performance Hockey Academy in Windsor, Ont., with help from her husband. “It was nothing but a success,” she remarks. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. If I could teach somebody something and help them fulfil their goals, that is what it’s all about.”
She’s also started the Meghan Agosta Foundation, which aims to “give a child a chance to play the game they love. It’s not cheap, so I understand what it takes. It’s all about putting back and giving kids the opportunity to do what I did.”