Defenceman Gracie Graham returns to where she first laced up her skates.

On March 14, Merritt Minor Hockey hosted a meet and greet with Gracie Graham at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. The meet and greet in the locker room was followed by some ice time with the players.

Her visit to Merritt reflects her deep-rooted commitment to giving back to the community that nurtured her passion for hockey.

“It’s really cool for me just to come back here,” she added. “I grew up playing hockey here, it’s where my hockey career started. So just being able to come back and give back to the community that gave me a beginning it’s pretty cool.”

Graham said it feels surreal to be a role model for the younger generation of women’s hockey.

“I remember when I was younger, just looking at the girls was my favourite part of being in the hockey community,” Graham said. “So, just having the opportunity to be the girl that they look up to, it’s just a really amazing opportunity.”

Graham’s gesture of returning to her roots serves as a touching reminder of the influence athletes can have beyond the realm of competition. By sharing her story with the younger generation, she helps to keep empowering young girls to pursue their dreams in the sport.

“I know that the female hockey is really starting to grow right now, so just being able to have that small part in helping female players to see that anything is possible and I think it’s just really fun to do.”

Graham has won a gold medal at the U18 Women’s World Championship during the 2022-23 season and another gold medal with Hockey Canada at the U18 World Hockey Championships in January, 2023.  She is committed to play NCAA Division 1 hockey for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers starting next fall.