Thirty girls from across northern British Columbia made their way to Mackenzie with hockey dreams tucked neatly into their gear bags and at the end of the U16 BC North zone tryout camp, Ava Keis and Cheyann Newman of Quesnel both got the tap on the shoulder.
Selection to the team is quite an accomplishment given the skill level is improving from year to year, coach with the BC North U16 team Hazel Massier said.
“The skill level and fitness level of the players taking part in the BC Hockey Female High Performance Program keeps improving,” Massier said.
“Competition for the final team selection is always tough and this year was the toughest I’ve been involved with.”
Both Keis, a forward and Newman, a defenceman, are first year players in the program, making their selection all the more remarkable.
“I’m really excited,” Keis said.
“I’m looking forward to participating in the BC Cup.”
The selection camp, held from Jan. 2 – 3, involved not only on-ice practices and two games, but also included fitness tests and an evaluation of attitude, grit and determination on and off the ice.
Obviously Keis and Newman impressed the coaches in all areas.
“They [coaches] thought I was a very strong second year player,” Newman said.
“I had to tell them I was only a first year player.
“They both started laughing and said, ‘Wow we’re impressed.’”
Massier described both girls as strong and dedicated athletes with a passion for the game of hockey and a sincere motivation to be the best they can be.
“Their desire and determination to make the U16 north zone team showed on and off the ice at the camp,” Massier said.
“Each pushed themselves more as the weekend progressed, proving they deserved a spot on the team.”
Now that the North zone team has been selected, the difficult task for the coaches will be to keep the players motivated as the team will not have the opportunity to practice except just prior to the BC Cup.
This, Newman said, will be one of the team’s biggest challenges.
“They [Lower Mainland teams] play with each other year-round, our North team doesn’t,” she said.
“Hopefully we can work together as a team and put some pucks in the back of their net.”
To that end, the coaches, Massier and Brian Shawara, will be in frequent contact with the players and will assign homework to the players in preparation for the U16 BC Cup scheduled for March 31 to April 3 in 100 Mile House.
Once the girls arrive in 100 Mile House, the team will have one 45 minute practice session, enough time to learn rudimentary team systems, but not enough time to develop team spirit.
To facilitate the development of team spirit, the coaches have prepared several team building activities, an important off ice component that improves team performance on the ice, Massier explained.
Selection to the BC north zone U16 girls hockey team is the first step on the ladder of dreams for both Keis and Newman.
“This is just the beginning step to when I am old enough for the U18 tryouts,” Newman said.
Keis, in addition to being pleased with her selection to the team, was also mindful of those that helped her achieve this first important step, including coaches Don Knoop, Stew Malgunas, Judy Shawara and teammates with the Prince George Female Bantam Cougars Rep Team and local coach Hazel Massier.
Make U16 BC North roster