It takes a special love for the game to keep playing after the team is gone.
Four U19 ringette players have been forging on after losing first the local team, then their adoptive Prince George team by travelling down to the Okanagan to continue playing.
Ricki Burt, Colleen Moorhouse, Jessica MacDonald and Hannah Young kept playing when everyone else on the team of their youth found something more important to them.
“I love the sport,” MacDonald said, echoing the rest of the girls on the team.
“And to play with the girls I’ve played with since I’ve started, that’s just lucky.”
Judy Young has been with the girls since they were young, coaching the team while it was still a team. Now, she coaches the four girls while they’re at home, away from their Okanagan team.
Playing for the southern team is not the end game though; it’s just to help the girls stay sharp. The real purpose for the travel and the training won’t come until next year.
“We have Canada winter games 2015 in P.G. so these girls really want to do that. And in order to do that they really should be playing at a AA level,” Judy Young said.
“So the only way they could get the exposure, training and game play was to go down to the Okanagan.”
For now though, the girls have their eyes on Nationals, April 7-1 in Regina and their bodies in the gym.
“We’ve been training really hard, practicing as much as we can, and going to the gym to work out,” Young said.
While they’ve put in the hours getting themselves ready, they have much fewer hours to mesh with their team.
The Quesnel girls have already played some tournaments with their southern teammates, but coming together with girls you see, at most, two weekends a month is difficult. And that’s just the friendship aspect. Getting to know the team’s game, from the coach’s plays to the style of each individual player’s game is another layer in the cake.
“It’s really different because we’ve been with the same group for so long and now we have to start from scratch pretty much, but it’s been good,” Hannah Young said.
“It’s really nice to make new friends from new places.”
As with most things, the difficulties have two sides, the hard part and the strength that comes with overcoming.
“You get to pick up new tips from them. It’s a little more difficult because you don’t know how they play at the start, but once you get past that it’s really good,” Young said.
And with those new tips and new coaching strategies come new friends to enjoy the game with, once everyone gets past the shy, awkward stage.
The relationships, though, have a countdown, because it’s hard to play a game and communicate on the ice if team mates are awkward around each other.
“We’re learning – we’re just about there. Hopefully we get it before nationals,” MacDonald said.
That relationship would be a lot easier to foster if the girls weren’t hours away from the rest of the team.
The sheer distance, and the time it takes to cover it, makes an already difficult proposition even harder.
A practice is no longer a couple hours on the ice, but a weekend when travel time is included. But it’s a price they’re willing to pay.
“We want to play so we gotta go,” MacDonald said.
And after the year of travel and learning, the next step, the girls hope, will open up.
The B.C. team, which the girls have passed through multiple try-outs for, will be at the Nationals, watching closely as a few more cuts need to be made for the team before it is ready for the winter games.
With the scouts watching, the girls will be striving to be ‘on’ for the duration of the tournament and cement their spot in Team B.C. for the Winter Games in front of an (almost) home town crowd.
But for now, you can follow them as BC2-TORL on the CRC website www.crc2014.ca/, which has live streams of the games and live scoring updates. The team’s first game is Apr. 7 at 9 a.m – BC2-TORL vs. QC1 – Team Quebec.