You are visiting family on a quiet Thursday night when you receive a call telling you that you are invited to the White House in three days.
This scenario might be worthy of a movie, but goaltender Jane Gervais experienced it in real life two weeks ago. On June 12, about fifty NCAA champion teams, from all sports, were invited to the American capital. The champions of the major professional leagues are received there every year, and this time, the invitation was also extended to collegiate athletes.
As players in the Wisconsin Badgers hockey program, Gervais and fellow Quebecer Marianne Picard were able to venture beyond the gates around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
Gervais was with her grandparents, in Quebec, when she received the call. “The invitation didn’t go the first time, so we found out at the last minute,” she told La Presse.
From then on began a commotion. Three days after the call, she jumped on a plane in Quebec, bound for Washington. Arrived on Sunday evening, she left on Tuesday morning, not without having walked the lawn of the White House and visited the Capitol.
“We arrive, there is security everywhere, guards with big guns, confirms Gervais. We couldn’t get into the House, but up close, it’s so impressive! At some point, it started to rain, and as soon as it started, guards appeared with umbrellas. It was like in a movie, like in The Hunger Games. »
Picard and Gervais are the only two Quebec Badgers. They met at Stanstead College and followed each other to Madison. “It feels good to have someone from Quebec with me, it’s comforting,” says Picard. Sometimes, between periods, if I need to talk and I don’t want the others to understand, I go to see Jane. »
Picard plays on the attack. A victim of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the fall of 2021, she returned to a supporting role this season, “to get back on the pace”. “A year without playing was hard. Next season I should have more ice time. Under these circumstances, she was limited to 7 points (1 goal, 6 assists) in 42 games.
Gervais shared goaltending duties with Cami Cronish at the start of the season, but an injury suffered in November saw him miss two months of action. When she returned to the game, she played sporadically, as her teammate became difficult to dislodge, with 8 shutouts in 32 games. Cronish’s college career is over, however, and Gervais hopes to establish himself as the starting goaltender next year.
The two Quebecers have the chance to play in one of the most renowned hockey programs in the NCAA. The Badgers have indeed won three of the last four domestic titles and play in enviable facilities. Their home, the LaBahn Arena, opened in 2012.
Picard hopes that his years in the lands of Cole Caufield will open the doors to Team Canada and professional hockey. Among the options she would like to have: play for the Montreal Force and study at McGill. Because in two years, she wants to try her luck in medical school to become a pediatrician.
“Through working in hockey schools, I realized that I love kids. So I can apply that to medicine. And I have a lot of energy! “, she says.
Gervais has just completed her bachelor’s degree in technology management and will begin her master’s in the fall, training that could, for example, allow her to manage sports departments in schools. But she finds the option of a professional career “coming up really interesting.”
“Before, options were not viable in the long term. But now, with the PHF, that changes. A friend of mine, Maude Poulin-Labelle, just signed a $69,000 contract. I have two or three years left in school and then I will see. »
In the meantime, the college route gave them the experience of a lifetime, even though circumstances meant that President Biden did not attend the event. He was having a root canal, lucky guy.
A week later, her teammate Marianne Picard had still not come down from her cloud either.
“That’s when I realized that this woman is one of the most powerful people in the world. She, the Vice President of the United States. And me, the little girl from Quebec! Seeing her in person was unreal! »
Marianne Picard and Jane Gervais weren’t the only Quebec representatives to set foot on White House grounds on June 12. The champion team of the men’s hockey tournament, the Quinnipiac University Bobcats, had four players from here. Goalkeeper Yaniv Perets, defender Charles-Alexis Legault and forward Cristophe Tellier were therefore entitled to the visit, while the club’s fourth Quebecer, Christophe Fillion, was unable to attend. In water polo, Quebecer Floranne Carroll also made the trip, as a member of the Stanford University team.