There was a lot of excitement in the air as members of the Zone 8 under-15 ringette team received their new blue B.C. Winter Games jerseys on Sunday (Feb. 18), right before their fifth on-ice practice.
The team, which is made up of 17 13- and 14-year-old players from Quesnel and Prince George, will begin B.C. Winter Games round-robin play Friday, Feb. 23 in Kamloops. Eight teams are competing in the B.C. Winter Games, in two pools of four, and the northern B.C. team is in Pool B with Fraser Valley, Fraser River and Vancouver Island. The top two teams in each pool will advance to the medal round.
Head coach Scott Fairless of Quesnel, who regularly coaches the Quesnel under-16 A team, feels good about his team’s chances and is hoping to medal.
“We’ve been working hard toward it,” he says.
“We have all the capabilities – it’s just execution now.”
Fairless says the core group played under-14 AA together last year. They finished third in the province and competed at the Western Canadians in Winnipeg.
“I think we’re really strong,” he says.
“The core has played together for a while now, so we’re expecting really good things, and it’s a wonderful group of girls. We’re excited to get going.”
The team is made up of Quesnel players Tori Anderson, Lauren Pastachak, Mary-Jo Anderson, Shay Hollowell, Megan Strand, Amelia Musselman and goalies Hannah Gourlay and Caitlyn Dubuc-Fraser, as well as Prince George players Taryn Atkinson, Paige Shaw, Avary Lea, Emily Nimmo, Emma Watson, Meghan Watson, Lilowynn Thompson and Madelyn Todd. The team is coached by Fairless and assistant coaches Jan Musselman and Dawn Fraser.
Fourteen-year-old Atkinson of Prince George, who has been playing ringette since she was six, went to the B.C. Winter Games two years ago and is hoping to finish first with this team.
“The best we can do is all we can ask for; [we need to] just play our hardest, but that gold medal will be on our minds for sure,” she says.
Fifteen-year-old Anderson of Quesnel, who has been playing since she was seven, says she is excited about seeing the other teams and playing against other people. She says she was “really happy” when she learned she had made the team after tryouts finished in October.
“It’s a great team, and everyone just loves to have fun,” she adds.
Atkinson and Anderson both feel the Lower Mainland and Okanagan teams will be tough competition, but they are confident about their chances.
“A lot of [the teams] are really difficult and a lot of Lower Mainland and Okanagan teams are really good, but if we play our hardest, we can definitely pull out all the wins,” says Atkinson.
“We’re very determined, and we never give up,” adds Anderson.
This is the fourth in the Observer’s series of profiles of Quesnel athletes who have qualified for B.C. Winter Games. See page A11, past editions and online for more. Quesnel athletes are attending for archery, alpine skiing, gymnastics, ringette and Special Olympics basketball.