Palmerston’s Leah Herrfort part of gold medal winning squad

University of Waterloo Warriors star Leah Herrfort, who helped Team Canada win gold in hockey at the 2023 University Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York (Courtesy of the Instigating with Clarkey and Drury show)

A local athlete has returned to Canada with a gold medal.

Palmerston’s Leah Herrfort played for Team Canada’s women’s hockey team at the 2023 University Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York, as Canada beat Japan 5-0 in the final. Herrfort, who plays for the University of Waterloo Warriors, says she’s still processing the huge accomplishment.

“I don’t know, it’s surreal, like I’ve never won a gold medal that was a legit, world-stage gold medal. We’ve won tournaments here and there, but it’s a feeling like I’ve never had before,” Herrfort said.

Winning with this team, made up of so many talented players, many of whom were fierce opponents weeks ago in CIS competition, was very special for Herrfort. She says it was an interesting thing, but not a challenge, to come together with so many players on teams she has played against, including her roommate Hannah Tait, who captains the rival Guelph Gryphons. But at the end of the day, Herrfort says everyone knew what the goal was.

“Everyone in that room was a really good hockey player. At first I was a little nervous, because you’re playing with new people, so I was a little nervous going into a room of people I don’t know and people I’ve never played with. But I think I had to just remind myself that these people are here for a reason, they’re great hockey players,” Herrfort explained.

Herrfort says she models her game after Canadian superstar Marie Philip Poulin, who always comes up clutch for Team Canada. She added that playing in historic Lake Placid, the site of the famous Miracle on Ice in 1980, was an unforgettable experience.

“The people there, too, were just so excited, and if they saw you wearing a Canada sweater or a jacket, they came and were like ‘Oh my god, you’re Team Canada, can I get a picture with you?’ I’ve never felt cooler in my life, honestly,” chuckled Herrfort.

Herrfort should probably get used to that feeling now as a gold medal winner forever. She’s studying economics at the University of Waterloo where she stars for the Warriors hockey team, and says she wants to remain in the game no matter what, whether that’s trying to go pro or getting involved in coaching or scouting.

For the full interview with gold medallist Leah Herrfort, check out the full clip here, courtesy of the Instigating with Clarkey and Drury show: