Their joy is unmistakable. Infectious really.
As a married couple and as parents.
Two of the greatest female hockey players to ever to suit up for their respective countries — Canada and the United States — together own eight Olympic medals, and more than two dozen pieces of World Hockey Championship hardware between them.
Their extensive resumes as elite level athletes who climbed to the summit of their sport over decades — seems to pale in comparison when compared to their current journey — parenthood.
“I’ve always loved children, ” says Julie Chu, the first Asian-American to ever play for the U.S. Olympic women’s team. “My mom babysat for kids growing up. We were surrounded by a lot of kids in our neighbourhood, and within our families. So, from a young age I was connected with young, little kids and loved them,” she says.
Chu’s spouse Caroline Ouellette, had a vastly different introduction to children.
“I didn’t have many young cousins and I didn’t babysit, says Ouellette, a Montreal native. “So, it was very, very all new to me.”
The couple shared their thoughts on parenting and more, during a wide-ranging interview with Lianne Castelino of Where Parents Talk.
They grew up in different countries, cultures and backgrounds. Chu was raised in Connecticut, in a mixed background (Chinese and Puerto Rican), with two siblings.
Soccer and figure skating were among the early sports that Chu participated in.
A French-Canadian, Ouellette grew up in Montreal with her parents and sister. Athletically-gifted from a young age, baseball was the first sport was exposed to — rising all the way up to play for Team Quebec.
It is the common ground both ladies share and stand on, that is foundational to their becoming parents.
“I really believe that the environment we grow up in really influences us in a lot of ways,” reflects Chu. “And maybe that’s because I felt very fortunate and supported and loved and the different things I wanted to pursue from being supported on the academic side and school doing well, and bringing home like probably the ugliest painting possible. And my parents thinking it was incredible!”
For Ouellette, a similar experience, in a different world. “My upbringing was so positive,” she says. “And my parents were so wonderful to me, to my sister that it’s something that I also wanted to experience.”
Knowing that someday they wanted to be parents, was another aspect of their shared goals. Achieving it, as a gay couple, involved many specific steps.
“What are the different possibilities between sperm donors to IVF (in-vitro-fertilization), regular insemination, whatever it might be,” says Chu, who delivered the couple’s second child, Tessa, in May 2020.
“We had been together for over 10 years when we started looking into becoming parents,” says Ouellette. “We had experienced a lot of different things throughout our journey. I think it made our couple more solid and ready to face this exciting adventure,” she says.
The couple became parents in 2017 with Ouellette, aged 37 at the time, delivering baby Liv.
“I really do feel like it’s the most incredible achievement that you can have in your life, Ouellette beams. “If you want children, of course, it is absolutely a gift.”
These days, Ouellette and Chu are part of the coaching staff of the Concordia Stingers Women’s Hockey team, balancing their young family, work, and many other commitments as ambassadors for the sport — on both sides of the Canada-US border.
During their interview with Where Parents Talk, Caroline Ouellette and Julie Chu also discuss:
• Pandemic parenting a toddler and a baby
• The impact of their childhoods on how they parent
• How sport influences their parenting styles
• Their strategies for balancing family and career
• Overcoming adversity
• The steps they are taking to avoid become the stereotypical ‘hockey parent’
• Their parenting mentors