Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sara Bauer: her choice not to play for Canada & her future plans

Quite a while back, I asked someone why Sara Bauer was never invited to Hockey Canada camps and never included on Canadian national teams. I was told that there were some politics involved, possibly due to her going the NCAA route rather than the CIS route.

Earlier this week I stumbled upon this article in the Niagara Falls Review: Choosing not to play for the national team. (And I now see that if I had began following BadgersWHockey earlier, I would've seen it sooner.)

It appears that there was a period of time during which Hockey Canada snubbed Sara Bauer, but they eventually came to their senses and invited her to a national camp in 2007, after which she told them she wasn't interested in trying out any more.

"Way back, I didn't get the chance, but they put the ball in my court a couple of times and I just decided it was something I didn't want to do."

"I'm sure a lot of people don't understand it and I don't expect them to. I know it's a great opportunity and I know a lot of people would wish they were in my position, but it's just something I didn't want to particularly do."

While she didn't give an explicit explanation, she did admit that she didn't enjoy her national experiences:

"It's a different kind of dynamic there. There's a lot of expectations and a lot of responsibility that you have to pay to that team."

Now, if you followed Bauer at all during her time at Wisconsin, you'll know that she's not the type to shirk from responsibility or expectations -- she sets high standards for herself and always wants to do the best she can, she's an extremely hard worker, she led Wisconsin to 2 national titles (with broken ribs for 1 of those, I believe), and she won the Patty Kaz in 2006 (and was a finalist in 2007).

So it appears that Bauer didn't have fun playing hockey at the national camps, potentially due to the dynamics of and politics involved, and that the fun aspect of the game is essential to her.

"But I love the game and I just want to be playing where I'm having the most fun."

"I always felt I did my best when I was enjoying something, when you're motivated to do something and you like being there and you want to learn."
And while it might be hard to see how a player could walk away from opportunities to play for Team Canada in international play and potentially the Olympics, it's also understandable that a player wouldn't want to pursue something that had lost the joy associated with playing hockey. And if Sara is comfortable with her decision, well then that's good enough for me. Furthermore, I admire the way she handled prior lack of inclusion in national camps (never any disgruntled comments) and the way in which she explained her decision (a simple acknowledgment that it was something she didn't want to do).

Bauer, who graduated with a 3.98 gpa and a degree in kinesiology, will be pursuing a teaching degree from Niagara University starting this Fall, and her future plans include teaching high school and coaching hockey. She also has started her own summer hockey camps in St. Catharines, ON. Last year, she played hockey for the CWHL's Burlington Barracudas.

I am quite sure that Bauer will be quite successful in her teaching and coaching endeavors.

Sara, thanks for being a Badger.