It was just another Tuesday at Schaller school on Pilot Butte campus until RBC Olympian Halli Krzyzaniak showed up to deliver an inspiring message to Ranch Ehrlo students.
Halli, 23, has an impressive list of accomplishments. Hailing from small-town Neepawa, Manitoba, she began skating at the age of four. It didn’t take her long to realize she wanted to play hockey, but there was no girls’ team. This was Halli’s first challenge – to play, she’d have to join the boys’ team, and it wasn’t easy being accepted.
“I wanted to be a hockey player so badly that I did whatever it would take,” she said. “I didn’t see any reason why I shouldn’t be on that team, so I knew I had to show them that they were wrong – that girls can play with the boys.”
At 13, Halli made the decision to leave Neepawa to pursue her hockey career outside of what the small town could offer – and it paid off in spades. She was offered a spot on the Canadian U18 Women’s National Team. In 2012 and 2013, she and her team brought home gold at the IIHF U18 World Championships. In 2013, she was awarded top defenseman and served as an alternate captain on the team.
Despite this success, Halli’s main goal was to play on Team Canada at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
All seemed to be going well – the top 28 players from the team were chosen to move to Calgary to train for the Winter Olympics.
“I’d been playing really well and I felt confident they were going to tell me I would be going to South Korea to play at the Winter Games,” Halli recalled. “Except – they didn’t.”
Instead of being invited to attend the Games, Halli was released from the roster.
“Through that devastation, I found out how strong I truly am, and I found out what made me, me,” she said.
She made the decision to move to Minot to pursue a career in medicine. Halli continues to play hockey, and again had the opportunity to play for Canada, this time at the IIHF World Championships, where her team received silver in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
Halli’s message to the youth was simple, but powerful.
“Throughout my career, I learned that anything is really possible – all it takes is visualizing your possibilities, leaning on your teammates, friends, and family, and having the courage to carve out your own ice.”
“My advice? Strap on your skates and head in the direction that you want to go.”
The RBC Olympian program is an initiative that offers top athletes the opportunity to focus on training while receiving financial support. The athletes serve as community ambassadors, attending hundreds of community and charitable appearances.