Team NWT packed their bags and took off for Prince George, BC, taking with them seven youth from Hay River to compete against the best in Canada.
“Coming from the territories, this is such a great opportunity,” said Cassidy Ring. “Just being here is such a great learning experience and hopefully we’ll be able to take what we’ve learned to help us in the future.”
The girls hockey team were the first to step onto the stage on Saturday afternoon and while they lost 14-0 to New Brunswick, Ring said the team was still in good spirits.
“I think we’ve managed to keep a positive attitude,” she said. “I’m most looking forward to bonding with my team and building friendships that will last a lifetime.”
Teammate Bryn Hill agreed that the experience itself was valuable, despite the results posted on a scoreboard.
“It’s been really fun,” she said. “It’s better to play against people who are better and stronger than you. It makes you a better player even if you don’t win.”
Win or lose, Hay River has a lot invested in the athletes representing the community at the national games in the next week and a half. Each athlete needed to raise $3,000 to make the games and many Hay River businesses and groups stepped up to help.
Super A’s John Hill and Tracy Hill — also Bryn’s parents — were no exception. The store ran its third round-up program last month to help fund hockey players raising a total of $8,000. For the course of the initiative, customers were asked if they wanted to round up their totals at the till with the extra going to support causes like the Soup Kitchen and others.
“We’ve found it’s a great way to raise money for whatever group is participating,” said John. “It’s often nickels and dimes but some people are more generous and it adds up.”
John said he sees helping athletes travel to games like these as an investment in the future.
“If you look at the Canada Winter Games, there are athletes there who are going to be Olympians,” he told The Hub. “With any luck, some of them will be from Hay River and the NWT.”
John and Tracy made the trek to Prince George to support their daughter but also said they were there to cheer on all the athletes.
“You’re so used to getting in the truck and driving for miles and miles,” said Tracy. “It doesn’t really matter how you get there as long as you’re there supporting the athletes.”