Two Terrace ringette players will be taking on Canada’s best this week as they head to the 2012 Canadian Ringette Championships in Burnaby, April 8 – 14.
Rylee English, 17, and Aimee Qualizza, 15, will be playing with the Northern Lights AA U19 ringette team, a regional team made up of players from Houston, Terrace, Prince George and Quesnel.
“I am excited,” said English, who has never been to Canadian nationals before. “I think we have a good chance to do well if everyone brings their A game.”
She said the team is physically fit and ready to go, and any skills lacking at this point can be made up by a solid effort.
“The team is really good,” English said.
Qualizza said members of the team are meeting
with a trainer and spending lots of time on the ice.
“We are working on conditioning and working out a lot,” she said. “I’m hoping that our team will do good, and everyone will perform.”
Qualizza has been to nationals before, as the Northern Lights travelled to Cambridge, Ontario last year, placing seventh out of nine teams at the tournament.
Last year was a benchmark year for ringette in the northern B.C. as it was the first time the province was represented nationally in ringette by a northern team.
Coach of the Northern Lights Don McMartin has been with the team for four years and says that in the last 25 years there has never been a AA ringette team in the north that has been able to compete, let alone win, like this one.
The team must overcome difficulties such as hosting players that live up to 700 kilometres apart.
“We have a challenge that everyone else doesn’t have,” McMartin explained.
The Northern Lights is also a young team, as half the players are in the U16 category, something that will be an additional challenge at nationals, as the team competes at the U19 category.
“Because we didn’t have enough kids to play, we brought up a lot of kids as young as 14,” said McMartin, who said he hopes to keep these players together over the next few years.
He says the plan for nationals for the team is to simply try its hardest.
“The reason these kids work so well together is because they just never quit, their heart is unbelievable.”
Ringette nationals have changed this year as not one, but two teams are allowed to enter from each province and territory.
The Northern Lights will be joined by on 18 other U19 ringette teams at nationals.