A lot of work, planning and coordination go into an event like the 2013 National Women’s Under-18 Championship, which took place Nov. 6 through 10 at the Markin MacPhail Centre in Calgary, Alta.
Participating teams practise for months in preparation of the event, host committee members plan, organize and execute the event on time and within budget. And many volunteers give much of their time to help all participating players enjoy the experience of a lifetime, while also making memories to last a lifetime themselves.
For younger volunteers, events such as the National Women’s Under-18 Championship can serve as valuable learning experience, as they gain practical skills and work experience, while also being surrounded by elite athletes who have the ability to motivate and inspire them to aim high and dream big.
Take the young female players from the Calgary area who took time away from their busy schedules to volunteer for the five-day tournament as junior hosts, for instance.
Brooke Dennett and Autumn Kehler were junior hosts for Ontario Red, while Jaime Dube and Jenna Patrician were junior hosts for Ontario Blue. Their jobs involved spending long hours at the rink, shadowing their senior team hosts, while doing big and small tasks to help their players perform at their best when it came time to skate onto the ice.
In order to get their jobs as junior hosts, each girl had to fill out an application, including essays that seemed to share a common theme – all of them wanted the chance to learn from the players what it takes to compete at such a high level, and even have the chance to win a national championship.
The four young female players, who aspire one day to represent their provinces at a national championship, said not only did they have fun, but they really did get some great advice from the players on Ontario Blue, which claimed the silver medal, and Ontario Red, which won the gold medal at the 2013 National Women’s Under-18 Championship.
“Hearing their background stories (and) how they got here, it’s like a step on the way to being where you want to be when you grow up,” Brooke said shortly after her team, Ontario Red, beat Ontario Blue 8-1 in the final game Sunday, Nov. 10. “It was awesome.”
“My team is a family; they lean on each other when they need to,” Jenna said of what it was like to be a part of Ontario Blue, which came into this year’s tournament as defending national champion. “They just work so hard together and they feed off of each other’s energy.”
The girls said they also learned a lot about the importance of camaraderie, on and off the ice, as well as how characteristics such as dedication, determination and drive will help you reach all sorts of goals.
And they agreed that one of the most important lessons learned during their week working for Ontario Blue and Ontario Red is to never, ever give up on their dreams.
“I need to never give up and stay strong,” Autumn said of what she’ll take away and apply to her own life, whether it’s while playing a sport, studying for school or when she enters the working world.
While the 2013 National Women’s Under-18 Championship is over now, these young female walk - or perhaps skate away - with a better idea of what it takes to be at the top of their game, whether it’s on or off the ice, and the ability to take what they’ve learned from their player mentors, and likely become mentors to other young players themselves.