Every year, the LFA Alumnae Association inducts some of our community's most inspiring members to the Distinguished Alumnae program. This year, we are incredibly proud to welcome Samantha Wong '96, who will be inducted as our Distinguished Alumna for 2019. We celebrate her pioneering efforts in women's ice hockey, which were highlighted by her dedication to the sport and included extraordinary volunteerism to growing the sport locally and abroad as well as her own success on the ice.
Samantha started playing ice hockey at a time when women were not readily welcomed into the sport. She played boys minor hockey before leagues for girls or women existed. Because of her love of ice hockey, she powered through adversity and emerged as a pioneer for growing the women’s game—as a player, as a coach and as an administrator.
Sammi played in the inaugural season for one of Vancouver's professional women's ice hockey teams, the Vancouver Griffins, which was Western Canada's first National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) team. She also played for many other women's and men’s hockey teams, including lacing up for Team BC at the 1995 Canada Winter Games.
In 2002, Sammi moved to Hong Kong and shared her passion with a country where ice hockey was relatively unknown, especially for women. She became deeply involved in the Women's International Hockey Organization (WIHO) and helped develop the sport to the point that Hong Kong began competing in international hockey. She played internationally, and was invited to play for China in 2003—an honour she eventually declined.
Samantha was diagnosed with lupus in 2006, which prompted her return to Canada. She continued to play hockey recreationally but stepped up her coaching commitments as sharing her passion for the game was clearly part of her DNA. In the fall of 2010, Samantha was admitted to Vancouver General Hospital with health complications relating to her lupus condition. Three months later, her valiant fight with the disease ended on February 6, 2011. She passed away peacefully with her loved ones by her side.
Even in her passing, her vivacious personality and compelling story resonated in the both the hockey and wider community. Friends and family have continued to gather for events in her name, raising tens of thousands of dollars for BC Lupus Society.
The LFA community is proud to celebrate her as a pioneer in women's hockey in Vancouver and Asia and as a wonderful reflection of the values of community support, perseverance and resilience that we admire in our community.