Local Sports Star Turns Entrepreneur
Cornwall Ontario - Dominque Laroche is one of the people you want on your team. It doesn’t really matter what the sport is – give her a ball or a puck and she knows what to do with it. It is not surprising then that one of Cornwall’s best female athletes has a day job helping local athletes – young and old alike.
Dominque is the store manager of Play it Again Sports, where she has worked with her dad Claude since he opened the store in 1997. In January, she becomes the store owner, ensuring a continuance of the same service that her customers have come to expect.
Born and raised in Cornwall, Dominique began turning heads with her hockey skills at a young age. She learned to skate on a “gorgeous” back yard rink that her dad had set up, and she spent many winter days and nights playing shinny with her older brother.
As she got older, hockey moved indoors into rinks and Dominque was quickly recruited into competitive hockey with the Cornwall Girls Hockey.
“As a young teen, the National Women's hockey program was just getting underway, and it gave me so much inspiration to know that there was a future place for me in women's hockey,” Dominique recalls.
Dominique would go on to play 5 years in the National Women's Hockey League playing against Team Canada players on a regular basis, like fellow hometown star Lori Dupuis.
“It was great time for Canadian hockey and it was very satisfying to know that I could compete on the same level as the best hockey players in the world.”
Hockey is only one sport that Dominique excels at. She is also a formidable softball player, and captain of the Cornwall Fastbreakers Women's Senior A team. Her team won the Slo-Pitch Women's Provincial Championships in 2012, prompting Mayor Bob Kilger to invite the team to sign the Golden Book at Cornwall City Hall.
So far, Dominique has been able to balance her sporting activities with the responsibilities that every entrepreneur faces.
Over the years she has helped her father ensure that the store changes with the times and continues to meet the needs of Cornwall residents and visitors.
“We are keeping our focus on what makes us stand out over the rest, and that’s excellent customer service and giving our customers the best possible value for their dollar,” says Dominique. “Our customers essentially create their own discounts by trading in and trading up. We’ve helped a lot of Cornwall families suit up their kids for hockey, softball, soccer, skiing and other sports!”
Dominque has helped the store build upon its solid hockey business by bringing in Under Armour apparel, which has been a big hit. They also have a solid selection of fitness gear and a ski/snowboard section. Fast selling items this Christmas include the Reebok Mini Goalie Net and Stick Set for the kids, new snowshoes ($69.99), and “anything and everything from Under Armour”.
With her expanded new role in the New Year, Dominique doesn’t plan to change her involvement in the local sports community. She has been a leader in the Cornwall Women's Ball Hockey league and the Cornwall Girls Hockey Association. Play it Again supports several local sports teams, ranging from minor hockey, women's hockey, Ball Hockey, Softball, soccer and men's flag football and the bulletin board at the store is full of articles about local athletes. Dominique plans on joining Team Cornwall and helping to promote the City, but for now, growing the business is her main focus.
“I have the coolest job in town! Who doesn't want to work in a sports store?” says Dominique. “Customers become friends! There's not a day that goes by where I don't see a familiar face in the community, and it's all from having a small business in Cornwall!”
Play it Again Sports is located at 37 Ninth Street East in Cornwall. The store is open 7 days a week. You can reach the store at (613) 936-2020.
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