OTTAWA – When Kathrin Lehmann announced her retirement immediately after the final game of the 2012 Women’s Worlds in Burlington, Vermont, she created a significant hole in the Switzerland roster.
While her timing couldn’t have been better—the team had just skated off the ice with bronze medals—the 32-year-old had been a part of the team for so long that it was difficult to imagine it without her in the lineup.
Flash forward a year. For the 2013 Women’s Worlds in Ottawa, 24-year-old defenceman Julia Marty is wearing the “C” in Lehmann’s place. “She texted me and wished me good luck, which was all we needed, really,” Marty said after her first game with the “C”, yesterday’s narrow 2-1 loss to Finland.
Marty assisted on the lone Swiss goal. She is playing her seventh Women’s Worlds and has also been to the 2006 and 2010 Olympics.
“It’s a great honour,” she said of her new position on the team. “It’s not such a big difference, though, because I have been an assistant and I have been on the team for so many years now. I feel like I’ve grown into the position. So for me, even if I didn’t have a letter on my sweater, I’d still speak up if I felt it was important to.”
It was only a few days ago that she was named captain, a decision that came after a process, and one made with plenty of consultation.
“Actually, I found out not that long ago,” Marty explained, “but I could sort of see it coming because I was an assistant captain. We’ve been trying out different lineups with captains and assistants. I guess they felt this worked. The coach made me captain, but the players had a lot of input in his decision as well, so it was really a combination of the two things.”
One thing is for sure. Just as Marty wears number 6 and Lehmann wore number 20, the two have different personalities and see their role in a different way.
“I feel like as captain I’m not as tough with the players as Kathrin was,” Marty suggests. “But that’s also my weakness. I can’t say no. Kathrin was more authoritative. I try to be tough when it’s important, but I also try to friendly as much as possible as well.”
What Marty makes clear, though, is leadership is not just about the letter; it’s about chemistry and teamwork and camaraderie. “We maybe feel like we have more pressure on ourselves, that we need to be even more of a team,” she continues, “but we’re a really strong group, which makes life easier. I speak sometimes in the dressing room, but all the players do. We share that responsibility.”
That communal sense of leadership is going to be a necessary component if the team is to overcome its opening-night loss and advance to a medal game, as it did last year.
“We have to take fewer penalties and play strong for three periods,” Marty adds in a tone that suggests she’ll be repeating this mantra to her teammates sooner rather than later. That is, after all, what captains do.