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Since retiring from playing hockey in 2007, Cheryl Pounder has refashioned herself as a mainstay on the TSN hockey panel. Having covered the women’s hockey tournaments at the 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics for CBC, the two-time Olympic gold medalist finds herself an integral part of TSN’s coverage of everything from the NHL and the world juniors to the world championships and more. The 46-year-old is in Kamloops alongside former Calgary Flames general manager Craig Button to break down the action as part of the network’s coverage of the 2023 Memorial Cup.

Which living person do you most admire?

It’s going to be boring. My mom. My mom was my coach back when I played and that was something that wasn’t the norm. She grew up in a hockey family, she never actually played, but she was a hockey mind. She was able to coach me at a young age and instilled the passion within the family. And the courage she has had throughout her life, whether it’s through sport or overcoming breast cancer, always having this courage to take that next step, whatever it may be. Whenever I think of someone who I admire, I often think of my mom and she’s a huge supporter to this very day.

Do you have any favourite writers?

No, I like to journal myself. I just like to jot down my thoughts. I used to journal and write a few articles that I would reread to myself around perspective when I was heading into crunch time. So those things were part of my resource tool box, if you will, to try and garner and rein in my performance when I was under pressure.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

The greatest thing in my life is my family, my children. Outside of family, I would certainly say that the Olympic gold medal in 2002 was just a surreal moment that I don’t think that I could ever put into words and do it justice. For me, from a sporting experience, that would be my most memorable. And to be truthful, I’ve never even watched the game again because it’s perfect in my mind.

You’ve never thought about watching it with your children?

It’s so long ago and they weren’t around at the time and now I don’t know if I would go back and watch it to this very day. I think, as athletes or people who’ve really tried to push for excellence at whatever level, you always critique yourself whether it’s in a broadcast or when I was growing up watching video. In my mind, when I left that game we all played the perfect game. And I know that if I go back to it, I’m going to critique it, I’m going to find something and to me, there are some things that are better just left alone. So I’m going to live in that moment forever.

What is your favourite colour?

Green. My husband would love to say it’s because it’s Michigan State but that is not the case. Craig Button and him and I always go back and forth because [Button is] a University of Michigan Wolverines fan and my husband went to State, so I’m supposed to be cheering ‘Go Green,’ but it really is just because I love the colour.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I think there’s ebbs and flows to that because it’s moments in time. And for me, obviously, I think for any parent, it’s watching your children be happy. Being able to watch them be happy … just gives your heart so much fulfilment, to see them with happy eyes. And I know that sounds kind of weird, but I always say that when you see that there’s a smile in their eyes, I feel like there’s nothing better.

As someone who’s transitioned from playing to broadcasting, what words or phrases do you most overuse?

It used to be ‘absolutely.’ I know that without a doubt when I first started because I used to have to put a bull’s-eye with a big sheet of paper and an X through it. I used to write it in big marker and put it right above the monitor. So if there was a bit of a stutter between the transition it was because I was looking at it, saying, do not say, do not say, it is your crutch word. ‘Well, you know’ [is the other].

What is your favourite journey?

Well, it’s hard to not say playing because I think experiencing playing, I know that’s not travel. But man oh man playing in Halifax in 2004 [Canada won the women’s world championship] was something I’ll never forget and then being there for the world juniors working just over [this past] Christmas. We brought my children out because my father is from Halifax. So just getting to see the East Coast, yes, it wasn’t the summer but getting to travel, see where their Pops was from and then be part of the world junior experience, which was something that was entrenched in my house. Let me tell you, our Boxing Day parties, they are missed. Now that I’m working them, everyone is like, ‘Come on Pounder, you’ve got to continue with these Boxing Day parties.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, if I’m working it, I can’t.’ Halifax was just a breath of fresh air, the East Coast hospitality and in an area that I’d love to go back to with my kids. I would love to take a camper and just go from area to area.

What is it you most dislike?

Being disingenuous. I find that as I get older, I just appreciate authentic sort of candour more and more. As much as it may hurt I find that being authentic, and people around you being authentic – the relationships become so great when you can be yourself. I think it’s important. Within my own four walls of my home we know when your poop stinks, you know? And I think that’s the best part about authenticity. Trust me, if I’m not good on a broadcast, I’ll hear it from Spicy D – that’s my mom. There was no winning at cards with grandma when I was 9. It was like ‘You’ve got to beat me.’ I think in order to grow in anything, true ownership takes accountability and so you’re not always great.

What is your most treasured possession?

Probably my grandma’s scrapbooks. My grandma was a baseball player in the 1940s, and she was supposed to be in the [women’s baseball league that was the basis for the movie] A League of Their Own. She was a pitcher and she had a contract for Wrigley Field [which she said no to] and when she passed away, I was given her scrapbooks. In many ways, my grandma was the one that gave me the courage to believe in my dream, which was impossible at the time going to the Olympics and women’s hockey. And so I think beyond sport what it did [was to tell me to] have the courage to try. And so that’s always sort of been on my left shoulder. And it’s not about the sport, if that makes any sense, but the messaging around the articles and how things have changed over time because of the impact of her strength and then how it was passed down through words and actions.

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